"MOVE" The Crazy Aunt Into The Attic', OK.
But Keep Her Goodies Coming: 
How Speeding And Other Micro-Violations 
Enrich Our Lives

another small, simple book by 

Dr. Greg O. Muller

Note to reader:  I write one-page, version books; it is My Art and love.  Note that this particular book you are reading is now in the early stages of development (version 1.2267).  Which means it is totally complete, published and ready for reading.  Yet, it will be further revised in the future (probably for the rest of my life) until it is perfect!  So, I invite you to stop by every once in a while to view and download the latest version.

FORWARD: Because Positive Deviance flows so naturally and unconsciously, it's easy to act as if a particular instance of Positive Deviance, like speeding on the highway, is an exception, a rare anomaly, just a blip, hardly worth mentioning. Telling ourselves this story is aided by the fact that we typically relegate Positive Deviance to the backstage of social life, paying strict civil innattention to it when we can; like the proverbial crazy aunt in the attic who we don't talk about. 

I honor the right, even obligation, we have to tell ourselves simplified stories, which de-emphasize or completely leave out certain awkward, inconvenient truths.  I call this doing the "MOVE", as in, "let's move the crazy aunt into the attic", and as in "you're doing the MOVE" and "you ought to do the MOVE" and "excellent MOVE, that". 

My Art seeks to encourage (not discourage) people in doing the MOVE. Because I believe when the MOVE is done in a positive way it helps us protect delicate and important aspects of our stories that are vital for maintaining and building hope, trust civility and other virtues.

Now, I certainly acknowledge this same protective instinct can lead us to tell our stories poorly, resulting in corresponding poor outcomes for us. But, again, My Art isn't focused on the negative, but instances when the MOVE is positive and beneficial.

My hope is that not only can we realize that we do the MOVE (we put the crazy aunt in attic when it is convenient), but that we may profit by doing it more.  Because the way I see it, metaphorically speaking, the crazy aunt already bakes us up some great cookies and pies, perhaps we can learn to talk her into cooking us up even more substantial things.

As with any Positive Deviance, my speaking frankly about the ways we use micro-violations to navigate life can generate anxiety in some people.  (We don't mind dancing around, doing the funky MOVE but most of us would prefer to keep the lights dimmed, if not off).  If this is you, please read this discussion here; it might help reduce your worries about the contents of this book.

In this book I explore and celebrate the many different ways we make tiny little positive micro-deviations from the law and institutional rules to make things go more efficient and easy, more socially smooth and kind, and more logical and profitable.

Speeding is certainly one of my, as it is most people's, favorite positive micro-violations of the law.  Speeding helps us to get places faster, it makes us feel good and more, as I discuss here (see especially the Foray section).

Micro-violation of copyright law allows us to educate and amuse ourselves without getting caught in the thicket of copyright law.  By using positive micro-violations of law in this realm we are free to record our favorite T.V. programs for later viewing, listen to the our music in public settings (like at our work desk) and sing the “happy birthday to you” song at work or any public setting (which surprisingly is a violation of law unless we have prior authorization from ASCAP).  The list goes on (and it probably will in upcoming versions of this book!).

Micro tax evasion allows people to buy little things in a neighboring state and not report it on your home state tax return.  It would not only be an accounting nightmare to keep track of all our out-of-state little purchases (gas, candy bars, trinkets, furniture and other small miscellaneous items) but expensive as well.  Same goes for buying things on the internet, grey-market bartering (such as baby sitting swaps, exchanging of goods and services with a neighbor or family member), etc.

Not reporting micro-violations is itself a micro-violation; and thank goodness for it!  Imagine what a crazy world this would be if we reported all the micro-violations of which we observe.  We would be constantly on the phone telling the police about our family members' and neighbors' micro-violations.  We'd even have to report police officers, who use speeding and other micro-violations themselves.  Understanding the positive nature and looking past the many instances of  micro-violations we observe, aid and abet, allows us to not only be thoughtful and kind people, but to better attend to things that matter most, such as reporting negative/serious violations of law (e.g. drunk driving).  (By the way, if anyone ever suggests they don't commit micro-violations you can remind them that not reporting a micro-violation of law is itself a positive micro-violation.)

Hiring practices, such as employing undocumented workers is a micro-violation of law that allows work to get done cheaply and efficiently in hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the U.S. and other nations.  Micro job discrimination (basing employment on age, gender, etc.) has a place throughout society---and in some instances is not only necessary but decidedly positive.

Micro-violations of work rules such as calling in sick when you are not, using work time and office computers (or phone) for personal email and web browsing; using minor office supplies for personal needs (e.g. ink and a note pad to take down a personal note)....many more.

