Understanding people tends to be a lot more easier when you understand, or at least acknowledge, that humans follow the avoidance of pain and the embrace of pleasure.  The problem comes in that sometimes what is painful to us is pleasurable to another.

Case in point, a killer whale is not rewarded with fish when a stunt is performed before a crowd.  In fact the giving of the fish is a punishment.  The killer whale once roamed the high seas and the reward now is change in its environment.  Since its environment is essentially a huge bathtub, the giving of fish adds to the boredom of the tank.  However seeing someone clapping their hands, throwing a ball or taking a huge toothbrush and splashing the water is different — it is a change in the environment.

Recently the opening of relations to Cuba presents a great example.  I hear it said that the Cuban people have had enough.  So ending the American embargo can now be viewed as a positive step to the long suffering Cuban people.  The Cuban people never were the focus of the embargo.  The embargo was established to help destabilize a cruel and unjust government.  The government killed thousands of innocent people, clamped down on free speech and demoralized a culture.

Apparently the Cuban people feared, or possibly did not know, what freedom meant.  Regardless US foreign policy violated a cardinal psychological tenet and rewarded a corrupt government after 50 years.  One might argue that we sent a message that there is a statute of limitations on dictatorships.  Or one might find another reward.  Like the people of Cuba will be thankful for our understanding.  The reward is that if you do nothing to fight for your freedom we will reward you (maybe that’s a test run for what’s happening in the US)

My point is that when you violate psychological rules you will pay a price.  Unless there is a reward that escapes our vision.  But that would mean there is something less transparent.

Like the mother who accepts abuse from a husband yet still loves her son and stays in the marriage for the child’s sake.  But years later when the son abuses, the  earlier reward is not seen.

Sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind.

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