I reflect on the years I’ve accumulated. Of the many vignettes, memories, scenarios, I recall a theme pondered and talked about countless times: men, to do the right thing. Several factors have always traveled along with this issue, through the generations; one of those factors being shorterm gratification compared with longterm gratification; another cause being fatigue (mental and physical); and yet another, problematic rationalization versus clarity of thought connected to good ethics, honorable character. So, the original thought, “Men, To Do The Right Thing”, leads into these factors.
- Shorterm gratification. In the realm of relationships and marriage, shorterm gratification can lead to trust broken, betrayal, lies. Sounds harsh, yes? But, not uncommon. Here is a, possibly, oversimplified picture of what this looks like is. Two individuals are in a relationship; they have a few arguments over a short period of time; one of the individuals chooses to experience being with someone (seemingly) immediately fulfilling, no (visible) complications, (all in secrecy). Eventually, the truth comes out and the unfatihful one has a choice to make.
- Fatigue and clarity of thought. In the context of a relationship, where a man becomes mentally and physically fatigued over a period of time (caused by any number of catalysts), resulting in his diminishing attention to his wife and her needs. His apathy slowly increases in proportion to his diminishing level of attention to his wife. Here is my question: will this man recognize what is happening and make crucial changes to avoid further pain to his marriage? What makes this a difficult situation is the power of negative momentum. My own paraphrased definition of the Law Inertia is this: “An object in motion will continue unless acted upon by an external force.” So, what will be the external force, for this man, to keep him from going downhill, inevitably crashing with great chaos.
- Lastly, I consider rationalization and clarity of thought. By the way, I truly believe that all three of these areas overlap, to differing degrees. Here is where my mind goes, with rationalization. I think about the workplace. A man is intensely pressured by his supervisor to increase his numbers reflecting a higher level of productivity. His coworkers do not seem to be having any difficulty. So, the man in question asks one of his coworkers to help him think through what needs to happen to get his numbers up, where they need to be. The coworker shows him some “shortcuts”, and points out some steps that “the other guys don’t waste their time on. There is some distinction about what is policy and what the rest of the team is doing, he chooses the latter, to get on board with what works, regardless of policy. In this context several factors are at play: rationalization, fatigue, and the shorterm gratification.
When / if a man comes to a fork in the road where he realizes he chose unwisely, either the man fully embraces his mistake, or he glosses over, minimizes, dismisses, rationalizes. The good news is that one can learn from his “bad call”, and then press on, keeping in mind that he does not want to repeat his mistake. The bad news is that one can become, gradually, more submerged in his pattern of bad choices. His conscious becomes a bit more numb, his focus changes towards the shorterm gratification, the rationalization process, moving away from clarity of thought. Some believe that our world is moving faster; not in the sense of physics, but in the way we process information, the higher expectations placed on all of us, and the higher costs for (almost) everything. True, should not go into a rationalization mode, and say there is an excuse for our breakdown in choices. Having said that, I believe the … higher velocity … brings real challenges to howe live, and what we do. I have known too many men over the years who have lost their marriages and/or their careers because of bad choices. This week, I found myself thinking about the pain these men and their wives have gone through, in these situations. My heart, truly goes out for them. It is a wake-up call for, to do my best to make wise choices.