[note to reader: here forward, I am currently revising this book to better emphasize the positive nature of our micro-violations of law.  Those which I list below are not currently in the brightest form I prefer (a form that celebrates micro-violations when they are used positively), but soon will be]

Ever engage in (or fail to report) harassment...of any kind?  Of course!  Ever engage in or fail to report sexual or other harassment at school or work of any degree?  A wide range of very micro behaviors fall into this legal class of behaviors called harassment and sexual harassment---things that are often unreported…even private conversations at work are implicated by these laws…just go ask your boss).

Ever run any kind of business without a license? Ever have a lemonade stand or sell stuff on ebay without a business license and/or a full accounting of taxes on your profits from it.

Ever not report rape? Ever know of this kind of scenario: Margie is 16 and got pregnant by Johnny who is over 18 years old (statutory rape)---and not report it to the police?.

Ever not report illegal entry? Ever been aware that there are people in your employ, in your community, in a friend or associates employ who are illegal immigrants and not report them to law enforcement?.

Ever not report illegal drinking? Ever been aware of underage drinking (beer parties) and not let the police know about it?

Ever scan a photo? Ever scan a family portrait taken (and copyrighted) by a professional photographer?

Ever observe and not report possible abuse? Study child-related laws and you will soon discover that your and/or other parents you observe are letting kids do things that a persnickety social worker or judge would deem unsafe and punishable (e.g. kids riding in the back of a pickup or working on a roof, illegal forms of discipline such as spanking in ways law enforceres would deem technically illegal).

Ever use more water than legal? Ever water 1 minute over the legally specified watering time?  If you have water shares, have you ever used 1 ounce beyond your legal allotment?

Ever used fireworks illegally? Ever bought fireworks that were illegal or set them off at the wrong time or place?

And this list will go on and on.


Big/Small. Some of these violations seem like very small things.  To me they are.  This is because I have chosen to focus on only micro-violations.  In doing so I honor the balanced approach we in society follow:  We distinguish between small and big violations of the law.  For example, if you are music downloader who tapes a few songs on the radio (micro-violation) you are different than someone who downloads 100,000 songs and sells them or make them widely available on the internet without permission?  Another example, we recognize a difference between a kid's lemonade stand and an adult's taco stand. There's a difference; so it is treated by us and by the law.

My Art. I readily acknowledge that all the micro law-violations I listed above are not always used for good purposes by every person.  As an artist I make a distinction and a choice, and here is my rule: when they are used for good purposes it is POSITIVE Deviance, the focus of My Art.  But when people use micro-violations poorly it is NEGATIVE deviance, and not the focus of My Art.

Room. These positive micro-violations listed above reflect an important function of Positive Deviance.  It allows each of us wiggle room, it allows us to find that personal sweet-spot, which is essential for living the good life.  When it is POSITIVE Deviance then speeding and all the other instances of micro-violations are not symbols of reckless disregard for civility and the law (most people who do these micro-violations would in fact legitimately claim they are law abiding citizens) but symbols of what it means to rightly follow the "spirit-of-the-law", an important balance and buffer against strict and unnaturally cramped "letter-of-the-law" living.  This balance and buffer is especially important in a modern industrialized society like ours where no rational adult can obey the speed limit (or other laws) with 100% absolute fidelity.  Nor would it be advisable to try.  Many of these instances of Positive Deviance law violations allow people to navigate life more effectively and morally than they otherwise would (see the example of Jesus, Mark 2:23-28).
Open. As I've pointed out before the understanding that "everybody does it" (all are sinners) allows me to care less  about the knee-jerk judgments of others with regard to my personal choices, but at the same time to not be fully closed and even to be more open to useful, thoughtful input from others (e.g. Ok, You speed I speed we all speed...now let's talk about how we can speed quicker and more safely). 
Symbol. Finally, documenting these micro-violations helps me spiritually by reminding me to be humble and to remember we all need grace in our lives, even a Savior.  There is no way that I or others can keep every jot and tittle of civil law and man-made rules.  How much harder then is it for us to keep the spiritual laws that Christ declared in the Bible?  It seems to me it would be a whole lot easier for us to obey the posted speed limit and refrain from singing happy birthday at work than to 'love one’s enemy and do good to those who spitefully use you'.

Hammer. I believe the law (man’s and God’s) is meant to break our hearts.  Only with a broken heart (when we are beggars) and a contrite spirit (when we are prodigal sons)…only when moral jeopardy is inescapably out of the grasp of our puny hands will we reach out to be saved by the powerful hands of Jesus.

Intent. Of course the thing that matters, in the end (judgment day), is not what we do, but why we do what we do (the intent of our heart).

The End (for now).