Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Structural Safety Paradox

(This essay is from It Is The Secret, available at book.paul.town)

There is a pattern that tends to happen with regards to well defined structures. The
pattern, where a structure or institution becomes well defined then its definition is used to take
advantage of people who know that structure or institution for its definition by behaving in a way
that is different than how it behaved in its past. This incongruence between what was in the past
and what is now has a certain amount of lag time before observers catch on to the changes and
update the definition/reputation of the structure or institution accordingly. This lag time can be a
good thing or a bad thing, depending on what the change is and from who’s point of view (from
inside or outside the institution or structure) you’re seeing things.

To make this pattern more clear, I will use a usually emotionally charged topic but not in
a disrespectful or glib manner. I will also be saying these things in neither an accusatory or
dismissive manner but rather a more analytical case study manner. The pattern in mind is
organized religion and how it interacts with local communities. If a community is in a bad shape
and a church/temple/center/etc gets built in that community and ends up helping the community,
the church/temple/center/etc will gain a positive reputation over time. That reputation will filter
down to the people running or helping the church/temple/center/etc to varying degrees. All that
is healthy, and over time as the positive reputation grows and the community begins to trust
people running that church/temple/center/etc and rely on them, then the church/temple/center/etc
all gain influence (justifiably) over people that trust and look up to them.

Now that the reputation has been built up, the church/temple/center/etc becomes a target
for people who don’t have a reputation and don’t want to benefit the community but rather take
advantage of the lag time between a reputation accurately reflecting behavior. This is the reason
why child abuse seems so common in lots of different religious sects/denominations: the good
people built up an organization that benefited the most vulnerable, the vulnerable learned to trust
the organization made up of good people, then bad people who want to take advantage of
vulnerable people managed to trick or corrupt good people into giving them influence in the
organization. As such, a paradox of sorts is observed: the longer an organization is good, the
more incentives bad actors have of taking over an organization.

The key to this pattern seems to be linked to people attributing human elements such as
personal character or warmheartedness or honor to whatever structure/organization that the
people with those human elements is involved in. This misplaced trust/mistrust then causes them
to react to the shell of the structure even if the contents of it have changed and different people
are now involved. People don’t ever change who they really are, but structures/organizations can
change the people who make them up or manage them, which means that structures/
organizations are generally lagging representations of changes within that structure or
organization, and external peoples’ opinion/views on that structure or organization is a lagging
representation of a combination between their interactions with the people making up the
structure or organization as well as their current opinion of the structure or organization and how
those two differ, which means another layer of lag is added.

There is an upside to this in that things with negative reputations can be utilized and
move with less attention for quite some time more than an objective blank slate appraisal would
entail if utilized properly. This aspect of reputational lag is a discussion for another time and falls
outside of the scope of this essay, but it does exist.

(This essay is from It Is The Secret, available at book.paul.town)

No comments:

Post a Comment