It is an unfortunate aspect of our humanity that “People Talk Themselves into Bad things.”
Skirting Legal issues, Tax Issues, and genuine Moral Issues – we search for justification of what we want to do, rather than what we know we should do.
People self-select facts, ignore those that don’t fit their wishes, resulting in a self-distorting take on reality. Most of use have even seen people self-select physical symptoms out of a larger reality of symptoms to fit a self-selected diagnosis, so it is no wonder we do this in less important parts of our life.
What has this to do with Amateur Radio? It is the simple cause of many conflicts in Amateur Radio when the Golden Rule is abandoned and as a result at least part of a Radio Club is in an Imagined World.
The balance of the Golden Rule? What has that to do with Imagined Justifications for incorrect acts in a Radio Club?
For the Golden Rule to work, there must be three things present concerned the situation – First there must be a shared equal perception of the whole situation, Second there must be a closely held mutual value set, and Lastly there must be a shared willingness to to “play fair.”
So the Golden Rule gets muddled up when people don’t quite see it the same way, or hold different values, or simply have no intent to be fair.
In a club this is often manifest in a period of leadership where a small group of people start to operate as “Kings, Queens, Princes & Princesses” skipping the input of the membership, written constitutions & by-laws and usual decision making process.
They imagine for themselves that this is a “benevolent dictatorship” – that without their taking initiative the club wouldn’t function.
And of course they are quick to be upset if any aspect of the club escapes control (the first place where the Golden Rule breaks down.)
With the transparency and checks & balances of usual club operation & input circumvented this distortion often quickly descends into the putsch becoming self-serving in their dealings, claims of all sorts to support the back-room operation, like “since I’ve been a ham for 50 years….. blah blah blah” and running amuck for not being able to take legal & financial advice.
Parts of the finances are often moved “off books” and other parts commingled enough to cause distortion of accounts. Often they stop keeping records of their back-room decisions and will even start destroying documentation to make audits impossible.
Money, when the Golden Rule is set aside, is a powerful solvent eroding away deeper and further at any trust within a club. When the records are suspect, known problems brushed over (what do you mean taxes, we don’t pay no stinkin’ taxes), off-books books kept (or rather “kept while not kept”), audit trails erased and transparency a problem, the money becomes so possessive to distort what values remain. The idea of Gollum & The Ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy comes to mind.
The repeated claims of “unequal status of membership” by the claims that they have been a Ham since radio was invented and a Club Member for x number of years really flies in the face of the Golden Rule as well. That 99% of their Ham Years have been “Ground Hog Days” where they did exactly the same thing somehow doesn’t factor in their imagined worlds, nor that as long term club members there is even less excuse for their allowing, much less participating, in the circumvention of honest & open club operations.
For a club to survive this sort of episode it is necessary for the membership to reinstate the Golden Rule in terms of club operations. They need to treat ALL members openly and the same. There are no “heavier or lighter” votes in a club, except the need to set aside votes of any person insisting to vote while in conflict of self-interest.
If the putsch group cannot immediately return to fairness, legality and honesty, they need to either “go on time out” disinvolved in the club, or be removed from membership.
The membership must reaffirm the principles of transparency, accountability, ethics and responsibility to the club.
It the bad-dealings of the club are so grievous as to incur tax & legal exposure, it may be more expedient to move the values-driven membership into a new organization, and let the putsch keep the former club.
Yes it is an unfortunate aspect of our humanity that “People Talk Themselves into Bad things,” but they can also talk themselves out of those bad club situations into normalcy.