EXPERT WITNESS: Response v. reaction--The practice of reflection before taking action

prev
next

By John F. Sase, Ph.D.
Gerard J. Senick, Senior Editor
Julie Gale Sase, Copyeditor

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

-George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish-American Philosopher

Last month, we delved into the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act through a bill that was introduced into Congress but that failed before leaving the House. This month, we will move to a higher plane and discuss the basis of sound human behavior that is applicable to personal relationships, to matters of law, to the governance of our country, and to the leadership in our global political-economy.

Throughout human history, many personal difficulties, lawsuits, domestic crises within sovereign states, and international wars have resulted from spontaneous reactions instead of careful responses to a myriad of situations. Disaster can strike us as individuals, as sovereign states, or as the world when we fail to study and to apply lessons from the past before moving forward into situations that have been redundant throughout the course of human history. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for our leaders to respond effectively in every aspect of their jobs.

Reaction, Response, and Related Matters

Let us begin by defining what we mean by reaction and response in order to understand how they differ from one another. Reaction may be merely a movement in resistance to some other action or power. As with one chemical or compound to another, a reaction often constitutes a physical behavior that is a move with no thought or reflection to guide it. In contrast, response takes the form of an answer to an event such as a promise or a pledge in return to an offer made. In this respect, response demands the engagement of a set of interrelated behaviors that include the exercise of the sense of responsibility, the acquisition of knowledge, a development of respect, and the act of caring.

Response is joined to a deeper sense of responsibility. Often it determines the difference between base reaction and thoughtful response. Responsibility requires being answerable to another person or persons for something. This act determines the ability of one person to formulate a response rather than just a reaction. As our language and concepts have developed over the past centuries, the meaning of responsibility has come to imply accountability for one's actions while being reliable and trustworthy. It carries with it a sense of obligation to oneself and to other individuals, to human society, and to the planet.

Attaining the ability to respond rather than simply to react requires attainment of knowledge of oneself, of others, and of the world around us as well as the interrelation of everything that affects the course of our life events. The concept of knowledge has evolved from an acknowledgement of some being or thing that is superior to all along with a sense of honor and a need for worship. Knowledge requires the attainment of familiarity and an understanding of the subject at hand. In turn, the development of these attributes requires the awareness of facts as well as the learning and development of an organized body of principles or teachings. This process emanates from a contemporaneous gathering through reason (logos) and knowing through inquiry and experience (gnosis) in order to collect necessary skills, knowledge, and wisdom (sophia).

This combination of responsibility and knowledge co-evolve with the ability to respect. The development of this quality goes beyond the kind of respect that one renders out of blind faith and obedience to some individual or seat of authority. Rather, it is the respect that grows organically through the gathering of knowledge and a growing sense of responsibility that leads us to reflect, to consider, and to treat others with a deferential regard that allows us to hold them in esteem. In turn, this behavior leads us to refrain from injuring others.

This refrainment from negative actions takes us to the co-evolvement of caring. The concept of caring has come down to us through the human story as the ability to feel interest in and concern for others. These actions require us to feel grief as well as joy, lamentation as well as exultation, and sorrow as well as happiness. This element of responsiveness that we know as caring grows through our emotions, which are guided by our minds. Our positive sense of fondness for others grows out of caring through its co-evolution with responsibility, respect, and knowledge. We hope that a mindful approach to our life challenges will guide us through the necessary decisions. Thus, we should expect a true leader to be empathetic at all.

A Reflection

Most of us wish to pride ourselves on being responsive, caring, respectful, and knowledgeable beings rather than socio-psychopathic reactionaries. At times, though, we need to hold up a mirror and to view ourselves as we are in order to determine whether or not the Emperor has new--or no--clothes. Some of us may recall a piece of research that was undertaken a number of years ago. Through on-the-street interviews, average Americans were shown an excerpt from the U.S. Constitution. Most of us like to believe that we are knowledgeable about documents that are core to the foundation of our country. Having been exposed to them in elementary or high school, we hope to recognize the Constitution for what it is. However, many responders in the interviews did not. They stated that they would never vote for such an act because they considered this document to be too radical.

A Brainteaser

In the spirit of such past studies, we invite our audience to read the following passage and to reflect upon it. Voice your "reaction" to it and then seriously consider your "response" before continuing to read the identification and explanation that follows.

A Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Rich

Article 1

In addition to the procedure prescribed by the Constitution, laws of the Rich may also be enacted by the government of the Rich. This includes the laws referred to by Articles of the Constitution.

Article 2

Laws enacted by the government of the Rich may deviate from the Constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the House and the Senate. The rights of the President remain unaffected.

The House of Representatives has enacted the following law, which is hereby proclaimed with the assent of the Senate, it having been established that the requirements for a Constitutional Amendment have been fulfilled.

Article 3

Laws enacted by the Rich government shall be issued by the leader of the government and announced in the Congressional Record. They shall take effect on the day following the announcement, unless they prescribe a different date. Certain Articles of the Constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Rich government.

Article 4

Treaties of the Rich with foreign states, which relate to matters of Rich legislation, shall for the duration of the validity of these laws not require the consent of the House of Representatives. The Rich government shall adopt the necessary legislation to implement these agreements.

