By definition, my wife and I are dictators.
Together we hold complete autocratic control of our household and its citizens. We rule in an absolute and often oppressive way, especially if your goal is to blow off homework or eat candy all day. Our laws are not negotiable, and noncompliance means an automatic timeout. No courts, no lawyers, just torture, which is what staring at the wall for five minutes is to a kid. Our children read what we give them and they only understand the world based on what we tell them about it. We are the most powerful people in their universe.
But we don’t abuse it.
Thankfully, our power hasn’t gone to our heads yet, not like it apparently has for some Americans. Weinstein, Cosby, O’Reilly – their last names have now become synonymous with power-fueled sex crimes. Every Sunday NFL kneelers remind us that some police officers still like to abuse their power. Watch the latest video of the Utah cop abusing his power when a nurse does her job and refuses to allow a blood test. (Link to Video) Trump, the most powerful man in the free world, finds brand new ways to abuse his power daily.
Wiki says the motivations of the abusive person are varied, such as personal gain, personal gratification, psychological projection, devaluation, and envy. Certain personality types feel particularly compelled to control other people.
By ‘certain personality types’ they mean the d-bags and a-holes.
Every leader group in my life – teachers, professors, coaches, bosses, club owners, famous entertainers – has included some d-bags and a-holes. They always crave power and love making their underlings squirm and surrender. It’s their goal to subject others to psychological, physical, sexual, or financial abuse. (Wiki Link)
Yet they’re often in charge.
Today more than ever, it seems. According to Robert Sutton, a Stanford professor who is the author of the book The No A-hole Rule, “You can make the argument that we are living in Peak A-hole.” He says the problem of “disrespectful, demeaning, and downright mean-spirited behavior” is “worse than ever.” (Link to Article)
And that behavior spreads “literally like a common cold,” says Sutton.
Similarly, the article continues, when Trump calls his detractors “haters and losers” in a tweet, when the wallpaper of life is made up of faces that belong to certified a-holes like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Don Jr., etc., etc., ad infinitum, it most likely has a trickle-down effect.
“The more a-holes you’re around, the more a-hole-y you get.”
Which brings me back to my children.
As their dictators, my wife and I have made it clear that there will be no tolerance for d-bags and a-holes in our kingdom. Such behavior is met with scorn and punishment, just as positive behavior is met with praise and reward. As a result, they’re good, kind kids.
But then they go to school.
Unfortunately, the sons and daughters of a few real d-bags and a-holes also attend. Their kids have caught it like a common cold and do their best to spread the ugliness around the school. When my son and daughter come home and tell me about it, I can see they are having a difficult time understanding why some people choose to be mean. It’s my job to give them the best advice I can on handling these types of people, and mine is quite simple.
Get used to it, kids.
America has plenty of good, kind citizens, but ‘certain personality types’ have always lived here. The job of the rest of us is to prevent the d-bags and a-holes from setting the national tone. Sadly, our country’s leader won’t help us here. He’s one of those seekers of personal gain and personal gratification, as are many of the power players who lead our major industries.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be.
What we must be is more comfortable calling out the abuse of d-bags and the a-holes like Weinstein, Cosby, and O’Reilly, more willing to hear the messages of the kneelers and the marchers, more prepared to listen carefully to the victims of these ‘certain personality types’ because power abuse has been going on forever and it’s terrifying to call it out.
The citizens of America who are good and kind must begin to set the tone again. We must become dictators of that goodness and kindness and spread positivity around like a common cold. We must become more powerful than they are. With loud voices we must begin to stand up to the d-bags and a-holes around us and prevent them from becoming our country’s common personality.
Otherwise, get used to it, kids.
- Mike Lukas
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