I worked for someone who was fond of saying, when presented with a particularly brilliant piece of stupid behavior on the part of one staff member or another, “You’re never completely useless. You can always serve as a negative example.” I live in hope that she never said it about me.
Simply, a negative example is someone who provides behavior that you very much don’t want to emulate, and maybe even that inspires you to fight against what they stand for, in however small a way.
Some illustrative examples are worthwhile here, too. I should say that perhaps your mileage will vary. I’m sorry if any of these offend anyone, but I won’t back away from any of them. I would encourage everyone to look for examples of their own, though.
Stephen Harper, as I write this, is still Prime Minister of Canada, though hopefully not for much longer, who brought neo-conservatism to the Great White North and has done his level best to remold Canada into his own image of how the rich elites run everything for everyone else.
Ken Ham, whose belief in a small piece of the Christian mythos is so strong and unshakable that he is able to take a hundred million dollars and more than a decade to recreate the work of a 600-year-old man and his two sons with stone age tools. And, of course, he isn’t afraid to look like a complete tool in front of anyone in a debate on the same.
The entire lineup of people seeking the Republican nomination for next year’s US presidential election. So far, they don’t appear to have two brain cells to rub together between the bunch. While I’m almost certain that can’t actually be the case (biologically speaking, if for no other reason), it’s certainly the image they’re projecting to the rest of the world.
The Taliban, ISIS, and, as far as I’m concerned, any jihadist terrorist group. I suppose it’s nice to be able to have someone in point to and say, “Well at least we’re better than those crazy fools.” But that sets the bar awfully low.
Still, is it that much higher in the West? The Westboro Baptist Church, the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, the Catholic Church, Orson Scott Card, … I’m never going to run out of examples here. Why don’t I just extend this to any group, extremist or otherwise, that promotes hatred, intolerance, or willful ignorance for any part of their belief system.
A little more thought, a lot less dogma, a little more tolerance, and a lot less slathering hatred would be nice from all those folks and many more. They could all be better than they are.
But while they keep trying not to be, I can look to the examples they’re setting and find behaviour to work against.
Be well, everyone.by