I’m a fan of the reality TV show Survivor. I find the psychological interplay among the contestants fascinating. The current season has past contestants battling it out. They’re divided into two teams—heroes and villains. On the villain team is a player who became known in his first go-‘round for his lies to and manipulation of other players.
In last night’s episode this manipulative player took another player aside and confided something to him. The other player believed him, which turned out to be a mistake. That other player was sent home. And, of course, he was shocked that the manipulative player had lied to him.
Well, that’s what liars do.
There’s a saying that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. That’s true. As people are shocked over the latest break-up of a high-profile Hollywood marriage, I can’t say I was. I was saddened. I empathize with the wronged spouse. But, I wasn’t shocked. The man had a well-established history of infidelity.
Don’t get me wrong. I know people can change. I’ve seen it. As a matter of fact, our church has an amazing ministry that helps women effect permanent change in their lives. It’s a joy to watch those women blossom, grow, and change.
When a person changes they start making different choices. Every new choice creates a new picture of past behavior. If someone eats a box of donuts every day, chances are good that they’ll eat a box of donuts today. If today they choose not to eat a box of donuts, chances are still good that they’ll eat that box of donuts tomorrow. However, if they’ve made the choice every day for the past six months not to eat a box of donuts the chances of them eating a box of donuts tomorrow is slimmer. If it’s been six years since they ate a box of donuts, then it’s not particularly likely that they’ll choose to do that tomorrow. That person has created a new pattern of past behavior.
I believe that everyone deserves a chance. I believe that it’s important to allow people the opportunity to make new, better choices. I will tell you, though, that I’m a little more leery of those better choices when the change is recent than when it’s a newly-established pattern of behavior. That doesn’t mean that I won’t trust you. What it means is that if I’ve seen you lie to several people in the past few days I’m going to presume that what you’re telling me might not be the truth.