Love Doesn’t Set Targets


imageOne of the delusions of the STEM-only mindset is that everything must have a target, measurable goal or quantifiable number.

It is the attraction of simple binary opposition ( that gets seduced by this language and ideology. The silly question ‘how many deaths do you want today?’ is rarely called out as a silly binary question. People rarely call out the silly assumption in the question but rather get trapped into the silly answer. This is how even the Prime Minister of Australia gets dragged in to this endless nonsense of zero ( see: PM want suicide rate reduced to zero )

Of course there cannot be zero harm, zero suicide or perfection in a random world comprised of fallible people. How strange that we would talk such ideological nonsense to people but would never do it to our own children. All parents know that setting perfectionist goals for children is a disaster. Parents know that talking language of no mistakes and no error sets up children for failure and all the associated psychological problems associated with the by-products of speaking perfectionist language.

All parents know that:

· Love doesn’t set targets

· Care doesn’t set goals

· Hope doesn’t trust in fairy tales

Just imagine the school teacher who ends the day and only sends the children home who made no mistakes that day? Just imagine what happens to the character of children who hear that there is no other target than perfection in their classroom? Or in the school yard. Just imagine if you set targets and goals in your relationships? There is no love, care or hope in zero.

Of course any teacher knows that all assessment is subjectively loaded. It is easy to reach perfection when the assessment criteria is manipulated to meet the goal. This is how goal directed learning works, it creates its own delusions. So in 10 years time when the target of zero suicide is not met, will we declare the target was wrong or perhaps find a hundred reasons why the target wasn’t reached. And let me assure you, there will never be zero suicide. Such a target and language is evidence that one has no clue about suicide as a ‘wicked problem’. I wonder, is the Prime Minister going to throw some funding at an anti-fallibility campaign? Strange because his church would be the first to confirm such a doctrine. When the PM makes mistakes he will be the first to claim understanding and seek compassion because of his fallibility. Hmmm, but those caught in mental health, suicide ideation, poverty, addictions and social distress must not be fallible (

All a goal of zero can ever do, is alienate people from seeking help. We see exactly the same silly binary debate over the pill testing and drug injecting room issue ( ). How strange that those who want to save lives chose an ideology that puts people more at risk ( ). This is the outcome of zero.

This delusion about targets and goals reminds me of the Parable of the Animal Assessment, it goes like this:

Parable of the Animal Assessment

Once upon a time the animals in the kingdom decided to find out who was the greatest leader in the land. They had a meeting to decide upon a criteria for measuring greatness and came up with swimming, running, climbing and flying as the factors for measurement.

The lion tried to begin and did quite well at running, climbing and some low level jump-flying but had to drop out of the competition because swimming was a problem.

The lion wished that hunting and roaring had been one of the measurement factors, but was still pleased because most people thought lions were the greatest in the kingdom anyway.

The elephant was quite good at swimming and could even run well, but climbing and flying were out of the question. Elephant tried to climb once but broke off all the branches and got leaves jammed up his trunk, so disappointed he withdrew.

Possum was very interested in the competition and performed very well at flying and running and was the best in climbing. Things looked promising until she drowned trying to swim. The fruit bat was good at climbing and came top in flying, even at night was no obstacle. The bat could run in a funny way but just sank in the water. Poor old bat wanted hanging upside down as a criteria for measurement.

After all had eventuated the greatest animal in the kingdom ended up being the duck. In swimming duck did quite well and even though she was not as fast as snake managed to get up onto the land quickly. Duck was able to fly better than the snake who had tried dropping out of trees and paid the consequences. Duck went well at running but damaged her web feet in the process which restricted her ability to climb about trees. However, in all she was able to complete all assessment criteria and was determined greatest in the kingdom.

The male echidnas and wombats were angry because digging was not considered a measurement criteria and so they formed their own rival competition so they could design much better in the results. They argued that the criteria for measurement was ‘rigged’ and that making a female duck a great leader was an insult.

When you set silly goals and targets you get silly outcomes.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

One Reply to “Love Doesn’t Set Targets”

  1. The recent decision in a French court, which rejected compensation claims following the MS Estonia disaster that claimed the lives of 852 people way back in 1994 may have some implications regarding gross negligence, industrial manslaughter and the burden of proof.

    After almost 25 years the claimants were unable to prove “intentional fault”. The case was heard in a French court because it was viewed as having the most modern law regarding claims for damages.

    In PNG charges against the owner and captain of the Rabaul Queen, which capsized and sank off the coast of New Britain in 2012 with the deaths of almost 200 passengers were eventually dropped:

    Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

    O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
    And hushed their raging at Thy word,
    Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
    And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

    Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
    Upon the chaos dark and rude,
    And bid its angry tumult cease,
    And give, for wild confusion, peace;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

    O Trinity of love and power!
    Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
    From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
    Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
    Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
    Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

    Zero harm indeed.

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