Thursday, March 4, 2010

Temperament Observed-

The various classification systems relating to temperament are often useful, but hardly exhausting. Most of them have four or five major classifications, and subclasses established by combining two major classes into dominant/secondary pairs. These serve well enough, but are not exclusive as categories that may be observed.

Two types of people I have observed in my career in corrections have been the Regulators and the Enforcers. We tend to have an abundance of both in the law enforcement field, probably due to the many opportunities to practice these proclivities.

Regulators like to regulate, control, or manage things. I suspect they find their way into law making careers, or in another career field find their way into the regulatory branch. They really like rules, and at least from my own perspective they like rules for the sake of having rules. Considering the huge number of laws on the books in the State of California, there is no end to this need to regulate.

In our particular jail setting we have behavior management rules to aid the inmates in knowing how to behave, and to provide a reference for those charged with enforcing the rules. Time and time again I saw an augmented rule created by an officer eventually being enforced as if it were a sanctioned rule, even though that rule was never formally adopted.

Regulators do not like to give up any rules once they have been established and adopted. Over time conditions change and the purpose of a rule or set of rules no longer applies to the new state of things, yet it is nearly impossible to bring about a review of rules, much less practical changes. Rather than being focused on the purpose of our rules our temperamental Regulators simply want to hang onto those rules as rules.

Sometimes the perspective is as if dealing with a sacred thing, these little jail rules. I am sure that readers can find other examples from their own experiences.

Then there are temperamental Enforcers. There is some kind of deep and emotional satisfaction experienced by an Enforcer when he can apply a rule and set up a violator for punishment. I will grant that rules and the enforcement of rules are necessary for maintaining the order in a social order. The Enforcer goes beyond that. Each act of enforcement becomes a personal victory. Engaging such emotion can unbalance the system.

Most temperamental Enforcers love having lots of rules, and enforce even the least reasonable rules with a tremendous zeal. For them the purpose of the rule was less relevant than the existence of the rule and the need being met by enforcing that rule. Many Enforcers working in the jail would establish personal "rules" to serve over the course of their own shifts, and too many of those rules became so entrenched as to be enforced as if sanctioned.

On a larger scale, our State of California has a phenomenal number of laws. Again, Regulators and Enforcers naturally gravitate to positions of power within our social order, and the zeal for acting out their predilections can at least on occasion create laws that are truly counter-productive.

My thoughts tend to go from this point in a lot of different directions. Many examples come to mind, but most are more properly a new thread to the discussion. This hound finds many tempting cotton tails vanishing into the scrub, and so I think that it is time to move toward a conclusion.

 Perhaps the one conclusion I can take from these ruminations is to examine my attitudes and actions to determine if I am acting from a reasoned position, or if I am simply reacting from my own temperament. Such reaction from temperament might not always be bad, but a failure to examine both the temperament and the action for reasonableness and applicability would leave me incomplete and unbalanced.

This conclusion certainly reveals my presupposition that reason has a higher value in choosing actions than instinct or temperament. That, I think, should be approached in another blog.

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