When cultivating a good life, having a degree of clarity about our own priorities, beliefs, goals and principles is absolutely essential for guiding our decisions and achieving a measure of inner-peace.
But the world is a complicated place. Developing a balanced opinion on one subject is tricky enough, let alone trying to form an entire personal philosophy or world view that is fair and measured. When I am checking for hypocrisy, double-standards, injustice or unreasonable bias in my ideas, I find it helpful to use the substitution test. Inserting the name of another person, group or situation can quickly expose subconscious biases, and help to highlight the broader principles at stake. (Of course, this is also a very useful tool for highlighting other people's hypocrisy and double-standards, during discussions and debates.)
Here is an example: "Smokers should be denied health care treatment as they are knowingly engaging in risky behaviour". Hmm, OK. But how about "football players should be denied health care treatment as they are knowingly engaging in risky behaviour" or "children who fall off skateboards should be denied health care treatment as they are knowingly engaging in risky behaviour". The issue suddenly seems a bit murkier, doesn't it?
This device has been used to brilliant effect at the blog Super Busy Dad. By taking advice and articles targeted at women, and simply substituting the word 'men', the blog highlights the absurd expectations and double-standards that continue to plague the move to gender equality. There is also a Twitter feed at Manwhohasitall. Ah, humour: such a great tool for social change!
RISE AND SHINE BUSY DADS! Now is a good time to colour correct your face, make peace with your ageing hair and stop being so unreasonable.— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) February 3, 2016
NEW DAD? There are many ways a mother can be involved in her child's life. It's your job to encourage her to play a full and active part.— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) February 1, 2016
TODAY'S DEBATE: Is Men's History really too political to be taught in the classroom?— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) February 1, 2016
TODAY'S DEBATE: Should men planning to start a family be legally obliged to tell their employer?— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) January 8, 2016
5 New Year resolutions for working dads 1) banish daddy guilt 2) delegate chores 3) lose weight 4) schedule 'me-time' 5) drink more water— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) January 3, 2016
Working husband? How do you succeed at work? Rob, age 35, "I'm not afraid to wear colour". Inspirational.— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) February 2, 2016
WHY is it wrong to address a mixed group as 'girls'? I honestly don't get what all the fuss is about. World's gone mad.— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) February 2, 2016
TIME TO GET UP DADS! Before your wife & kids. Now is the time to prepare healthy snacks, get a load of washing in & replace LOST MOISTURE.— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) February 2, 2016
If you struggle to get your wife to do her share of the housework, it could be that your standards are too high or you criticise too much.— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) January 31, 2016