No good deed goes unpunished – a sequel

There is an old saying in Human Resources that simply says “no good deed goes unpunished.” This saying has been around since well before social media. But, social media has highly leveraged this phrase into over-sensitive political correctness.

Mind you, I am all for treating people like I want to be treated. Yet, there is another quote that comes to mind which was told to me by a friend who advised high school students. She said, “Do not give your power away. If you do not take offense, then you are not offended.”

It seems almost daily that someone with notoriety makes an effort to communicate a message offering a self-help tip or commenting on maltreatment of a group or person. Yet, someone or some group takes offense at the tip saying it demeans another group. A key question to ask is did people speaking on behalf of that group take offense? Another is was the slight intended or was it inferred?

I fully recognize there are people like the US President who often intentionally and accidentally offend individuals and groups. These folks need more pushback because they seem less inclined to change or could care less. With that said, the President will often use derogatory comments to distract the media from a greater malfeasance, so focusing on a slight, allows him to change the subject.

What I am speaking to most is people who blow small or unintended things into major transgressions. Using an old phrase, they react as if someone killed their mother. Folks, don’t make mountains out of molehills. In so doing, it is akin to crying wolf. One gets ignored on the more impactful transgressions because people become inured to the constant criticism of smaller ones.

Recently, a celebrity made a point to say exercise and watch what you eat during the holidays and was accused of fat-shaming. She apologized for any perceived slights, but said that was not her intention.

Comedians often focus on generalizations that help people see we all have imperfections. They also are keen on poking fun at lies and hypocrisies in leaders. Of course, they need to be mindful of not going too far, when the humor becomes cruel, but if we cannot laugh at ourselves, we will have a very boring world. I am reminded that President George H.W. Bush loved Dana Carvey’s impersonation of himself as did President Obama of the the “angry Obama” portayed by Keegan Michael Key.

So, let’s pull back on punishing folks for every unintended slight. Let’s not punish good deeds. Pick your battles.  Let’s reserve our offense for more serious slights that lead to bad policies, military deployment or demonize (or make false equivalence for) groups of people or their actions. If we focused on every lie the President said, we would be at it all day.




18 thoughts on “No good deed goes unpunished – a sequel

  1. A very good point Keith.
    It is a measure of the heated times we live in that many people are itching to take offense at anything which does not suit their narrow perspectives.
    Can you believe on YouTube post of “The Hebrew Slaves’ Chorus” out of Verdi’s opera “Nabucco” there are anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli government comments? You could hardly bump into this YouTube extract by accident, these people must go looking for ‘Jewish’ links.
    Over here even the most mundane of comments or pictures of any member of the royal family will have our set of anti-royalists going into ecstasies of outrage.
    From my readings of History Humanity has always had this tendency, these days however it is possible for anyone post up their agitations on the Internet.

    • Roger, great examples. I think you are right about complaining predating the Internet. Now, it is so easy to register a dislike. You reminded me of two things.

      First, I used to have a young man who was destined to be a curmudgeon as he aged. He was highly intolerant of others, but proved the saying those who are intolerant require the most tolerance of others toward them.

      The other saying is you should never argue with a street preacher, as they will be more extreme than others in their views. Now, street preachers have a field day on social media, criticizing others and meeting up with other zealots. Keith

      • Many who make much of being Christian seem to have forgotten these words out of Matthew 25:

        41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
        42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
        43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

        44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

        45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

        46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

        As I see it the New Testament Gospels seem to have a great deal of advice of this sort. Religious Right appears adept at ignoring it and out here in the UK the Strident wing of Atheism goes off on wide inconsequential tangents when you try and quote anything positive from the same source.

        A couple of years ago I started to make a gallows humour joke about more research being needed on a new disease ‘Terminal Stupidity’….It doesn’t sound as funny as it did ‘a couple of years ago’.
        Take care Keith

      • Roger, well said. Whether one believes in the source, Jesus’ words are words to live by. So, atheists should not discount any good lessons therein, nor should Christians. Former President and Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter noted words to divide can be found in the bible, especially when taken out of context. He said we should focus on the bigger lessons taught therefrom. Keith

      • Quite so Keith.
        Looking at the big picture seems to be out of fashion these days.
        (Unless of course one is a Conspiracy Theorist and paints one’s own)

      • Roger, so true. In the absence of leaders who see the bigger picture, these conspiratorial nuts have a field day. In America, we are largely uninformed, so we are easy fodder for these folks. Keith

      • A common problem around the world Keith. In India the ruling BJP party which alleges it is Hindu has suffered a few bad results in a key state and suddenly it is playing the religious card between Hindu and Muslim and people are falling for it.
        In the UK there are a large group, mostly left-wing Labour party supporters who will go in to outbursts of huffing and puffing if the USA or UK fires one missile in the direction of Syria but make no comments about Assad or Russian activity and insist ‘The White Hats’ are a conspiracy.
        As for the sudden ‘discovery’ that Islam has a violent element whose existence ‘of course’ mean all Muslims are dangerous….well the level of stupidity is woefully staggering.
        And on mainland Europe Populism continues to rise, as if WWI & WWII only happened in the movies.
        It is obvious the only respectable intolerance, is intolerance of Intolerance itself.

      • Roger, you paint a frightening picture, especially the two world war references. The final statement is where we are. The tolerant must point out the hypocrisy of the intolerant. They will be accused of being intolerant, but to remain silent while a bigot spews hatred is the far worse sin. Keith

  2. Excellent point, Keith. Thanks for addressing this topic. I wonder if some of the oversensitive political correctness has been a contributing factor to the swing the other way that seems to be the purview of Trump advocates.

    • Thanks Linda. You are right, the backlash against over-political correctness has fueled Trump fervor. They say he says what he thinks, but it is apparent he does not think before he speaks. Keith

      • Does he think at all or simply respond to whatever pinprick has wounded his ego? Actually, I think he is quite brilliant…in a conniving, self-serving way. Unfortunately.

      • Linda, he is obviously smart to achieve success, yet to me his greatest talent is selling. He does not have the patience to do what it takes to be a good manager nor does he have the empathy.

        But, here is the crux of the assertion that he is intelligent. A smart person knows how little he knows. The US President has no trouble in saying he knows it all, moreso than anyone. That is a sales job. Keith

  3. Dear Keith,

    From your mouth to God’s ears, these are words what all of us including the media need to weigh, especially since President Trump lies every time he opens his mouth. He lies so frequently that we can now assume that anything he says is probably a lie, needing to be fact-checked. There needs to be coverage when his reliance on lies interferes with the implementation of policy that is counter to US best interests.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, we are at that point, where he sets policies off his lies and people must sweep up after him. My favorite example is from “Fear,” by Bob Woodward. His Generals and Sec of Defense were waiting downstairs to go over four options on the transgender issue. While they waited for him, he sends three tweets out saying they were going to go with the least constitutional option and that his generals were in agreement. That was a lie. It was also overturned by the courts. He bypassed debate, lied about it and it was overturned. That is the kind of decision making that is harmful and wasteful. Keith

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