Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Why Ask Why?

“I think that probably the most important thing about our education was that it taught us to question even those things we thought we knew.” 
–Thabo Mbeki

**This article will be slightly different than my other articles. It is written in more of a rambling style. Combining two important, yet very different points.**

Growing up in America I was inundated with many catchy slogans for products that companies were trying to get me to buy.

“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”

“Just Do It”

“They’re Grrrrrreat!”

But there is one slogan that stuck with me, ironically enough, it was for an item that I was too young to purchase.

“Why ask why?”

This was the slogan for a new product from Budweiser known as Bud Dry.

Unfortunately, too many people are following this slogan, and for all the wrong reasons.

Let me explain what I mean.

If there is a controversial issue and I state my side on it, people will automatically assume they know why I side the way I do. They won’t even give me the ability to explain myself.

If we want our children to be able to properly express themselves, we need to allow them to explain their “why” before we proceed in the dialog. 

Just because the twitterverse doesn’t allow them to explain the “why” before they need to defend themselves from their decision doesn’t mean that we need to act similarly.

There is actually a specific reason why I am discussing this, and it is on a topic that I've been meaning to discuss for a long time.

I recently expressed to someone that I am against laws (such as the recent one in Alabama) which ruled that some people who’ve been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor need to receive chemical castration as part of their parole.

Immediately I was accused of being soft on crime, showing too much mercy on the abusers and not caring about victims.

It was assumed that I was against this due to claims of “cruel and unusual punishment”.

Actually, I’m against this for an entirely different reason.

Contrary to popular belief, not every person who sexually abuses a child is a pedophile.

To clarify, there are people who sexually abuse a child despite the fact that
they are not sexually attracted to a child.

These sick individuals will continue to wreak havoc, chemical castration or not.

The reason why I am against chemical castration is because it will give society a false sense of security (e.g. He can be trusted, he has been chemically castrated) when the danger level has not decreased in the slightest.

In summary, there are a few lessons to learn from this episode:
1. Follow the old Enron motto of “Ask Why” and not Bud Dry “Why Ask Why?”. Give your children and others a chance to explain themselves before engaging in a debate.
2. Don’t assume that you know why a person has taken one side over another in a debate.
3. Pedophilia (i.e. the sexual desire for a child) is not the only reason why people sexually abuse children. To put in place an intervention that only solves those who abuse due to a sexual attraction is incomplete.

Then there is the fourth lesson.

We can do things because it makes us feel good, or we can do them because it is what is needed.

For many people the idea of castrating a child molester feels good. Just look at all the comments online when mentioning a child molester. “Kill him”, “Beat him up with a baseball bat” (and more colorful ideas that I won’t mention here). These things are not said as an idea to help make communities safer, rather they are said because it makes the person offering these creative punishments feel better.

Unfortunately, doing something because it makes us feel good or feel safer doesn’t actually mean it makes us safer. Often it can do the exact opposite by giving people a false sense of security.

When doing an intervention of any kind, be truthful with yourself. Ask yourself if you are doing it for the sake of the other person/society or because it will make you feel good/safer.

If it is for the sake of another person or society, go ahead and intervene. Otherwise, the intervention might not be a good choice, despite the feeling it will give you.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

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1 comment:

  1. @Yisroel, the style and content are solid. It is also well formatted.