Thursday, December 02, 2010

It's the behavior, NOT the revelation about the behavior

I heard on the news on the way into work today that some folks are claiming that the Wikileaks cable release about the Yemeni President lying to his country about U.S. bombs dropping in Yemen might serve as a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. This immediately reminded me of when I worked with substance-abusing felons...

Part of my job as a counselor was to challenge them about their behavior and to encourage them to be honest about any behavior that violated the rules of the treatment center. This was in keeping with the treatment philosophy of "honesty is integral to recovery from substance abuse." If they admitted to a violation, however, they would receive a consequence. Needless to say, it was indeed challenging to get them to fess up. What was interesting was their main reason for NOT fessing up; it is essentially the same thing that is happening with the above situation.

Their argument was that being honest (i.e., fessing up) would cost them...and indeed in one sense, it would and it did. As such, it was in their best interest to lie. I pointed out that this was in fact incorrect. It was not their HONESTY that resulted in the consequence, it was their BEHAVIOR that resulted in the consequence. In other words, it was not the revelation about the behavior that was consequential, it was the behavior itself.

Put simply, don't do stupid shit and you don't have anything to lie about; you can in fact be honest with people about what you have been doing.

Who knew that people in power could act like felons?

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