BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2018
Our lives are set in motion before we realize we have choices. In adulthood, we must confront errant programming and create something better.
We over simplify with judgment. We seek the easy way out, ignoring the complexities. Behaviors, emotions and thoughts are not singular but a construction of millions of inconceivable proceeding events—both occurring within our mind and the surrounding environments. The behavior, emotion or thought continues through a chain reaction to influence events both small and large. We condemn or admire each hurtful and charitable action, and this is our prerogative. We have a right to moral standards of behavior; but hatred of the actors of bad behavior must be tempered with understanding that we are only judging the final act in a long succession of causes.
In my current position, I review thousands of histories; often examining police contacts spanning over forty years or more. I have noticed a common pattern that has significantly softened my biases. The pattern looks like this: Several reports listing the subject as a victim of child abuse or neglect; followed by several reports of petty crimes and truancy (during teen age years); a spattering of drug charges and Driving under the Influence (DUI) arrests, and then Domestic Violence (victim or suspect) in adulthood. A chain of unhealthy and unscrupulous action, beginning with childhood victimization.
The reported crimes are only a small sampling of damaging events. There are no laws against emotional starvation. But emotionally ignored children grow into adult with notable emotional processing deficits in their lives. Their actions and reactions are influenced by what they know and don’t know.
Examining an event conveniently isolated from complex proceeding causes constrains judgments to the limited known information, creating damning biases. We may curse the final event without knowing anything if substance about the perpetrator. Inappropriate actions that hurt others shouldn’t be unequivocally excused of consequence. Life would be chaotic. Consequences are the primary schoolmasters bestowing wisdom. An abused partner shouldn’t allow abuse to continue, excusing the abuser because of a disjointed childhood. Those hurt should act to create safety, escaping further violence, no matter what the actor’s history. The dastardly actions, although influenced by a host of causes, are not excusable. But as a society and as compassionate people, we must look to the complexity of causes if we desire to create change. We must transcend the simple good and bad judgments if we want to be progressive, moving beyond faulty blame, examining more fundamental influencing factors. The invisible events the created the harmful trajectories.
"The hurt should take action to create safety and escape further violence, no matter what the actor’s history. The dastardly actions, although influenced by a host of causes, are not excusable."
We can’t afford to wait for larger social movements to make these necessary changes. We need to be involved. We must be informed and active. We must be the difference. Flourishing Life is more than personal success, personal peace, and personal growth. Flourishing life is a worldwide project, putting our communities, our nations, and the world on a positive trajectory of betterment.