I agree, Skeptic.
So often people who have been through LGATs might do something that is generally regarded as poor manners. But now, to get past taking responsibility for their poor behaviour, they use what they are taught in the LGATS: "That's your interpretation".
They say we must change how we interpret the behaviour and then there is no problem. What simplistic thinking!
To quote Ash from another thread:
*Posit that there are "two parts" of any event: the facts of the event, and your interpretation of them.
*Your interpretation contains 100% of the actual "meaning" of the event. The event in and of itself is neither good nor bad; right or wrong; beneficial or hurtful.
*Therefore, "good" and "bad", being nothing more than your own interpretations, are nothing more than impressions driven by feelings.
My own grandstanding: this is moral relativism driven to a dangerous brink. I'm not sure if I agree with moral absolutism, but I do think that there are certain actions that humans can take which, for very good reason, have been almost universally identified by society as being "wrong". Mass murder would be a great, black/white example. A real warning sign is if you talk to someone who can't agree with you that mass murder, in any form, carries with it the taint of evil (however you choose to define "evil"). The gray areas come when you try to define whether war is mass murder...etc...etc...hence I'm not sure I believe in straight-up "moral absolutism". The point, nevertheless, is that critical thinking is in play with any such conversation!
*Once LF has gotten you to this point, they can then start to rah rah rah you into believing that anything bad that has happened to you in your life was nothing more than your own impressions. Since you control those impressions, they can change! Voila, the raped woman finds happiness! Hurray, the man abused by his father can forgive his Dad! It all meant nothing! We're free to live our lives without fear because fear is nothing more than our impressions; there is no reality actually behind the fear!
*While those who fall into this line of thinking with Landmark can be accused of forsaking critical thinking and being, in some way, intellectually dishonest, they cannot be faulted for eagerly accepting what the Landmark Forum is telling them. In many ways, Landmark is offering the ultimate "return to childhood", where everything is made right by a benevolent figure (even if they exist only in your fantasies). It's just so easy to want to believe that there is nothing hard and evil in the world. All we have to do is change our internal perceptions and "bam!", we can never be truly hurt again. we can now be fully "authentic" and embrace life, living each day to its fullest because no longer will we let ourselves be hurt.
This ultimately will have the effect of insulating us from everything that is wonderful in life. Everything that can produce the greatest joys, the deepest fulfillments. Because life is about vulnerability, and vulnerability is about admitting that pain, suffering, and madness (evil, even) is decidedly real. Yes, even your own internal disillusionment and/or pain is real, and was caused by real things happening. I'd even posit that fully admitting this to yourself is one of the first steps towards a REAL "authentic" experience. Bottom line, real life carries with it the potential for danger and for preciousness...all at once.
Only when you can be vulnerable to the reality of life are you capable of really appreciating the precious moments (time with your children, with your parents, with loved ones in general...time alone as well, enjoying what you love/like the most).
*Even more disturbing, Landmark Forum's "reprogramming of your moral compass" results in some very disturbing ambiguity. I began to suspect this in my wife, and confronted her with the classic example. I said to her "so, answer me this one simple question: when Hitler embarked on a campaign of genocide, was what he did right or wrong?" Her immediate answer was "well, for those affected, it was..." I retorted "no, that's not what I asked, I asked if it was RIGHT, or WRONG. Plain and simple, today, right now, for you, was it right, or wrong?" ........"well it happened in the past".....etc.
She couldn't face it. At the core of my being this hurts me. I know that if I'm to stay with this woman we have a long road to trod, but as it stands, we can't even face the REAL relationship issues we have until some of these fundamental LF tenets are challenged.
Anyone else have any success working through this?
That's where it all falls down. Black and white thinking, simplistic thinking, doesn't work!
Here is a different interpretation of the black/white thinking issue.
It does work, if you're right, an idea the cultists discount.
"The Cult of Moral Grayness"
by Ayn Rand
(published in THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, June, 1964,
and included as chapter 9 in the book, THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS):
One of the most eloquent symptoms of the moral bankruptcy of today's culture, is a certain fashionable attitude toward moral issues, best summarized as: "There are no blacks and whites; there are only grays."
This is asserted in regard to persons, actions, principles of conduct, and morality in general. "Black and white," in this context, means "good and evil." (The reverse order used in that catch phrase is interesting psychologically.)
In any respect one cares to examine, that notion is full of contradictions (foremost among them is the fallacy of "the stolen concept"). If there is no black and white, there can be no gray -- since gray is merely a mixture of the two.
