By Einar Helland Berger - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1754974Unfortunately, we’ve had a wonderful opportunity to see human behavior at its worst this weekend.  There’s no denying that any rational, emotionally feeling human won’t be repulsed by the events that occurred in Charlottesville with the deliberate murder and attacks on people doing what they are guaranteed the right to do under our Constitution – the right to peacefully assemble.

But what’s the most interesting aspect to me is the aftermath – not the peace rallies or the show of support for Charlottesville – but the reaction of those that have been outed as members of the alt-right.

Very few seem to embrace their membership in the Alt-Right/white supremacists/neo-Nazis, etc.

So, I must wonder why they were there in the first place?

And the only answer I can come up with is that they weren’t thinking – they never imagine it would go so far.  That last statement was made by a FBI agent that had the assignment to visit all those people who had been convicted of espionage after all their appeals had been exhausted.  They had nothing to gain and nothing to lose.  But, as the FBI agent told later, almost every person said the same thing – “I never imagined it would go so far.”

This illustrates an aspect of human nature that is nearly universal – the belief that we are special, our situation is unique and history won’t be repeated for us.

Whether you are attending a KKK rally; embezzling funds from your employee; being unfaithful to your significant other; drinking and driving or any of the myriad other things that people do that history has shown is stupid – we know what the likely result is going to be – for others, but we will defy the odds and be different.

Having the self-knowledge of this is important – even Shakespeare noted it:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

I will acknowledge that there are situational considerations that impact outcomes – the education that you have access to; your family situation and support; environmental health impacts – the list is endless.  But I can account for those situations when the individual has a choice.

And we all have choice.  As Stephen R. Covey pointed out, there’s an instance between the input and the response where a person has the ability to stop and think about what the consequences of their response will be and use that knowledge to determine how they should respond.  The truth, unfortunately, is that most people don’t stop to think but just react.

And when you just react the likelihood of being happy with the results is significantly diminished.

What I’m really saying is that we each need to think about our actions and what the real consequences will be and will we be happy with the likely results.

But I’m doomed to be disappointed because while I’m a student of history and understand the likely consequences, there are too many that haven’t studied history and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes others have made.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.