Robots are Rational

After several pointless provocations by your teenager, you finally lose patience and threaten, “If you do that one more time, you’ll be grounded for two weeks!” And she goes and does it again! Why did she do something so silly? It only hurt her.

In 1986 an obscure group of environmental extremists in London distributed a pamphlet filled with melodramatic allegations against McDonalds. Though only a few hundred copies were released, the fast-food company sued a pair of the penniless protestors. After eleven years of litigation, McDonalds was awarded forty-thousand pounds, a small fraction of the four million dollars McDonalds spent on legal fees and which they never even collected. What they did collect, however, was a decade’s worth of destructive publicity and wide-spread attention for the slanderous pamphlet. Why did McDonalds do something so petty? It only hurt them.

“Go on!” urged his friend, “Jump across to the other balcony.” The twenty-one year old male tried, missed and plummeted four floors down. Why did he do something so foolish? It only hurt him.

After assassinating corrupt Visigoth King Witiza, Roderic viciously dispossessed his heirs and followers. They crossed the Straits of Gibraltar inviting Sheik Tariq bin Ziyad to invade Spain which he did in 711. Roderic’s impolitic folly and the revenge by Witiza’s people caused terrible times for Spain over several hundred years. Why do leaders engage in such recklessness? They end up hurting their countries.

During a dispute over a $100 worth of fence repair the man yelled at his neighbor, “I’ll see you in court!” Why did he threaten something so ill-advised? It only hurt him.

They all acted while in the grip of emotional intensity.

Consider ancient Jewish wisdom’s comparison of Joseph and Esther’s lives. Both of them, while isolated from their families, rose to positions of prominence and power and saved their people. Both were described as very good looking and both were descended from Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel.

The four critical moments that transformed each of their lives were punctuated by decisions made under emotional intensity.


(i) His brothers hated him. (Genesis 37:4-5)

(ii) Potiphar’s wife felt scorned by him. (Genesis 39:13-15)

(iii) Potiphar felt anger toward him. (Genesis 39:19)

(iv) Pharaoh blew up at the butler and baker. (Genesis 40:2)


(i) King Ahashverush was angry at Vashti (Esther 1:12)

(ii) Bigtan and Teresh became angry at the king. (Esther 2:21)

(iii) Haman became enraged at Mordechai. (Esther 3:5)

(iv) King Ahashverush was furious at Haman. (Esther 7:7)

Neither Joseph nor Esther ever acted themselves under the grip of intense emotions but others in their lives did so. God used those moments of instability to change the course of history. If you ever see an opponent of yours act while under the influence of strong emotions, be happy. You may be close to deliverance.

Have you ever been motivated by emotional intensities like hate, pride, obstinacy, arrogance, or anger to do something really silly that only ended up hurting you? Of course you have; who hasn’t?

One of the messages of Purim, the Feast of Esther which begins tonight, is that while we all are subject to emotions, acting upon those emotions is always a bad idea.

Biblical Persia is, of course, modern day Iran. I heard a TV news anchor comment on Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s promise to launch a nuclear attack on Israel. She said, “It’s just an empty threat; why would any head of state do something so irrational?” I ask: Why would any news organization keep on staff someone with so little understanding of how the world really works? Humans are capable of doing really irrational things while in the grip of their emotions. We can work on building our characters so we don’t fall into this trap.

Emotions often lead people to spend money they don’t have. My good friend, Dave Ramsey, is a master at helping people eliminate debt. Increasing your income is one vital step you can take. My Income Abundance Set teaches you effective strategies which will boost your earnings. In honor of my appearance on Dave’s radio show today, the three part set is on sale right now.

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