Before anyone can identify anything as "gray," one has to know what is black and what is white. In the field of morality, this means that one must first identify what is good and what is evil. And when a man has ascertained that one alternative is good and the other is evil, he has no justification for choosing a mixture. There can be no justification for choosing any part of that which one knows to be evil.
If a moral code (such as altruism) is, in fact, impossible to practice, it is the code that must be condemned as "black," not its victims evaluated as "gray." If a moral code prescribes irreconcilable contradictions -- so that by choosing the good in one respect, a man becomes evil in another -- it is the code that must be rejected as "black." If a moral code is inapplicable to reality -- if it offers no guidance except a series of arbitrary, groundless, out-of-context injunctions and commandments, to be accepted on faith and practiced automatically, as blind dogma -- its practitioners cannot properly be classified as "white" or "black" or "gray": a moral code that forbids and paralyzes moral judgment is a contradiction in terms.
If, in a complex moral issue, a man struggles to determine what is right and fails or makes an honest error, he cannot be regarded as "gray"; morally, he is "white." Errors of knowledge are not breaches of morality; no proper moral code can demand infallibility or omniscience.
But if, in order to escape the responsibility of moral judgment, a man closes his eyes and mind, if he evades the facts of the issue and struggles not to know, he cannot be regarded as "gray"; morally, he is as "black" as they come.
Many forms of confusion, uncertainty and epistemological sloppiness help to obscure the contradictions and to disguise the actual meaning of the doctrine of moral grayness.
Some people believe that it is merely a restatement of such bromides as "Nobody is perfect in this world" -- i.e., everybody is a mixture of good and evil, and, therefore, morally "gray." Since the majority of those one meets are likely to fit that description, people accept it as some sort of natural fact, without further thought. They forget that morality deals only with issues open to man's choice (i.e., to his free will) -- and, therefore, that no statistical generalizations are valid in this matter.
If man is to be "gray" by nature, no moral concepts are applicable to him, including "grayness," and no such thing as morality is possible. But if man has free will, then the fact that ten (or ten million) men made the wrong choice, does not necessitate that the eleventh one will make it; it necessitates nothing -- and proves nothing -- in regard to any given individual.
There are, of course, complex issues in which both sides are right in some respects and wrong in others -- and it is here that the "package deal" of pronouncing both sides "gray" is least permissible. It is in such issues that the most rigorous precision of moral judgment is required to identify and evaluate the various aspects involved -- which can be done only by unscrambling the mixed elements of "black" and "white."
The basic error in all these various confusions is the same: it consists of forgetting that morality deals only with issues open to man's choice -- which means: forgetting the difference betwen "unable" and "unwilling." This permits people to translate the catch phrase "There are no blacks and whites" into: "Men are unable to be wholly good or wholly evil" -- which they accept in foggy resignation, without questioning the metaphysical contradictions it entails.
But not many people would accept it, if that catch phrase were translated into the actual meaning it is intended to smuggle into their minds: "Men are unwilling to be wholly good or wholly evil."
The first thing one would say to any advocate of such a proposition, is: "Speak for yourself, brother!" And that, in effect, is what he is actually doing; consciously or subconsciously, intentionally or inadvertently, when a man declares: "There are no blacks and whites," he is making a psychological confession, and what he means is: "I am unwillling to be wholly good -- and please don't regard me as wholly evil!"
Just as in epistemology, the cult of uncertainty is a revolt against reason -- so, in ethics, the cult of moral grayness is a revolt against moral values. Both are a revolt against the absolutism of reality.
Observe, in politics, that the term extremism has become a synonym of "evil," regardless of the content of the issue (the evil is not what you are extreme about, but that you are "extreme" -- i.e., consistent). Observe the phenomenon of the so-called neutralists in the United Nations: the "neutralists" are worse than merely neutral in the conflict between the United States and Soviet Russia; they are committed, on principle, to see no difference between the two sides, never to consider the merits of an issue, and always to seek a compromise, any compromise in any conflict ... .
Like a mixed economy, men of mixed premises may be called "gray"; but, in both cases, the mixture does not remain "gray" for long. "Gray," in this context, is merely a prelude to "black." There may be "gray" men, but there can be no "gray" moral principles. Morality is a code of black and white. When and if men attempt a compromise, it is obvious which side will necessarily lose and which will necessarily profit.
Such are the reasons why -- when one is asked: "Surely you don't think in terms of black-and-white, do you?" -- the proper answer (in essence, if not in form) should be: "You're damn right I do!"
-- The entire article became chapter 9 in the book, THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS by Ayn Rand, which is even more relevant today.