Imagining yourself as “doing good” can sometimes lead to bad things. You eat more at Thanksgiving because you went to the gym in the morning. The “good” action somehow licenses the “bad” action, because you have a self-image as a healthy person. Similarly, you may commit unethical acts precisely because you consider yourself an upstanding person. You do the heinous thing because, subconsciously or not, you have the halo-credits in the bank.
Psychologists call this “moral licensing” or “self licensing,” and apparently it applies as much to corporate behavior as it does to eating. A new study finds that CEOs are more likely to do bad things when they’ve just unveiled a corporate responsibility initiative. In other words, those leaders that look best may be the ones we should be most wary about.”
“ Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ”
The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination has drawn all manner of retrospectives. But for one woman, the memory of tuning in to the news coverage is particularly poignant. Priscilla Johnson McMillan is the only person who knew both President Kennedy and his killer.
McMillan worked for Kennedy on Capitol Hill in the mid-1950s, when he was a U.S. Senator, advising him on foreign policy matters. She then moved into journalism and in 1959 was stationed in the Soviet Union, reporting for The Progressive and the North American Newspaper Alliance. It was there that she met a 20-year-old American called Lee Harvey Oswald. He was staying in her hotel while trying to defect to the Soviet Union.
McMillan interviewed him. Oswald proceeded to critique the American system and informed her that he was a follower of Karl Marx. “I saw,” he said, explaining why he left the U.S., “that I would become either a worker exploited for capitalist profit or an exploiter or, since there are many in this category, I’d be one of the unemployed.” On that night in Moscow, Oswald also told McMillan that he had a life mission: “I want to give the people of the United States something to think about.”
Four years later, on the night of November 22, as McMillan followed news coverage of the assassination in Dallas from Cambridge, Massaschusetts, charges began to emerge that Oswald was responsible for shooting Kennedy. McMillan was astonished. “My God,” she said, “I know that boy!”
“ We’re in a world now where it’s not enough to be smart. You have to be curious. Curiosity is rare. That level of intelligence is rare. Probably the further up in a business you are, the less intelligent you need to be. At the entry stage, the sieve grows ever tighter and education can only do so much. The truth is we don’t manufacture that many really smart people. ”
“ The Eskimos have all those words for snow, and it seems the only language we have for expressing success is numeric. ”
JIM SOLLISCH, “I Want to be a Millennial When I Retire,” The New York Times, November 5, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/booming/i-want-to-be-a-millennial-when-i-retire.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0
“ Everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes, and recite three poems, in case they are ever trapped in an elevator. ”