(This is a part two and won’t make much sense if you haven’t read part one, How to Hit a Home Run in the Game of Good Versus Evil)
We all have the opportunity to interact with others in the course of our daily living. Typically we don’t think too much about their motivations or ethical positions, as we’re focused on our own goals: we want or need information, or an action, from them, to reach these goals, and the interaction is focused on that. That’s ok, of course–that’s how we get things done together.
If we step back from our goals and look at what’s behind the interaction for a second, we can notice that we ask certain people for certain things and not others. We don’t ask a homeless person to lend us money; we don’t ask our grandfathers to help us with our computer science homework; we don’t ask our mothers to shoot pool on a Tuesday when no one else will come out to the bar; we don’t ask four-year-old girls to help us change the oil in our car.
In all four of these cases, we don’t need to ask the people we don’t ask whether they have the ability to help us or not. We know enough about each person involved to know that (while nothing is certain) they probably don’t. This is the positive role of stereotyping, which adds efficiency to our thinking.
While it might be fun to take your mother to shoot pool one time, it is even more fun intentionally to adjust this efficient mental setting consciously one tick to the less restrictive. One simple way is to ask more of strangers (“Hey, do you think this dress fits me well?”), giving them the opportunity to be a jerks and seeing what they do with it. These are like warm-up pitches– you’re not trying to strike anyone out; you’re just working on getting the ball over the plate. And it’s not even risky–what does their opinion matter to you?*
With practice like this, we naturally insulate ourselves against being disappointed by others, which naturally leads us to broaden our image of what they are capable of. And often we are instead pleasantly surprised, as we see the insult they would typically deliver rise to their lips and then falter, in the face of our earnest and well-meaning countenance. (STRRRREEEEERIKE one!) In this case, they are pleasantly surprised as well.
Then on game day, when evil’s designated hitter comes to the plate–that special person in our life who always lies; who always goes behind our back; who always gets their dig in, leaving us dazed and bewildered as the ball flies over our head–we will be ready. We check his/her eyes, assess his/her stance, recall the rest of the team poised behind us, prepared for any outcome and
as if he/she’d ever not earned it. Because without the occasional opportunity, how will he/she ever? Go ahead–carefully and firmly give him/her yet another chance to screw you over. Even if he/she does (connect), your pitch will hit his/her bat so hard her/his hands will burn for the next several hours. And anyway, there goes the ball, directly into the glove of the shortstop — your foolproof-pre-prepared-in-advance-contingency plan.
(How is it umpires add consonants on to the beginning of the word ‘out’? GYYERRRRRRRROUT? That sounds about right.)
Paste on that smile that says ‘Really evil, did that help? Up to you of course.’ All of this the batter/ will remember the next time s/he comes up, making h-im/er all that much more likely, next time, to check his-/herself/ves and do the right thing.
But I estimate that more than 0.500 of the time your trust will be repaid. And then not only have you stopped evil from scoring, you’ve recruited a new outfielder. Or a bat-boy\girl. For the nice guys. Who need a lot of bats.
But do make sure you have all your bases covered first.
Recap for playbook:
In a situation where you are expected not to trust people,
prepare and strengthen then yourself, and
*I like to ask mean-looking strangers.
Shoutout to the guys who watch Family Feud together for Jesus. Quite a feat.