If you pay any attention to the national news, you know about the mass murder of 59 people last month by a lone gunman in Las Vegas. You also know about the terrorist in New York who killed eight people by driving a rented truck into a crowded bike path. In addition to the killings, within the past month, there has been a wave of news stories about several well-known Hollywood male executives and celebrities who have been accused of routinely abusing women and getting away with it.
There’s something that the killers and the abusive men have in common. Do you know what it is?
Prior to their criminal acts, these men’s hearts turned cold and black. Over time, the evil values that they embraced became embedded within their hearts.
With each of the incidents that were referenced above, the mainstream media followed the same path that they always follow. They spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what was going on in the minds of the men who had committed the crimes. As usual, they couldn’t figure out why the men had behaved the way they did.
While the media always consults with so-called experts to figure out what’s going on in the minds of the criminals, they should instead be focusing on what’s going on in the hearts of the criminals.
Behavioral experts have been trying to explain and understand human behavior for centuries. The oldest model for understanding human behavior dates back to at least the time of the Greeks and maybe even to the time of the Egyptians.
Back then, experts focused on three elements of human behavior. The first element of behavior was known as “cognitive,” which is related to the conscious, intellectual activity of the brain (thinking, reasoning, and remembering).
The second element of behavior was known as “affective,” which is related to the emotional and feeling attributes that each of us have.
The third element of behavior was known as “conative,” which is related to what we are naturally inclined to do depending on our God-given talents and abilities.
In a nutshell, cognitive behavior relates to thinking, affective behavior relates to emotions, and conative behavior relates to doing.
The three elements of human behavior that were identified during Greek times — cognitive, affective, and conative — are the same elements that experts use today to explain and analyze human behavior.
While the media always tends to focus on the cognitive element when attempting to figure out the behavior of criminals, they should instead be focusing on the affective element of behavior.
As a general rule, our lives are governed by our emotions, and our values form the basis of our emotions. Values are the foundation of the affective element of human behavior. Our values do not arise from what is going on in our minds or what we would otherwise be naturally inclined to do. They arise from what’s in our hearts.
While ideas come from our heads and actions come from our bodies, values come from our hearts.
If I asked you what your values are, your answer would come from your intellect. In other words, your answer would come from your mind and would be based on your knowledge, experience, understanding, and life experiences. You would tell me what you think your values are.
But what you tell me may be different from what your true values are. The reason for this is because our values arise from our hearts and it’s difficult to put them into words. Language in words comes from what’s in our heads, not from what’s in our hearts. The heart has no language.
If I really want to know what your values are, it doesn’t do me any good to ask you because the answer that you’re going to give me is from your head, not your heart. The only way I can tell what your values are is to observe how you live your life and what you’re willing to spend your time, energy, and resources on. Ultimately, your values are the most important thing to consider in determining the way you live your life.
All of your emotions are connected to your values. A simple way to find out what your true values are is to write down what you spend your time, energy, and resources on.
If you say you are a devout Catholic, but don’t attend Mass several times a week, set aside time each day for prayer, contribute generously to your church, and perform daily spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the values that emanate from your heart are not the values of a truly devout Catholic. While your head says that you are a devout Catholic, your heart says otherwise.
If you say that you really care about your health, but you’re 40 pounds overweight and you don’t exercise every day and eat the right foods, while your head says that you care about your health, your heart says otherwise.
So what did the mass murderer and terrorist have in common with the men who repeatedly abused innocent women. Instead of having love in their hearts, they had hatred and contempt toward others. Instead of having a desire to serve others, their primary desire was to serve themselves. Instead of possessing Christian values that were based on the love of God and neighbor, they possessed values that were based on pride, envy, lust, hatred, anger, rage, revenge, and cruelty.
Regardless of what the talking heads in the media say the reasons are for the evil behavior of criminals, they’ll never get it right until they’re willing to consider the values that are in the hearts of the individuals they are attempting to analyze. The bottom line is that violent criminals lack the Christian values that you and I embraced while we were growing up.
If we’re ever going to begin to understand why violent criminals behave the way they do, we must look at the religious and secular beliefs that they were exposed to while they were growing up. We are told that it is wrong — and we are made to feel guilty — if we look at the religious and secular values that a criminal was exposed to while he was growing up — values that he absorbed into his heart and adopted as his own.
Our nation was founded on Christian values. Our country is going to eventually break apart and descend into anarchy and chaos if we don’t start insisting that all American children be taught the same Christian values that the founders of our country subscribed to. We have to also be willing to insist that anyone who is allowed into our country must possess those same Christian values. Please pray that our country will have the grace and courage to move in that direction.