Article 5

This law enters into force on the day of its proclamation. It expires on 20 January 2021; it expires furthermore if the present Rich government is replaced by another.

(Note: Articles 1 and 4 give the government the right to draw up the budget and to approve treaties without input from the House of Representatives)

What Is It?

Now that we have read this proposal, have voiced a reaction, and have developed a thoughtful response, let us unmask the original work. With the help of contributors to Wikipedia (wikipedia.org), I (Dr. Sase) retrieved a workable translation of this document from its original language, German. For purposes of the anonymity needed for this brainteaser exercise, I deleted internal Constitutional references and changed both dates and the names of entities discussed to parallel ones to which we are accustomed. In order to avoid any obvious giveaways, I turned to Google Translate (translate.google. com), which curiously produced the translation "Rich." The following text is the original translation posted on Wikipedia:

Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich

Article 1

In addition to the procedure prescribed by the Constitution, laws of the Reich may also be enacted by the government of the Reich. This includes the laws referred to by Articles 85 Paragraph 2 and Article 87 of the Constitution.

Article 2

Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the Constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. The rights of the President remain unaffected.

(Note: The Reichstag served as the sovereign assembly of the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933. Thereafter, Hermann Goering presided over it during the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945. Concurrently, the Reichsrat functioned as the upper house until the Gleichschaltung, the process of the Nazification of Germany, which established a system of totalitarian control and coordination of all aspects of society, which included the economy and trade associations as well as media, culture, and education.)

Article 3

Laws enacted by the Reich government shall be issued by the Chancellor and announced in the Reich Gazette. They shall take effect on the day following the announcement, unless they prescribe a different date. Articles 68 to 77 of the Constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Reich government.

Article 4

Treaties of the Reich with foreign states, which relate to matters of Reich legislation, shall for the duration of the validity of these laws not require the consent of the Reichstag. The Reich government shall adopt the necessary legislation to implement these agreements.

Article 5

This law enters into force on the day of its proclamation. It expires on April 1, 1937; it expires furthermore if the present Reich government is replaced by another.

A Further Explanatory Note

This act is commonly known as The Enabling Act of 1933. The Reichstag enacted and proclaimed this law with the assent of the Reichsrat. This political process established that the requirements necessary for a Constitutional amendment had been fulfilled. It gave Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers for the remainder of the Third Reich.

A Rapport

In presenting this little brainteaser, I (Dr. Sase) dedicate this month's article to my great-great-great-great paternal grandfather as well as to my great-grandparents, who fled the German Empire in 1885 during a period of property seizure and the resultant slaughter of those who resisted Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Given the above dedication and family history, I encourage our readers to consider taking a stance of solidarity with newer immigrants who are fleeing from hostile regimes around the world in the hope of making their way to this country, which continues to stand for freedom.

Reaction instead of response affects the trial work of attorneys, the passage and repeal of laws, and a scattershot implementation of national and international policies. So much low-hanging fruit from past and present cultures is available as examples. However, it is not the intention of this article to cast aspersions at any one individual. Numerous examples of attempted restriction of entry to or exit from a country by citizens and non-citizens exist from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These restrictions have ­tended to be based upon questionable principles and have produced wide, negative economic and political repercussions. In addition, acts of war have been committed by elected political strongmen who reacted without concurrence and without a cohesive response from a larger body politic that represents the voice of the people.

Altamont in the Air

Thomas Demetrio is the attorney for Dr. David Dao, a sixty-nine-year-old Vietnamese-born man who suffered severe physical injury due to undue force when removed from a United Airlines plane in Chicago this past week (corboydemetrio.com/news-statement-united-airlines-passenger.html). In a press conference on 13 April, Demetrio summed up a wider problem. He explained that private-sector airline employees were complicit with public-sector security officers from the City of Chicago who used stormtrooper tactics. Demetrio commented that a wider problem exists in the form of a "culture of disrespect" that has emerged recently in this country and emphasized that this culture needs to change.

Takeaway

We hope that you, our reader, will take the time to reflect on the matters of reaction and response in respect to our daily lives as well as to the survival of our planet. Once you have spent time with these concepts and have come to understand these matters in your own mind, heart, and gut, we hope that you will carry these reflections with you as we begin our (long-) awaited spring bloom.

--------

Dr. John F. Sase has taught Economics for thirty-six years and has practiced Forensic and Investigative Economics since the early 1990s. He earned a combined Masters in Economics and an MBA at the University of Detroit, and a Ph.D. in Economics at Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (www.saseassociates.com).

Gerard J. Senick is a freelance writer, editor, and musician. He earned his degree in English at the University of Detroit and was a supervisory editor at Gale Research Company (now Cengage) for over twenty years. Currently, he edits books for publication (www.senick-editing.com).

Julie G. Sase is a copyeditor, empath, and parent coach. She earned her degree in English at Marygrove College and her graduate certificate in Parent Coaching from Seattle Pacific University. Ms. Sase coaches clients, writes articles, and copyedits (royaloakparentcoaching.com).

Published: Wed, Apr 19, 2017

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »