• Thomas A. Wilson

Less Than the Sum of Their Parts

Underliving people are dangerous. Their antisocial behavior leaves a trail of alienation, disappointment, and worse. The discord usually starts long before they get arrested or incarcerated. Sometimes the trauma sneaks up on friends and family—they didn’t see it coming. Or, if they knew a problem was inevitable, they couldn’t discern the day or hour.

Knowing when a dangerous person is most dangerous, then, is a powerful piece of diagnostic software. What follows is a little cognitive download that will help to mitigate the misery. It's a field-expedient method to determine when to take cover. You're welcome.

First, underliving people are dangerous when they’re lazy. That is, when they’re not working hard in some legitimate enterprise—and they languish. They don’t want to look for a job, or cut the grass, or take out the trash, or even shave. They’re full of excuses. They’re sick. They applied everywhere. There’s no money for gas for the mower. (Too bad the mower doesn’t run on beer, there’s money for that.) Having never been shown how to work, they confuse effort with injury. They play video games, smoke weed, and hang out. They have energy for a quick romp, but not for the dishes.

Underliving people are also dangerous when they feel entitled. They blame their problems on the system, the rich, another race, whoever told on them, their significant-other, God. They feel like others owe them something and they are, therefore, entitled to even the score. A young man, who professed faith, found himself in the back of a police car facing felony charges. His pastor asked, “What were you thinking as you sat, handcuffed, in the back of that police cruiser?” The young man replied, “I was thinking, ‘How could God let this happen to me?’” Really? I guess he thought the Holy Ghost was his fall partner.

The underliving also signal their increasing volatility when they exhibit selfishness. Mi-mi-mi seems to be the only note on their mono-chromatic musical scale. Their song has one tone—and it’s all about them. They become (or continue to be) preoccupied with themselves. They never give.

Finally, underliving people are dangerous when they are short-sighted. They’re focused on the next 15 minutes, and not the next fifteen days. Impulsive, and in the moment, they neither model outcomes, nor consider ramifications.

So, what good is knowing when the geyser is about to blow? One can get one’s face out from over the hole, that’s the value. One might love one’s house by the volcano, but certainly not enough to remain where the lava flow is going to incinerate everything good about the property. Being slowly oxidized from the ankles up isn’t worth it. (Just saying.)

Another benefit of this four-point assessment, if a one will use it, is as a personal functions-check. If one does the inventory, and notices an increase in laziness, entitlement, selfishness, and short-sightedness, then corrective actions can be taken. This is most effective when done by the owner of the system in question. Remember, family and friends can use the test to protect themselves, but it isn’t very effective if they’re hoping to somehow rescue the culprit. You can’t constrain a man from the outside. He must do his own constraining. Oh, you can get compliance for a while, if you have a carrot or a stick. But in the end, you just waste a bunch of carrots and some perfectly good sticks.

Corrective actions include managing the Input Network, saying corrective affirmations, setting goals, managing happiness, and monitoring ethical regulation.

Man School isn’t a bandage—it’s a way of life.


(I)ntegrity is the courage to face the demands of reality. The word courage derives from the Latin root cor, meaning heart. One key to successful manhood is finding the heart to face the unfair.

Theologians talk about head knowledge and heart knowledge. Psychologists talk about the conscious mind and subconscious mind. In many ways, they’re talking about the same thing. Men who want to find heart manage their subconscious through the affirmation process. Read chapter two of Authentic Man School: A Practical Guide for Next-Level Living if need be—if one recognizes foolishness or worse in oneself.

The way out of hell is by internalizing wisdom.

Affirmation of the Week: Since I am responsible for my own success, I diligently work to pursue my daily goals in a way that serves the ones I love, and I do so over the long haul.

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