Dr George Simon on the Ray Rice affair
Dr George K Simon Jnr reflected on the Ray Rice affair a few days ago. Simon is a clinical psychologist whose work we often recommend on this blog, His audio broadcast where he shares his thoughts on the Ray Rice affair can be found here.* [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] He says that the Ray Rice affair illustrates how society no longer values character enough.
*By the way, when you listen to Dr Simon’s broadcasts you will hear a song at the beginning. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea music-wise, and for those of us who are not US citizens it may grate because of its American patriotism. My advice is: if you don’t like the song much, just let it pass and pay attention to his verbal message. 🙂
George Simon’s weekly broadcast is called Character Matters. What does it mean to ‘value character’? It means to put a high value on what is (or used to be!) commonly known as ‘good character’ — the regular practice of virtues like respect and consideration for the rights and needs of others and for the wellbeing of society, truthfulness, courtesy, thrift, financial probity and responsibility, care for the poor and the weak in society, temperance, avoidance of vice, and choosing to work for long term improvements rather than short term gratification.
If we are to assess the health of society, character decline is the enemy within. That is what Dr Simon says. He says that in his lifetime he has seen such a decline in character in society that it is mind boggling.
Indigenous societies often put a high value on the wisdom of elders. I believe Dr Simon should be seen as one of western society’s elders, and listened to carefully.
There are still people of good character, but they are fewer and further between. Dr Simon believes, and I agree with him, that we have fertilized the growth of narcissism in our society by the excessive pursuit of hedonism, affluence gone to seed, and praising people for their natural gifts and privileges (such as good looks, intelligence, wealth, athletic or artistic capacities) rather than:
- praising people for the effort they put into developing whatever gifts and privileges they may have been born with, and
- praising and rewarding those who put consistent effort into developing good character and moderating and tempering their individual weaknesses.
What we have today is a society in which the minority of people who still do take character seriously, are taking responsibility for more and more people who just don’t care, who have various degrees of character disorder, sometimes malignantly so, who don’t respect the reasonable rights and needs of others, and who don’t give a fig for their own character development and maintenance. They just don’t think it matters.
Readers of this blog know only too well how the character disordered individuals leave messes in their wake. They cause confusion and trauma to those they run roughshod over, those they manipulate and those they lie to. They leech money and attention from other individuals and from society. They stir up chaos. The mess they create needs to be fixed up and repaired by society, and the individuals who are doing the repair jobs — that shrinking minority of individuals who have good character — are getting more and more burned out by the burden of repair and clean-up they are carrying. Whether it be in a family home where one person is carrying the load for a lazy other, or in the broader society where justice and human welfare professionals are cleaning up and trying to restrain the mess-making of the character disordered mayhem makers, the load is growing, and the pool of load-bearers is shrinking . . . while the proportion of fools, narcissists, lazy, over-entitled and wicked is rising.
All systems in society need major improvements and in some cases, major overhauls, if this trend is to be turned around. But that will not happen unless more individuals and we as a whole society recognize that character matters. This is George Simon’s message, and he keeps repeating it in many ways with different illustrations and case studies.
Each time I hear or read George Simon’s messages, I am impressed how much they concord with the principles of Christian living — true Christian living in contrast to
(a) the Christianity of lip service Sunday-ism: the glossy magazine version of Christianity that is read and remembered with about as much attention as a glossy magazine is read and remembered (b) the livid underbelly of glossy magazine Christianity: the wickedly distorted doctrine and teaching that devalues certain groups and individuals and that folds all the wickedness under the rug and sews it into seams and hidden pockets where it can breed and exercise its creeping power and control over its victims, unrestrained by the light of justice.
George Simon’s broadcast next week will feature an interview he did with me, Barbara Roberts. You can listen to it live, or download the show later. We will give our readers a reminder about this interview a day before it airs live. But you might like to put it in your diaries now:
Sunday 21 Sept, 7pm Eastern Daylight Time USA / 4pm Pacific Daylight Time USA
= Monday 22 Sept 9am Australian Eastern Standard Time.
The Character Matters show broadcasts on the web each week at the time given above, but if you plan on following it regularly, be aware that the time equivalents will change when daylight saving clicks over.
To hear archived programs from Character Matters, go to UCY.TV. When you go to the ucy.tv website, whatever happens to be broadcasting at the time will be automatically streamed live to you but you can stop this by clicking the pause button on the right hand section of the page. Then at your leisure you can scroll down the page till you see the Character Matters archives in the left hand column.
I have to say that when Dr Simon interviewed me for this upcoming show the experience was profoundly inspiring and moving for me. Dr Simon is nearing the end of his professional life and I believe we would do well to value, appreciate and absorb his wisdom while time still allows.
I encourage our readers to tune in regularly to Dr Simon’s broadcasts; you can even phone in to his show while it’s airing to ask him a question or make a comment. His blog is Manipulative People and he also writes articles for Counselling Resource Mental Health Library. His three books are listed on our Books By Author page and we have a tag for all the post on ACFJ which refer to him: tag for George Simon Jnr