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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Wild West Mentality

The essential ingredient in the Wild West Mentality is that it is often necessary to take the law into your own hands.  That’s why in the Wild West, the gun was a man’s best friend.  Since the law and the police power of the state were not there to help you achieve justice, you had to determine justice yourself and use the threat of violence to back up your views of it.  What I’ve learned is that people in a civilized society can entertain a severely cynical view of human relationships—“everyone is out to get me and I am the only one who can stand up to protect myself and those I love.”  My most reliable friend, in this case, is the threat of violence in some form or other—often with the suggestion of the ultimate threat “back off or you’re dead” is at least implied.

Such a person becomes a highly difficult person to employ or befriend since their cynical view of others means that one can’t win with them—they become highly sensitive and defensive and suspect that everyone is out to disrespect them.  This person is extremely immature for they never can put themselves in another’s place.  The only point of view they employ is their own.  They never are able to ask “If I were in my boss’s place what would of necessity be guiding my behavior?” or “If I were the store clerk, would I ever have tendencies to question assertions by a customer regarding a sales receipt?”  Every caveat by anyone automatically becomes a sign of profound disrespect and a personal affront worthy of the appeal to physical violence.

That’s how they attempt to get their way—not by persuasion, cooperation, persistence, and negotiation—but by the violence ultimatum.  This is a sad situation, since it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  By assuming bad intentions on the part of others, they employ a “chip on the shoulder” attitude which in fact results in people putting up their guard against them.  The boss, for example, may find the need to threaten termination of employment if the attitude is not changed.  This only fuels the cynical, defensive attitude already in evidence.  This then can result in actual job termination.

One is tempted simply to say to such people, “Grow up.”  But of course in their mind, the tall tough gun slinger of the Wild West is the epitome of a “real man.”  A real man facing an antagonistic world threatens violence at the slightest provocation.  The way out of the dilemma is to somehow instill empathy.  But that quality is viewed as the trait of a weenie to be resisted unto the death.  Thus, such a person can find they are unemployed and unemployable, further justifying in their own mind their cynical view of the world.  All comers become an eternal and ever-present threat to their freedom and liberty.

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