… Yeah, that’s a line from a song. Bonus points if you know it.
Sorry I’m a little late with this post, but I’m on something like a vacation and it can’t be helped.
Been a while since I posted any thoughts on civility in this country. What follows is the outgrowth of a rather spittle-flecked rant I posted on social media yesterday.
(Some other time I’ll ponder the wisdom of ranting on a social media site, but that will have to wait until later.)
This might require some background. So, here goes…
Often, especially in social media circles, people will use the medium to advocate for one cause or another. I myself have done it, albeit in my own peculiar manner.
This rant was not about advocacy. Rather it was about the way in which advocacy has been taking shape, as of late. It has become a recent fashion to try to guilt people, or shame people into action, or even into thinking or feeling a way different from the way they actually feel.
(This happens in regular conversation as well…)
And it is seriously fucking stupid.
Here’s the thing, posting pictures of cancer patients, or abused animals, or flag draped coffins is not going to persuade people whose minds are otherwise geared towards the subject matter. At best it will induce some modicum of guilt or shame without any guarantee that this guilt or shame will motivate people to action.
Take a second to look around at the world in which we live and tell me if you think guilt and/or shame seem to be doing very good jobs of motivating people.
Go ahead. I’ll wait…
…Yeah, I don’t see it either.
So what we have is someone who feels very strongly about a subject, who also wants you and me to feel as strongly about it, and quite possibly change our behavior/ thoughts/ feelings on said subject.
The object, essentially, is to persuade.
Take a second to look around the world inside of you and tell me if guilt and/or shame feel terribly persuasive when coming from an outside source…
…Nope, me neither.
And yet, these passive/ aggressive displays continue.
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…
…Well, you know how that goes.
So, what could a person do, if he/ she wanted to persuade someone to think/ feel/ act as he/ she would like them to?
This, it turns out, is pretty simple…
(I imagine that is why more people don’t do it this way.)
…To persuade people, one need only share one’s stories.
In sharing one’s experience, one connects with others. Connecting with others is the first step to persuading them and the only path to genuine communication.
Without connection we are just talking past one another. I think you already know how frustrating that is. I know I do.
Sharing one’s stories requires courage. It requires courage because to really share one’s experience, one must share one’s emotions. And that means one must allow one’s self to be vulnerable.
(I know, used the “V” word. I’ll wait until the heebie jeebies stop.)
Without vulnerability, there can be no connection.
Connection, like all good things, requires risk. In this case it is simply risking being rejected by another human being. (I say simply, but as most of us can attest, this is the most difficult thing in life. Some never manage it. Simple does not mean easy.)
File this under, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
(If you don’t think honey is as dear as, say, the security of your ego, go ask the bees what they think. I’m certain it will be an interesting answer.)
That phrase, it’s a cliche, but cliches exist because they point to something that many of us find generally true in our experience. We just call it cliche because people say it so fucking much without connecting to its meaning anymore. More’s the pity.
To harangue people is easy. All you have to be is angry and uncaring of the subjective experience of others. (This is, sometimes, completely justified, by the way.) But haranguing people requires no connection, requires no courage. Most of all it requires no humanity.
Is that what we are looking for when we are trying to educate, illuminate, or motivate?
Somehow I don’t think so.
What do you think?