Incrementalism

Someone I know coined this word (as far as I know).  What he means by it is the concept of change occurring gradually—sadly, often one little bad choice at a time, changing the life for the worse in the long run.

I know what it means for things to happen in increments, but today I learned it’s “something added or gained; addition; increase.”  When it comes to sin, that does compute.  This time, a choice seems “okay.”  Next time that choice remains okay and the additional thing.  After that, yet another is added.  Before you know it, you’re waking up in an empty stadium 2,000 miles from home, and your wife is wondering why there’s a big blank spot where the TV used to be.  [True Story!]

Years ago I heard someone talk about the “frog in the water.”  ‘Same idea.  “…if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.” [wiki]

There’s been plenty of time for this to flesh itself out in my own life.  When I’ve done poorly, in almost every case it’s been an incremental process: alcohol, impurity, weight, countenance, bitterness.  It’s not pretty, but I’m tellin’ ya:  none of these issues just suddenly happened: it was incrementalism.  If I’d seen the train coming, I’d have gotten off the tracks.

I suppose incrementalism could be positive:  Hey! Toastmasters did wonders for me!  ….And it may have taken me 20 years, but all the walls in my house have color!

But anyway.  Thanks to my brother for teaching us that word:  I do hope that knowing the danger of that slowly-boiling water will save us all  lot of heartache.

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This entry was posted in Mind Matters, Self-confrontation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Incrementalism

  1. Sapphira says:

    What a great analogy (the frog)!

  2. Know the frog story VERY well — I use it in my job talking with teens all the time. They laugh at my stuffed Freddy the frog I tote around, but they all get the story!

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