Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Social Forces & Car Wrecks

In Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” he discusses six “weapons of influence” that effectively cause people to say “yes” when they would otherwise say “no,” or vice versa.

These weapons of influence are based on psychological factors to which we blindly respond.

One of the six is called “social forces.” In a nutshell, this regards the way that we tend to do what everybody around us does when we find ourselves in uncertain situations.

If you’re outside in a group of people and look up at the sky, many of the people around you will likewise look heavenward. When I recently received a free first class upgrade (because my coworker is a member of the airline’s credit card/premier access program), I had to look around to see what everybody else was doing with the warm, wet washcloth I was given (we don’t get those in coach!). This may even explain the mystery of “chain yawning.”

An example Cialdini gives has to do with car wrecks. If we see a car stranded on the side of the road, are we likely to stop and offer to help? The answer depends heavily upon where we are and how many other cars are on the road.

This is an uncertain situation. Do they need help? We don’t know. Should we stop? We don’t know.

If we are on a rural road with no other cars around, we are very likely to stop to check on the stranded and offer any assistance we can give.

However, if we are on a busy highway with several other motorists, we are very likely to drive on by and leave the stranded folks to fend for themselves.

There are obviously multiple factors at work in this scenario, but a key one has to do with social forces. We are in an uncertain situation, and we take our cue from those around us. They drive on by, so we drive on by. We even quiet our conscience by focusing on the number of cars passing the same stranded car- most if not all of whom will do the same thing we just did, which is drive on by.

We see a problem that may or may not need our attention and assistance, and we trust that somebody else will do what we know we should do- and what we would do in the absence of the crowd of other cars and their social forces.

The same is true on the highways of life.

One example comes from Judge Paul Pressler and the Conservative Resurgance in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Judge Pressler saw the direction that some liberal leaders in the SBC were heading, and trying to take the rest of the convention along for the ride. He did some research, compiled the information he found, presented the information to his church leadership, and wrote letters to leaders within the convention and its institutions- and he expected somebody else would share his concerns and do something about it.

He expected some of the other SBC motorists- especially those with more influence and authority- would stop, assess the situation, and get the convention back on the right road.

But they didn’t. So Judge Pressler did, along with some like-minded motorists he found along the way, most notably Dr. Paige Patterson. If he had not, it is likely that most Southern Baptists would by now be rejecting the authority and innerancy of the Word of God, ordaining lesbian pastors, etc.

One major problem in America right now has to do with social forces and car wrecks.

Nobody denies that our $16+ trillion debt is an economic car wreck- and that’s just one of many car wrecks brought on and left alone by both political parties.

And just like a stranded car on the side of the road, we all just drive on by and expect somebody else to do something about it.

I was like that, too, until the Washington-led car wreck directly affected me.

I was arrested in January 2010 in front of an abortion clinic in Louisville, KY. In May 2010, the Louisville PD agreed that it was a bad arrest and dropped the charges in exchange for me serving the community by painting the nursery at my church, which I would have done anyways.

That summer I moved to Houston, TX, thinking the whole ordeal was behind me. Boy, was I wrong.

In December 2010, Eric H. Holder, Jr., the Attorney General of the United States of America, clothed in the immense power of the United States Department of Justice, backed by the United States Treasury Department whose funds are taken from your paycheck and mine, and acting on behalf of Abortion Activist-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama, filed a lawsuit against little ol’ me.

Once I found myself on the side of the road, smack dab in the middle of the $16+ trillion pileup, I was much more interested in the carnage than I had been when I was free to just drive on by with the rest of you.

What I have found has shocked me, but I’m not writing to you today about what I found. My goal today is not to discuss what I found or persuade you to agree with me about any particular issue.

My goal today is simply to flag you down and get you to stop and look at the problems our elected leaders have given us- to plead with you to stop and help. Our debt crisis alone has a very strong likelihood of destroying America as we know it, and nobody in Washington or in the media is giving it the attention it deserves. Nobody is demanding accountability from the politicians who refuse to address our problems because bad news and problems and spending cuts and fiscal responsibility might not be the best way to win elections.

The pileup just keeps getting bigger, and most of America just keeps driving by.

So please, take a break from “Snookie” and “The Situation.” Take a break from your fantasy baseball teams. Take a break from ESPN. Now that “The Office” is no longer running there’s not that much good on TV anyways.

We must get involved now, before it’s too late. We must stop electing and re-electing politicians who vote for the highest bidder rather than for the best interests of their constituents. We must start electing the best candidate for the job, rather than the candidate with the biggest campaign bank account.

We must understand and affirm the values and freedoms that our founding fathers gave their blood, sweat, and tears to establish, that our soldiers fought for and won from the greatest empire in the world in the Revolutionary War, and that our soldiers have fought and died for numerous times in numerous wars throughout the world.

They gave their lives so that Americans and others could have the freedoms we take for granted. The freedoms that our politicians are risking, and that our voters sacrifice time and again for politicians’ promises of health, wealth, & prosperity. Without freedom, all the health, wealth, & prosperity in the world will be meaningless.

The problem with the car wreck in Washington is that we won’t be able to drive past it forever. Sooner or later, you will find yourself entangled in it, just like I did.

Stop and get involved now- like you would want somebody to help you if you were the one stranded on the side of the road- before it’s too late.

July 2, 2013 Posted by | Persuasion, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment