Tuesday, May 1, 2012
A guy walks into a bar and orders a beer. He takes a sip and tosses the rest in the bartender's face. Sobbing, he says, "I'm so sorry! I can't help doing that. It's so embarrassing!" The bartender sees his sincerity and suggests he sees a psychiatrist. Six months later, the guy is back. "Are you seeing a psychiatrist?" With a smile the guy says, "Yep--twice a week. He's great!"and then throws his beer into the bartender's face. "Great?? You just threw another beer in my face." "True, but now it's doesn't embarrass me."
At first I laughed at the joke, but then I began thinking about its ramifications and I suggest that it is a commentary on our culture in general, and a significant segment of the therapeutic community, in particular. There is a pervasive belief that there is no objective truth, no absolutes; rather, it is all subjective. It's all about "what is true for you." It's all about your own personal truth, which will vary from person to person, so you are neither sensitive nor politically correct if you disagree with or challenge someone's attitude or behavior. It's all about your "personal preference." If I disagree with someone's personal preference I am regarded as imposing my values on them.
The prevailing sentiment is "There is no moral or ethical absolutes or standards, and therefore who are you to question or challenge or my actions?" It seems as though the goal is to rid ourselves, free ourselves from this prudish Victorian remnant which we call a conscience. Tossing his beer in the bartender's face was not wrong or inappropriate. The beer-toss was his personal preference; who are we to judge? The therapeutic goal was to get over the embarrassment. The embarrassment is the problem. Feeling guilty for his actions is antiquated; it interferes with his self-actualization.
The problem with this predominant worldview is this--we cannot live consistently with that view. It collapses on itself. Sure, I'm fine tossing a beer in your face and who are you to judge me--are you going to judge me for exercising my personal preference? But the minute you toss a beer in my face, how dare you!?! How insensitive and thoughtless can you be!?! You're such a jerk. What right did you have to do that to me?
Do you understand the inadequacy of the prevailing worldview?
If you don't, wait til a guy tosses a beer in your face.