At first glance, the deep desire to protect one’s social standing may not seem like much of an obstacle to integrity, but that is a dangerous assumption. This single issue, manifest in multiple ways, is arguably the source of most, if not all, of the destructive prejudices and contemptuous or apathetic attitudes that haunt law enforcement organizations today. One humorous, folkloric way of describing this phenomenon is affectionately known as the “inverted asshole theory”:
What this vernacular looks like in more professional language has been systematically captured by the Arbinger Institute in The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict.† Arbinger calls this form of self-betrayal the “Better-Than Box.” The self-betrayer views herself as superior, important, virtuous, and right. She views others as inferior, incapable, irrelevant, false, and
wrong. As a result, she has feelings of impatience, disdain, and indifference and views the world as competitive, troubled, and needy of her. Interestingly, in the New Testament people with this persona were typified by a sect known as the Pharisees. They saw themselves as morally superior (Luke 18:9-12) and despised Jesus because He had regard for the morally inferior (Luke 15:1-2). One can read Matthew 23 for Jesus’ commentary on the Pharisees.