"The halo effect"

It's an interesting phenomenon. Police cars, especially those equipped with radar, seem to be at the center of a circle of good drivers. Police officers sometimes refer to this strange consequence as "the halo effect." But beyond outer edges of the circle—when the officer is no longer in view—good driving habits too often fade.

Do we ever let people and events create a halo effect—one that governs our conduct as we move through life? Do we act more admirably when the boss is around, or on that initial date when we want to make a good first impression, or when newcomers are in church and we want them to return? Not that there is something wrong with doing our best on certain occasions. But when such special circumstances are themselves the producers of a halo effect, this encouragement to do right doesn't really provide us with a lasting influence of good. When the person or the time or the event has slipped by, the argument is that it's easy for us to slip up—to do things on a mediocre basis, or worse.

Whenever we look to some facet of materiality to hold us on a right course, we run the risk of edging outside the relatively restricted circle of good drawn by human influences. If we trust a person, for instance, always to hold us on the straight and narrow, we may be disappointed. If we expect a rule, in and of itself, to sustain our moral clarity of thought, we may find ourselves at times entering certain areas of good but other times bumping its outlines and swerving around the outer edges.

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BIBLE NOTES Pullout Section
April 28, 1980

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