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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Know Your Audience and Their Likely Response

Hey All --

It's the mid-point of a three day weekend that unofficially concludes Summer 2013.  But it's still Sunday night, and you know what that means!

It is often said that one should never discuss religion or politics in polite society.  I respectfully disagree.  If we stifle ourselves the extent suggested by those inclined by politically correct, there's not that much conversation left.  Stifling the freedom of expression, whether by governmental edict (automatically unconstitutional, but save that for another post), by family-based guilt, or by fear of tripping the offense-o-meter that someone else has set too high, is neither brave, respectable, or admirable.  We were given voices, there's nothing wrong with using them.

That being said, those voices should only be used with the guidance and accuracy of the mind.  We don't just spew anything that we feel like shooting out there just for the sake of hearing our own voices.  We use them when we have logical, rational, and winning arguments, just like an attorney does at Court.

So how do we reconcile these two correct, but contradictory, truisms?  We know our audience.

(1)  THE "WE DON'T CARE" CROWD:

Oh yeah, I'm going after these people again, after a while they're gonna lose their cool, detached veneer and be forced to start caring about a whole lot!

Often times, we'll introduce an issue that we feel so strongly about, so passionately about, something that comes from the very fiber of our being, only to be shushed, pooh-poohed, ignored, interrupted, or minimized by the unconcerned.

At this time, I have no winning strategy to use against this foe.  We can stand on our heads and give award-winning arguments until we're blue in the face.  They will have intentionally blocked all frequencies with shrugged shoulders, and converted our carefully-chosen vocabulary into the muffled-tuba sounds incorporated by Charlie Brown's teachers.  It is sad, it is frustrating, and it's more than a little rude.

Limit your contact with this crowd as much as possible.  Your message is better received by those who are more empathetic and open-minded.  Save it for them instead.  Trying to get through to these other folks is about as productive as punching a hole through a brick wall.  As I've said before, we do not live in a comic book, so instead of making your own doorway to the other side of that wall, you'll walk away with fractured metacarpals.

Getting angry at these folks, despite the above description, in the face of their obvious disinterest does not hurt them, it hurts you.  Whatever their reasons for their lack of response, it's not your fault, and it's also not a reason to hate them either.  There's no reason to make yourself crazy trying to get through to people who could care less about your message or you.  Go reach an audience that does appreciate your message, and you.

(2)  THE ALLIES YOU DON'T NOTICE:

Sometimes, we get so caught up in sending our message, we don't bother to listen to the response.  This is also dangerous, because we may be going after someone who agrees with us when we assume that they're an adversary, or part of the WDC's.

You may think that they're not getting your message, and you may be sorrily mistaken.  Maybe they just want to add a riff to what you say.  Or maybe they just see it from a slightly different angle.  To use legal jargon, they "concur under separate grounds."

Give them the same courtesy they gave you.  They did not put up walls of apathy like the other crew did.  They listened.  They heard you loud and clear.  They found merit to your view, and empathize with your feelings.  Chances are, they may have thought of something that you didn't.

If this is true, then part of you may be so disappointed with yourself for not scooping up that biscuit first, that you're projecting your frustration on the one who did.  This is also a mistake.  Rather than attack them, enlist them.  And be happy they haven't yet made an enemy of you!

(3)  YOURSELF:

In other words, think before you speak, and edit before you write.  Pretend you're them, would you listen to you?

Is this the kind of statement you'd want people to remember you stating?  You can take it back, you can edit it, delete it, apologize for it, etc., but once it's out there, it's out there.  Even in this season of repentance and pardon, not everyone who hears you apologize will forgive you for wronging them.

Preparation:  Edit Yourself.  Is it something you'd want on your tombstone?  Something you'd want our callous and uncaring media to endlessly quote you as saying?  Is it the voice of your authentic and genuine self?  Is it exactly what you mean?  Will it bring consequences down on you or your loved ones?

If you don't have an unequivocal answer to any of the above, don't say or write it.  BEFORE IS BETTER.

Afterwards:  Forgive Yourself.  As I alluded to above, G-D is all-forgiving.  The rest of us aren't.  But even the angriest cries of offense, the strongest denouncements, and even the deserved consequences fade, you're still here.  You're human, you're flawed, and you're limited.  Nobody says the right thing at the right time all the time, no matter how much they think they do.  Not even I can do that!

But nobody, not the unforgiving or the WDC's, are interested in seeing you fall on your own sword.  Once you've made a brief and sincere apology, show's over.  Beating yourself up for your faults and foibles does not "reinforce" what you shouldn't do next time.  Instead, it does nothing but slightly expedite your eventual demise, and make your existence more painful than it ought to be.  File it away as a reference point, use it to improve your judgment, and keep on saying what you need to say.  Just let your conscience and your intellect, together with whatever mistakes you've made, serve as guideposts and boundaries in your future endeavors.

Yup, just a little something I needed to share with you, my audience.

As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, the 10 Days of Awe will begin shortly.  This is the beginning of the lunar calendar used in Judaism, and it marks a season of repentance for sins committed against G-D, which are automatically forgiven and sins committed by everyone else against each other, which are not.

Those of you who are closest to me will be receiving direct messages in this regard, but since this season is upon us, I'd like to acknowledge to my audience that I haven't always said things in the best way they could be said, and I may have left someone with hurt feelings as a result.

For that, I apologize.  I can endeavor to avoid doing so in the coming year, but I still have messages to get out.  The best I can do is change the way they're presented so that they help, and not hurt; and that they resolve, and not aggravate.  I have many things to say, but I'm still only human.

This is not a guarantee that every single solitary thing I say from now on will be non-offensive to anyone and everyone.  But it is an admission that I've been wrong before, a notice that I'd like to make my peace with anyone who ever felt hurt by my statements, and a resolution that I will increase my efforts to state my messages the right way.

OK, now I'm done.  Any questions or comments, please message me directly.