(Originally published by OldAuditor on November 30, 2009)
We are raised, if we are lucky, by parents who instill in us a moral code that increases our survival in the greater area in which we live. This moral code consists of rules of conduct with standards of right and wrong behavior for the group of which we are a part.
The simplest definition of an overt or overt act is a transgression against a moral code which we have agreed to.
In some communities this is better known as a sin or a crime.
We may think our particular moral code is universal when we are very little and isolated, but we soon become disabused of that idea when we start meeting others from differing backgrounds. We learn to our surprise and horror that our ideas of morality and rightness and so forth are not held by other families.
In a closed community like a remote village, a primitive society, or in Scientology there may be a lot of enforced agreement on a moral code.
In a more cosmopolitan environment, there is a wide range of opinion on what constitutes a “proper” moral code. In the latter community there is therefore a wide range of opinions on what constitutes a destructive (overt) act.
Can you get the idea that an overt is not necessarily what an authority figure thinks it is?
Can you also get the idea that your personal understanding of overts may change as you become more aware?
Both of the above statements are true, so let me provide you with more complete definitions of an overt act for you to examine. All of these definitions are correct according to your viewpoint:
Overt: a harmful act or a transgression against the moral code of a group. When a person does something that is contrary to the moral code he has agreed to, or when he omits to do something that he should have done per that moral code, he has committed an overt. An overt violates what was agreed upon. An overt can be intentional or unintentional.
Overt: A sin or a crime.
Overt: An overt can also be defined as a mis-estimation of effort. You intended to do something and you overdid it or you did not do enough of it. From a technical standpoint, these could be seen as destructive acts. In a group with incredibly strict rules of behavior, any deviation from what was expected can be considered an overt.
Regardless of what definition you wish to use, there is one universal fact that occurs after a person has knowingly committed an overt. The person has something to hide and he begins to withdraw from the group he used to agree with. He has something he needs to withhold. We consider that he has a withhold. This will be the subject of another post as it deserves a complete discussion.
Now I am going to state something that is absolutely true for me and you will have to work out whether it applies to you.
An overt is what you consider to be an overt and it may not be anything you were trained to avoid.
As I became more aware through auditing and training, sometimes I became aware that some of my actions were causing harm in ways I did not intend. Sometimes, the only thing I noticed was that I wasn’t feeling so great about life even though it seemed that I was not doing anything different than before.
On one occasion I called the Flag Land Base and got in comm with a wonderful Ethics Officer who listened to my tale of woe most politely. When I finally ran down and asked what condition I should apply, she chuckled and said in a cheerfully hearty voice, “You have OVERTS!”
I cracked up because it seemed like a correct indication, even though I had not the slightest idea what she was referring to. She told me to do an O/W writeup* and to take it to my local org to get a meter check on it.
I read the references on O/W write ups and discovered that one can get an enormous amount of case gain by writing up the overts one has committed and the things that are being withheld about those overts.
Later I would discover that an increase in case gain would bring more responsibility and that would pop new overts into view.
It was startling at first to have an auditor take up some reading item which I could have sworn I had no attention on. My initial reaction was, “That’s an overt? You have got to be kidding!”
When there was something to run and it wasn’t a read on protest, I would end up with a greater understanding of the changes that were taking place in my willingness to take responsibility.
Keeping these overts cleaned up through auditing and O/W write ups gave me an unshakeable certainty that the tech worked and made me almost bullet proof when I was accused of overts by someone with an agenda.
Instead of flinching, I would ask what policy they were working on and if I didn’t get an on-policy answer, I would just let it pass as I could see that we were working off different moral codes.
The bottom line for me is that understanding and cleaning up overts when they occur causes major case gain.
* O/W writeup: Writing up one’s overts and withholds to a good result and getting meter checked on it. There are many references describing how to do this. This can be done in a church or in the field.