Not So Bad Is Bad

There is a famous fable about a frog that goes something like this...

"They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water
it will leap out right away to escape the danger.

But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant,
and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling,
the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.
The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes." 

I believe that that one of the most dangerous phrases is, "That's not so bad."  Think about it for a second...  How many of us have used this phrase at one time or another? At it's core this phrase is one giant rationalization,  a type of pernicious denial that slowly but surely eats away at one's character. At the very least these rationalizations detract from one's character and at worst they are immoral, unethical, or even criminal.  Here are some everyday examples of how this phrase is applied in our lives  (For added effect say, "that's not so bad after each one)

  • If I add in an extra 15 minutes to my time sheet at work...
  • If the cashier gives me an extra dollar back...
  •  If I bail my adult child out of this "one last jam"...
  •  If I eat that big mac...
  • If I give in to my child's tantrum "just this one time"...
  • If I skip the gym "just today"...
  • If I use my credit card for this great sale item...
  • If I buy that risque outfit that my teenage daughter wants...
  • I know that I didn't stay till the end of mass, but at least I went...
  • I usually get to work a few minutes late but...
  • If I just glance over my classmate's answers just once...
  • If I don't make my bed today since nobody is coming over...
  • If I watch so and so prancing around naked in that famous music video...
  • If I talk behind somebody's back...
I am in no way advocating scrupulosity; I have many times in my life done these things. (that's why it was so easy for me to come up with this list.) Human nature is strange because when you rationalize one thing you wind up justifying its cousin the other thing; and before you know it you are not as principled as you thought you were. You have become like the frog in the fable, realizing when it is too late that your life had been wasted in the boiling water of, "that's not so bad".  But unfortunately when you get to that point it is too late and you end up saying to your kids, friends, family, and fellow co workers "do as I say-not as I do."

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