Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The SAT (Spatially Aware Test): Are you spatially aware?

Having the ability or right to do something is not the same as it being the polite or spatially aware thing to do. So many of the situations that we currently face in the US could be solved using the Spatial Awareness Test. Essentially it's a case of personal responsibility and do unto others as they would do unto you. This test can be applied to many individual situations we face during the day as well and would help to make us a more considerate society. Should I cut that guy off in traffic? Should I skip the line at the deli? Should I race ahead of that old woman to get in front of her at Starbucks? While I can and most definitely could, should I?

What is the SAT (Spatial Awareness Test)?

The SAT consists of applying the following questions to a situation. If you can answer yes to all of the following, your decision/course of action is spatially aware.

1. If this situation happened to me, my spouse or family, would I be OK with it?
2. Would I be confident enough in my decision to tell my kids and be able to explain it in a way that they would understand?
3. Would I be able to sleep soundly at night knowing how I treated that person or group?
4. Would I be willing to go on the news or be interviewed by a newspaper and proudly state my opinion of the issue?
5. Would a reasonable person who I met as a stranger on the street hear my decision/course of action and think that it was perfectly sane or consistent with normal behavior in your country?

Let's take a look at a few of the major issues in our country today and apply the SAT (Spatial Awareness Test) to them.

The Quran Burning

The First Amendment of the Constitution defends our right to public displays of protest, flag burning, free exercise of religion, etc. Seemingly, this would also protect the Dove World group's right to burn Quran's in protest this coming weekend. However, what purpose does this really serve except to enrage a group of people that otherwise would have had no knowledge of your actions? Is this a shallow attempt to build followers and publicity for this church? If so, shame on them. If not, what purpose does it serve to publicize the event other than to enrage an otherwise disengaged group of people (the large percentage of Muslims in the world) and give "bulletin board" material to Islamic extremists? Now, I would defend their right to burn the Quran but I hardly agree with them doing it.

Let us apply the SAT:

1. If a small mosque of Muslims in Florida joined together and burned the Bible, what would this church say?
2. What would their children say other than it seems silly to burn a book.
3. Seems like they might sleep soundly resting on over-zealous religious faith.
4. They have already taken to the news outlets so this would be no-go. However, they've done so as a church group, not as individuals. Would they each go on record with their name, address, etc.?
5. I would guess that there are less than .00001% of Americans who would see this activity as normal.

The Ground Zero Mosque
This is a situation that I try to work with my kids on all the time. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I will defend the rights of the Ground Zero mosque people to place their mosque there but I am absolutely in the camp that they SHOULDN'T due to the emotions, outcry and anger it has stirred up. Take the land offer from NY State and put it elsewhere. If the organizers of the GZ mosque were more spatially aware, they would move quietly elsewhere and take the high road.

Just because you CAN reach the toaster now doesn't mean you should see if your fork fits in it.

1. If we put a large Christian outreach center across the street from the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca or some other venerated site, would you quietly allow it?
2. How do you handle it if your child bothers another child by teasing, poking, hitting, etc.? Would you allow it to continue by placing them in the same room or same space? Or would you separate them for a bit, let them cool down and then talk about playing nicely?
3. Not sure about this one. It seems that the organizers are getting a perverse joy by placing the mosque in this location.
4. The organizers of the GZ mosque have been very quiet about their intentions, etc. for the center given the outcry and anger while letting others stir up civil rights, racism, intolerance arguments. If they addressed the media, it may shed some light on why they are choosing this site and insisting on continuing the process.
5. Given that over 70% of Americans are against the placement, it would seem that this behavior would be considered abnormal.

Illegal Immigration

Immigration will continue to be a hot button issue for years as many Americans still identify themselves based on their heritage (ex. "I'm half Irish and half Italian" or "I'm a mutt") along with being an American as compared to most other countries who are more nationalistic in their identity. There is still a romance about America being the melting pot based on our formation as a country. This clouds the issue of Illegal Immigration as it avoids the real crux of the situation and how it effects our entire country. Just because I don't agree with Illegal Immigration doesn't mean that I hate or dislike or mistrust people from other countries. In fact, I embrace our diversity, I just want the people in our country to be here legally and to be documented as such. Let's see what the SAT would say about this situation:

1. If I illegally entered your country, siphoned jobs, resources, etc. would you tolerate me and allow me to get by without speaking your language, paying taxes, contributing to social security, etc? Would you allow me to steal documentation, educational resources, etc. without recompense?
2. If I told my kids that I was going to go to another country, take everything I needed without paying for it, what would they say?
3. First and foremost I could sleep well knowing I took care of my family but knowing that I was fleecing someone else out of the resources they've paid for wouldn't sit very well with me.
4. Would you be willing, as an illegal immigrant, to stand up and say in the press that "I'm here illegally and I'm proud of it!"? What would happen if I did that in your home country?
5. Is lurking in the shadows of society, not paying taxes, avoiding showing legitimate documentation, all considered normal? I would argue no and it seems that the majority of Americans would agree with me as well.

These are but a few examples of the SAT and how it could be applied. We as a country have become overly tolerant for fear that we offend someone or step on someone's toes. As a result it seems like those willing to flaunt that tolerance for their own gain are called victims when we find out about their chicanery.

I submit that we as a country should begin applying the SAT more regularly to our everyday lives and start taking personal responsibility to "being the change you want to see in the world" (thanks Ghandi).

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