Get Adobe Flash player

What Happens In Vegas, Stays in Vegas – Really? 2012-10-26

“When in Rome, do as the Romans…”
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…”
“I double-dog dare you…”
“I bet you are afraid to….”
“Everyone is doing it…”
“Clear your mind of all thought…”
How many ways can you say, “You need to turn off your intellect because I’m about to convince you to do something you wouldn’t do if you actually took the time to think about what you are doing and the possible consequences of your actions?” Do we have to check our intelligent, our integrity and our self-respect at the door when we are with friends?

So often we feel a need to step out of character in crowds. We live in the country and often see wonderful family dogs turn killer when they run with other dogs at night. We are reported to be more intelligent than dogs, but still that pack mentality seems to take over when our adrenaline is pumping and our system is stimulated by the thrill of the moment. I used to say that when my children had a friend over, they went from two brains to half a brain. The more friends, the more their brain was divided. Maybe we need a designated thinker at parties, like we have a designated driver. That would certainly eliminate the aftermath, but would no doubt be considered a party damper and the designated thinker would probably find themselves locked in a closet.

If we are to adhere to the opening quotes, you can totally justify an eye for an eye. Is it ok to discriminate against people who discriminate against you? Is it ok to have an extramarital affair or do drugs because everyone is doing it? Is it ok to indiscriminately kill in countries who kill indiscriminately? Is it ok to disrespect people who disrespect you? Who decides when it’s ok to “Do in Rome” and when it’s not? Where does it end?

Public Display of many behaviors so often falls into the category of Shakespeare’s quote, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Who are we trying to convince? Ourselves? When it’s who we really are, we don’t have to convince anyone else. What happens at home feels much more real, when it is not done for show or to try to convince anyone.

Sometimes we almost seem to have adopted the Islamic “Insha’Allah,” which loosely translate means “God willing, but in some circumstances seems to be used in the context of “it’s only bad if I get caught.” Of course, the more public your life, the more notable the consequences of getting caught. Why do we let the media decides when a particular behavior is acceptable and unacceptable? The media often appears to randomly mete out judgment: it is ok for this person to have an affair or meltdown, but not this one, or maybe it’s just wrong if you get caught or get caught on a day when there’s nothing else more newsworthy.

What is so wrong about establishing who you are and adhering to it regardless of where you are and who you are with? We were at a family gathering and decided to go out to eat. One family member is vegetarian, when you are in a group of confirmed carnivores, this is a problem. “You’ll go along with the crowd and cooperate, right?” Of course, she is, by nature quite cooperative, until advised they were ordered her a pork tenderloin. If she were not vegetarian, I doubt her choice of a salad over a pork tenderloin would have even been noted. Why is that something to be ridiculed? I applaud her for adhering to her principles. Have you also observed that it’s the very people who require conformity that are the first to broadcast fall?

As we recently learned, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas… or Rome… or anywhere else for that matter. H. Jackson Brown said, “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” In this age of instant communication, you truly never know who’s watching. Our decision at this moment often gives others the courage or the excuse to follow suit. That is the moment leaders are born… when one stands, instead of following the pack, it gives others courage to stand.

What would it look like for a group to get together in the middle of the night and perform random acts of kindness instead of random acts of mischief? Wouldn’t it be heartwarming for an elderly couple to return home from the hospital to find their yard mowed and the outside of the house put in order? What would it look like for a group to rise to the highest common denominator instead of sinking to the lowest? In many societies the elderly are treated with respect, people are revered for their intellect and accomplishments… That is the culture I wish to learn from and the kind of behavior I wish to emulate when I’m in Rome, Vegas or wherever my journey leads.