In today’s world, it’s the heavyweight bout of objectivity vs. subjective emotion.
A person can learn a lot of things in law school, but some of the more important aspects are: researching the details, checking the reliability of sources, digging out all pertinent facts and keeping accurate records.
It’s being able to argue convincingly BOTH sides of an issue and most importantly, isolating your emotions.
Those who fail to follow these important rules will often find themselves looking like fools in a courtroom setting — and no doubt, elsewhere as well.
It seems today more people than ever are relying on hearsay and emotions to justify personal belief systems. It’s to the point where fanatics are now getting into the personal space of political leaders and shouting unhinged beliefs — as if these aggressive confrontations are somehow going to change the thinking, or at least quiet those with whom they disagree.
While not nearly to these extremes, emotionalism is reminiscent of a story that happened to me several years ago.
I was sitting in my counseling office reviewing some case folders when the boss came in with a disgruntled look on his face. I knew something was awry.
“Hansen, you really screwed up!,” the tall, middle-aged school administrator growled.”
“I did?” was my curious reply. (This wouldn’t have been the first time.)
He continued: “I heard from Mr. “G” at a social event that his younger daughter was contemplating suicide, and you didn’t let him know!”
My first thought was, “That doesn’t sound like me.”
My second thought was: “Mr. Administrator doesn’t have all of his facts. He’s acting out of emotion — wanting to believe what he has heard as unquestionable truth.”
Now the ball was in my court. I could have easily responded impulsively (no one likes to be falsely accused), put up a defensive shield and mustered a rebuttal. But the truth was I didn’t have all my facts at hand either.
So with a stroke of my chin, a scratch of my head and not saying a word, I simply got out of my chair and walked over to a large metal file cabinet located in the corner. I began to thumb through dozens of charts:
“Hummm, Galves, Gifford, Grayson … Ah! here it is - Grover” (all pseudonyms).
I opened the folder and orally read the handwritten information:
“On January18, Gertrude and I discussed her present state of mild depression, along with some thoughts of self-inflected harm. There were no signs of serious intention, and she appeared much better at the end of our session. I scheduled a second visit.”
“A thorough clinical evaluation was administered on the same date. She did not show any significant signs of self-harm. I told her it was in her best interest for me to contact her father and let him know about our discussion. She agreed.”
“At approximately 2:00 p.m. on said date, I contacted Mr. ‘G’ by phone at 555-2316. I told him about his daughter’s mild depression and some suicidal ideation. I recommended a follow-up with an outside clinical agency that would be better equipped to work with her ongoing issues, as opposed to my role of ‘assess and refer.’ He agreed.”
With that conclusion, I put the open folder on top of my desk.
Mr. Administrator was dumbfounded. What could he say? I had the facts. All he could provide was hearsay from a father, who may have deliberately misrepresented the situation.
Mr. Administrator knew I couldn’t have “faked” the notes, as there was no opportunity to do so. Now it was his turn to say nothing. With a blank stare, the man simply turned around and walked away.
I’m sure he had some anger over being made the fool.
However, that was not my doing, but solely his responsibility for believing what he was told without complete knowledge of all relevant information.
People may disagree on perceptions of facts. But segregating one’s emotions during quests for truth is undoubtedly most important for any objective discovery of reality.
Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.