Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Respect Gambit Part 3: Remedies

     Yesterday’s piece caused longtime reader furball to comment, in part, as follows:

     Fran, you're a little like Victor Davis Hanson. You write really well and describe stuff. But the folks who read you want to know what to do next.
     I know you don't want to be "that guy" who says, "take up arms," or "assemble at your state capitol."
     But this last post of yours goes around and around that idea with such horrendous circumlocutions! Come on.

     I’m sure the comparison to VDH was meant to be flattering. Just about anyone else in my position would routinely tug his forelock and issue the expected I-am-not-worthy declaration. I’m not going to do that. For one thing, that ain’t my style. For another, I don’t write in “horrendous circumlocutions.”

     In particular, I don’t belabor the obvious.

     I’m almost genetically averse to telling people what they “should” do. A great part of my father’s legacy to me was the leave-me-the-hell-alone attitude and mindset that’s served me well these past sixty-five years. He implemented it by responding to exhortations that he “should” do something by:

  1. Buying the other guy a drink,
  2. Looking at his watch (which seldom worked),
  3. And saying “Whoops! I gotta go.”

     As I seldom drink in public, I can’t use his approach, so mostly I just ignore people with well meant advice to offer.

     I suppose it won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t attend public gatherings and never open my door to a stranger with a sheaf of periodicals in his hand.

     Yet here I am, a prolific Web writer and fiction monger, venting all sorts of crankery for general consumption as if I actually knew something others don’t know! Paradoxical? Perhaps. But the Web is a bit like a huge open-air mall. Visitors are welcome to visit any of its establishments, including the many gin mills at which bloviators such as I hold forth interminably on any and every subject under the sun. But no one is compelled to sample my wares. You like ‘em? Great. I serve it up daily, or just about. Thanks for your patronage and feel free to return at your leisure. You don’t? There are a lot of other places to drink, so be on your way, and don’t let them thar swingin’ doors hit you in the ass.

     Crude? Perhaps. But I’m straining to avoid circumlocution, horrendous or otherwise.

     “If what you’re doing doesn’t work, do something else!” – Michael Emerling

     Some of the most penetrating of all wisdoms are “too obvious” for many people. I first encountered the above statement from persuasion expert Michael Emerling on his audio series “The Essence of Political Persuasion,” which I believe is still available from the Advocates for Self-Government. Upon the instant I first heard it, thirty years ago, I remarked “Of course!” internally. Yet I, like so many other persons on the pro-freedom Right, had violated that stricture innumerable times...and I’m sure I’ve violated it many times more since then.

     Another penetrating wisdom, which reached me via an old friend, is that people will “marry” their own conclusions far more readily than they will yours. You can argue for your point with all the skill of a Demosthenes. You can marshal innumerable facts in support of your position. You can defend it with irrefutable logic of crystalline brilliance. But if the other guy doesn’t want to accept it, he won’t do so, at times even at great cost to himself.

     On the other hand, if you can induce him to make it his conclusion...

     Am I being just too “obvious” here?

     I have a huge number of things to do today – I’ll be hosting a writers’ circle / critique group this afternoon – and at any rate, I’d rather not beat this point any bloodier than I already have.

     I’m not here to tell anyone what to do. I’m a thinker and an analyst. I study what I see, and attempt to trace the causal threads that run through it. I present those threads to my Gentle Readers. The rest is up to them – up to you.

     I’m also not a collectivist. I don’t believe in single, “rifle shot” approaches to the remediation of social and political maladies. I prefer to see people experiment with a range of approaches. Over time, success will elevate some and failure will disqualify others. Note how consistent this is with the paragraph above it.

     So if you want change to current circumstances:

  • Think about what you’d like;
  • Review the approaches to it others have taken;
  • Apply your reasoning powers and whatever creativity you possess to the subject;
  • And act.

     Don’t wait for others – no, not even for your humble Curmudgeon Emeritus! – to tell you what you “should” do. Choose your own approaches. Compare your results with those others have achieved. Draw any further conclusions your experiences may warrant, then rinse and repeat.

     Aren’t there enough people telling you what you “should” do – and aren’t the lot of them wearying at best and utterly vile at worst?

     Americans shouldn’t tolerate that sort of thing.

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

I've come to a conclusion about persuasion.

Most people SAY they want to hear your arguments.

What they REALLY respond to is an emotional pitch.

Don't overestimate evolution - at heart, we're easily-led, status-seeking, emotionally-driven apes.