Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wake-Up America---Rules Rule!

Wake-up America—Rules Rule!

Whether you are a Christian, a member of some other God-Fearing (where did the fear go) belief system, an agnostic or an atheist, rules are rules. In the world, when you break its’ rules for survival, you will suffer the consequences.

And it matters not, whether you see the world as a happy confluence of improbable events, or as the act of a Supreme Being. If you jump off the Empire State building, without a parachute, you will go splat.

You may rage at the rules of the universe, or you may pray to God on your way down, but you will go splat.

What happens to you after you go splat is a debatable issue, and I will not debate it here. You may believe what you will on the matter of an after-life with no argument from me.

Whether a confluence of improbable events or an act of God, you and I are here together and so are around 308 million of our fellow Americans. The rules upon which this great Nation was created were thought by our founding father to be God’ rules. You may view them as “rules of nature”, if you so choose.

Being a little ol’ fashioned, I prefer the former assumption to the later.

Anyway, make your own choice. Because with respect to what governs the quality of our collective behavior, good or bad, the rules and consequences that we apply to ourselves through our elected local, state, and federal governments will determine our success or failure in the world. These rules and consequences that we apply to ourselves will have a very large impact upon the future viability of our culture.

To live well requires that you learn God’s (or Nature”s) physical rules and the rules of human behavior. The physical sciences and the behavioral sciences have discovered much that we need to know. Now, what we must do is live by those rules and also help others learn to live by them.

I cannot discuss all of the rules in this short posting, but the following few Principles of behavior are a good start.

The Law of Effect: Consequences control behavior. Reward bad behavior and it will increase in frequency. Reward good behavior and it will increase in frequency. Punish good or bad behavior (or withhold rewards from them) and these behaviors will decrease in frequency.

The Law of Contiguity: Those stimuli that are paired or associated together tend to occur together more often in the future. In other words the infidelity, sex, drugs, violence, irreverence, disrespect and violence shown in our entertainment media will occur in certain situations or contexts and all of this will be associated with and the feelings we have when watching them (happy, excited or titillated). What is called Propaganda affects the ways humans think, feel, and behave in the same ways. Also, through repeated presentations and the behavioral principle Habituation, we naturally adapt to or ”get used to” that which formerly offended, upset or disturbed us.

Through rules and Principles of Social Learning a great deal more of what we see and experience affects our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In short we tend to remember and imitate the behavioral patterns of those with power, those with fame, and those who we find attractive. They become our models and we are inclined to imitate their actions. Contrary to modern thought,” the whole” of the behavior patterns of our media-popularized celebrities (entertainment, sports, political) do matter. We are inclined to imitate much more of what they do than their ability to sing or dance, make a basket, make a touchdown, swing a golf club, or look good and talk persuasively. On this issue, you can fill-in your own celebrity names and think about their effects upon the behavior of our youth and impressionable adults. I will say no more on this, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Beyond God’s-Given rules to live by, or Nature’s rules if you prefer, is another matter.
This matter is one of motivation. What will best motivate a great population to follow certain rules that bring increasing patterns of good behavior?

If you think that the best strategy is to simply teach humans that they should be good and treat the earth and other living things with kindness and respect, you had better think some more.

Please take the time to view the following video on the role of faith in America’s past successes.

I want to thank Linda Mawhinney for forwarding this video to me.

Dr. Tom 12/19/09

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