On the day my neighbors move out, I hang out with the kids while they pack their car. At the end of their final check through the house, they turn off the air conditioner.
A few days later, a handyman paints the kitchen cabinets and turns it back on. This makes sense, it is 86 degrees outside.
The next day I still hear the air conditioner running. Since I know there is no one in the house, I get triggered by thoughts around the waste of energy. But, maybe I am mistaken and there are folks back working in the house today.
Three days later, I still haven’t seen any cars on the driveway or heard any sounds in the house. I get upset enough to go over and see why the AC is running 18 hours a day while no one benefits from it.
I ring the doorbell. No one answers. I walk around the house. No one there either.
I do see a leaking hose and washed-off paint on the lawn. And a completely open kitchen window. A freezing air greets me as I walk toward it.
Thoughts about global warming and polar bears losing their habitat race through my mind.
I owe it to them to do something about it. I climb through the window and turn off the air conditioner. It was set at 68 Fahrenheit. No wonder it’s running day and night.
I only think of the Texas Castle Doctrine when I climb back outside. It’s a law that allows Texan homeowners to use deadly force to protect themselves against an armed intruder. I think of myself as an innocent, albeit somewhat weird, lady, but how would they know I wasn’t carrying a weapon?
It’s something I never, ever was afraid of in the Netherlands. Not that climbing through windows was my habit, but walking around the house or peeking inside when looking for your neighbor is quite normal over there.
And I certainly was never afraid of someone pointing a shotgun at me.
That’s because the Netherlands is primarily a dignity culture while Texas is mainly an honor culture.
This is what Ryan Brown, a Social Psychologist and Managing Director for Measurement at Rice University writes on his website about honor cultures:
“Social scientists say that a society exhibits an honor culture when the defense of reputation plays an incredibly important role in social life (in more technical terms, reputation maintenance is a “central organizing theme” in that society). For men in a typical honor culture, the kind of reputation that is highly prized is a reputation for toughness and bravery. Men in honor cultures want to be known as someone that others ought not to take lightly.
Because of the importance placed on reputation maintenance, honor cultures allow or even expect people to defend themselves aggressively when threatened, even if the threat is not a physical one. So, when men in an honor culture are insulted or their honorable qualities are called into question, they often go to extremes to prove their mettle.”
Honor culture impacts how vulnerable populations are treated. People who can’t protect life and stock might be loved, but they are not respected as members of society. Often suicide rates among older men are high, mental health issues are not addressed, and sharing your feelings and needs is seen as a weakness.
In such a culture, it can be hard to get support for your organization’s mission around dignity for those at the bottom of societies’ hierarchy, racial justice, and ecological concern.
Schedule a coaching package with me, if you want to explore how to navigate the influence of culture on your impact.
You get 10% off if you enter “honor2021” in the coupon field. So that is $810, instead of $900.
The coupon expires on Juneteenth 19, 2021.
Read more about honor culture.
Read more about Texas “Stand your Ground-Castle Doctrine”.