Friday, December 2, 2011

Suh-table Behavior?


Ndamukong Suh’s controversial “stomp” on another player in the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers has sparked a lot of debate. Suh asserts that he was merely removing himself from the situation, although many say that his body movement as well as his aggressive playing style would suggest otherwise. Suh has since been handed a two game suspension from the NFL, which he is appealing.
Why do you think such a talented and articulate young man would behave this way? 
Psychological studies have suggested that humans tend to have an asymmetrical bias in our thinking about what causes behavior (Malle, 2006). When one thinks about his or her own negative behaviors, there is a tendency to cite situational factors. Therefore, it is not surprising that Suh has asserted benign intent in this incident.
When thinking about another person’s negative behaviors, we have a tendency to cite a person’s flaws in personality. Therefore, it is likely that the NFL will recommend anger management therapy for Suh to encourage him overcome his personality-based flaw.
I think this issue illustrates a very important concept in the way that humans view other people. The take-home message is that our view of what causes other peoples’ behavior sans investigation is usually fundamentally flawed in one way or another. Of course society has to punish and instruct to protect itself. I think we must continue to seek more accurate knowledge of human behavior that will lead us to treat each other with an increasing amount of justice and grace.  However, I think we must also know that doing so will always be imperfect because of our imperfect thinking.
Thankfully, Isaiah 55:8 suggests that God does not share our fundamental bias. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Also in Psalm 139, David also gives a beautiful account of the all-knowing nature of the creator, saying “Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.” 
Therefore, I believe that in his infinite wisdom, God has the only perspective that can infinitely see both the situational and personal factors involved in human behavior. Thankfully, he is the one to which we must give an ultimate account.

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