Think Fast

My older and younger brother played “think fast” when we were growing up in the 1960s in Elmhurst, Il. They’d call my name, I’d turn around and they’d call, “Think fast!” as they threw a ball my way. I caught exactly zero balls but it was innocent fun. A different kind of think-fast game is not so innocent.

I think-fast all the time, triggered by the conduct of others who aren’t me. What I think is easy. What I believe is different, something to learn as I go along. Belief takes time and includes my own conduct in the mix.

Here is one example from news:  A General of the United States of America resigns shortly after some somebody points out that he has a relationship with an author who wrote a book about him. This gets noticed because a socialite tells authorities she received threats from this author. Opinions emerge think-a-dink-a-do. Lickety-split. Fast.

Are there beliefs to learn? I’m not sure, just considering:

1. When any group establishes standards of behavior, I think fast to question members who don’t meet those standards. Do I understand standards? Does the group, say, have zer0 tolerance for sexual or racial harassment? Does the group tell employees who they can and can’t date? Who picks the standard? I believe standards must protect something precious so here is the hard part: Do I make major decisions based on protecting something precious no matter the personal cost?

2. When a profession establishes a code of conduct, I think fast to question members who violate that code of conduct. Why does a code matter? Journalists, for instance, must disclose any relationship they have to a source. Generally, they can have a relationship but they must disclose it so their words are considered in context.  I believe codes of conduct build public trust when members live them, so here is the hard part:  Do I live my profession’s code of conduct?

3. When a person publicly claims that another person violated a standard or code, I think fast to scrutinize the accuser’s motives. I believe judging another’s conduct is the most serious, most serious, most serious conduct humans ever do, so here is the hard part: Am I willing to have my motives scrutinized?

Belief isn’t a spectator sport, like the think-fast game. It isn’t fun. Not at all.

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About Mrs. Fitz

Hello! I'm Michele Fitzpatrick, a Chicago writer. Like our town, a work in progress. As a journalist, teacher and writing coach I think all of us live our stories and sharing them creates moments that remind us we're connected. And that is enough.
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One Response to Think Fast

  1. Charlie says:

    You really opened up the way I was thinking about this whole issue. My initial reaction to the CIA scandal was basically the following: Why does such a moral concept as marital fidelity matter in an organization that decides such things as how much collateral damage is too much, and whether or not the value of human lives in one hand outweighs a threat in the other?

    Now that you’ve pointed out that there are probably codes of conduct that were violated when decisions were made to play fast and loose with marital fidelity, I see that if we can’t trust someone to follow a code of conduct when the answers are quite simply right or wrong, how can we trust them in a more complex situation?

    Thanks for helping me stretch out my brain a little.

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