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Undoing shoulds:

Assessment or righteousness

Righteousness hamstrings our abilities to make accurate assessments and effective decisions

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Assessment

 

This is the act of making a distinction about what something is or isn’t. If you say, “I can pour this water from this beaker into this glass,” you are pointing out the distinctions of “water,” “beaker,” “glass,” “pouring,” and your ability to use your body to pour water from the beaker into the glass. In making an assessment, you can make the statement like, “If you want x, then doing y will get that for you,” but you are not saying that doing x or y are good things or that you should do x so you can get y (since the words “good” and “should” in this context are fuzzy words and thereby make the seeming assessment ungrounded and therefore judgmental). In making an assessment, you can talk about benefits, costs, possibilities, and risks—for whom and whether short- or long-term or both. These can be grounded.

 

Righteousness (judgmentalness)

 

This is the assertion/belief that something or someone is good, bad, right, wrong, fair, unfair, deserving, not deserving, virtuous, sinful. Although sometimes these words can used to denote benefits, costs, possibilities, and risks, most often they are floating abstractions (abstractions that don’t obviously refer to something concrete and specific)—these are ungrounded values. As such, they are antithetical to making accurate assessments, especially since they are trying to masquerade as such. If you know that something or someone is “good,” you don’t need to explore what costs and risks it may be incurring. If you are sure that something or someone is “bad,” you don’t need to unearth what benefits and possibilities there might be. As such, righteousness is self-inflicted blindness.

Assessment is about facts. Righteousness is the story that we add to the facts, distorting them or even creating their opposites (that is, believing what is false).

 

“The atom bomb was no ‘great decision.’ It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.” -Harry S Truman (33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, 1884-1972)

 

“We shall exterminate the Jews. The Jews will not get away with their responsibility for November 9, 1918; this day will be avenged.” -Adolf Hitler (German politician and Pan-German revolutionary, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, 1889-1945)


Note from historian Dr Joachim Riecker: "Hitler saw the state 'poisoned' from within. Hitler lived in Munich, where Jews played a leading role in the revolution against the monarchy on November 9th, 1918. So suddenly the delusion came to his mind, that the Jews were the reason for the 'inner poisoning' of Germany and that they had stolen the victory from Germany,"

Undoing shoulds:

Assessment or righteousness

Righteousness hamstrings our abilities to make accurate assessments and effective decisions

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Undoing shoulds:

assessment or righteousness

Righteousness hamstrings our abilities to make accurate assessments and effective decisions

Assessment

 

This is the act of making a distinction about what something is or isn’t. If you say, “I can pour this water from this beaker into this glass,” you are pointing out the distinctions of “water,” “beaker,” “glass,” “pouring,” and your ability to use your body or other means to pour water from the beaker into the glass.

 

In making an assessment, you can make the statement like, “If you want x, then doing y will get that for you,” but you are not saying that doing x or y are good things or that you should do x so you can get y (since the words “good” and “should” in this context are fuzzy words and thereby make the seeming assessment ungrounded and therefore judgmental).

 

In making an assessment, you can talk about benefits, costs, possibilities, and risks—for whom and whether short- or long-term or both. These can be grounded. These are amenable to objective understanding and agreement.

 

Righteousness (judgmentalness)

 

This is the assertion/belief that something or someone is good, bad, right, wrong, fair, unfair, deserving, not deserving, virtuous, sinful. Although sometimes these words can used to denote benefits, costs, possibilities, and risks, most often they are floating abstractions (abstractions that don’t obviously refer to something concrete and specific)—these are ungrounded values.

 

As such, they are antithetical to making accurate assessments, especially since they are trying to masquerade as such. If you know that something or someone is “good,” you don’t need to explore what costs and risks it may be incurring. If you are sure that something or someone is “bad,” you don’t need to unearth what benefits and possibilities there might be. As such, righteousness is self-inflicted blindness.

Assessment is about facts. Righteousness is about offense and defense

Righteousness is the story that we add to the facts, distorting them or even creating their opposites (that is, believing what is false). Righteousness shuts down our thinking and curiosity as if we have decided, "The facts are simple: I'm/we're right and you/they're wrong. Thinking and curiosity is stupid and a waste of time."

 

“The atom bomb was no ‘great decision.’ It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.”

—Harry S Truman (33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, 1884-1972)

 

“We shall exterminate the Jews. The Jews will not get away with their responsibility for November 9, 1918; this day will be avenged.”

—Adolf Hitler (German politician and Pan-German revolutionary, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, 1889-1945)


Note from historian Dr Joachim Riecker: "Hitler saw the state 'poisoned' from within. Hitler lived in Munich, where Jews played a leading role in the revolution against the monarchy on November 9th, 1918. So suddenly the delusion came to his mind, that the Jews were the reason for the 'inner poisoning' of Germany and that they had stolen the victory from Germany,"

Bring it home (it's not just people like Hitler)

  • How often do you get defensive with others?

  • How often do you feel a bit of guilt or self-blame?

  • How often do you feel resentment? Have you ever felt betrayed?

  • To what extent to take the side of us against them?

  • How often do you compare yourself negatively to others or another?

  • How often do you feel you're not good enough or smart enough?

  • Do you blame others when they criticize you?

All these behaviors indulge in righteousness, continuing to fuel our own civil war in tandem with our assault on others. Our addiction to righteousness provides us with the powerful short-term benefits of numbing our ability to feel compassion for the "bad guys" (including when we've made part of ourselves the "bad guy") as well helping us to avoid the fear that we think we would feel if we began to discover that what we have been so sure about might not be so.

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