Let’s Stop Being Afraid of Language – Communication and Freedom Lessons From Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Broken RobotCommunication presentation is the careful and concise logic behind selecting words to communicate an idea—the rules of grammar and punctuation aid in communicating correctly to enhance the sense and communicate the vision.  Language is a grand and glorious tool for sharing ideas, empowering motivation, and building ideas into action items.  Yet, for some reason, words have become cheapened by political positions, and I would see this trend cease forthwith.  Presenting the first and second principles of language and communication:

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Consider two emails; the content is identical, the first is titled:

How To Learn and Master Things Faster – Five Tips

The second email was received later in the day and is titled:

How To Learn and Excel At Things Faster – Five Tips

The second email also came with an apology:

Apologies for churn. The original email today used a non-inclusive word in the header. We apologize for this error and are re-sending with the corrected content.

The content of the email did not change at all, only the titles changed, and the apology suggests that there is a “non-inclusive” word in the original title.  Some people will erroneously claim that the term master is automatically a negative term and base that assumption upon slavery, especially with Juneteenth celebrations abounding this weekend.  Except, master and mastery are not negative terms.

Knowledge Check!As a point of reference, a male teacher is a master.  There are master degrees; master also appears in religious texts as an honorific.  A master can be a highly accomplished person in a trade or craft, or a role model from history.  One having authority over another to force compulsion is much lower in the definition lists.  Hence, the wordsmithing for “inclusion” is a myth; yet the fear of potentially appearing to be exclusive forced the title change in this email and was 100% wrong!

We must never forget the following:

My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [emphasis mine].

The fear of thought police drives a lot of other problems in society.  Choose the wrong word on an advertisement, and college children (thought terrorists) have been known to storm the business, ruin patronage, anger the entire community, and force the business closure.  All because they presume the mantle of “Master of Thought Police.”  Who gave them this authority?  Where are their charter, endowment, and power originating from?  Who granted permission; this last one is easy; the license to become a terrorist was self-assumed!  Necessitating the following principle:

The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Social Justice Warrior

Please note, I am not against wordsmithing to increase the potential power of communication to reach an audience.  Nor am I against the careful selection of words to provide clear context and empower a collective message through editing.  I will certainly not be upset because someone chooses one word in a message that I might not have used had I been in their shoes.  Why have we, the adults in society, allowed the children in the community to act like spoiled brats and create fear and division over word selection and placement in a message?

The following two quotes contain more than simple support for the principles of communicating but reflect how those principles of freedom and communication operate in society.

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideologues, dogmatists, and bullies–people who think that their rightness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to subscribe to their particular ideology, dogma, or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them!” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [emphasis mine]

QuestionIs the fear of the mob so significant that even without a mob, fear is spread, risks must be avoided proactively, and thoughts curtailed?  I say NO!  I defy the entire argument that word selection can cause exclusion.  Why; because understanding is a choice!  The only person who can choose to be insulted over a word is you!  You own the emotions of the moment, and your emotional choices are not my concern!  Do we understand this concept?

Audience selection is the first job in designing communication.  Identifying the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences is the job of the communication initiator.  After drafting that message and sending the ideas out, the audience is left to choose what they do moving forward.  How you choose is your power, and I am not responsible for your choices.  The communication initiator is not accountable for your preferences and selections.

Andragogy - LEARNBut what about those messages specifically designed to inflame, insult, denigrate, and deride?  What changed?  Nothing!  The communication initiator desired to rile the primary audience, deny them this power over you, choose different emotions, and retain the moral high ground.  The best response to a communication initiator who wants to rule your emotions is to deny them that power, and then that person goes away as irrelevant.

Opposing thoughts expand our minds with both experience and the force to make a decision.  If all we ever experienced were ideas and thoughts we agreed with, change, growth, opinion, all the spice of life would be lost.  Worse, envy would overcome logic, and the world would undoubtedly be a more violent place as a result.

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy – I don’t disparage envy, but I don’t accept it as legitimately my master.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Social Justice Warrior 3

Is the ability to choose emotional reasoning supported sufficiently to empower you?  One of the great tragedies of life, since the 1960s, has been the call for “equality” when the worship of envy was the actual message.  Worse, these ideas have been planted and carefully tended, and the fruit is poison.  When I moved to the western US as a kid, I was introduced to cedar trees for the first time.  A cedar tree is the place of choice for pregnant animals to have their offspring, as the cedar slowly transforms the ground under it into a sterile environment.  The air is affected, the earth is involved, and the grove of cedar trees holds tremendous power for generations inside the forest of cedar trees.  The cedar tree is an excellent example of the power of envy worship.  Call envy equality if you prefer, but the fruit will kill and poison the minds of those choosing to plant the seeds for generations.

Taking the concepts into the final thought:

Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves the necessity for perpetual choice, which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [emphasis mine].

Calvin & Hobbes - EnmityLike the expanded mind, choice leads to decisions, decision spurs action, and action will result in consequences.  How you perceive the effects will drive the next series of choices, decisions, activities, and consequences.  Liberty and freedom allow us the glory and the horror of choice and consequence.  Thus, I plead with you, stop allowing your emotional decisions to be controlled by others!  Cease the turmoil over language, speak simply, communicate clearly, and then rest knowing you have not intentionally caused harm.  The audience is left to choose, and if they choose to be offended, those are not your consequences to suffer!

Reason may be the lever, but sentiment gives you the fulcrum and the place to stand on if you want to move the world.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Indifference

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyMilitary commanders are taught there are two great sins in planning operations; one is waiting, and predictability and the other is indifference.  Today, business leaders are instructed well by academics about the problems with waiting to make a decision, failing to act, and the costs of blown opportunities from taking too long to make a decision.  But few have ever considered the costs of indifference.  I intend to close this gap in education, using some recent examples and some history to reflect why indifference is a corrosive acid on the souls of men.

Indifference

Indifference is all about a lack of interest, not having or showing concern, and refusing sympathy.  Webster has also referred to indifference as unimportant.  When discussing the sympathetic aspects of indifference, please remember, sympathy is part of the emotions of ruination.  Many people continue to become lost in showing empathy and sympathy when choosing not to emote or become involved in the feelings of others is a better course of action.  Lacking sympathy might not be a terrible thing in a particular circumstance and does not reflect indifference.

What is the distinction between choosing not to emote and indifference?

Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and ChoiceLet’s take Robert Solomon’s position that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a social event. Indifference is not distinguishable from other emotions and remains a choice, a judgment, or a social event.  Except one is not left trying to distinguish between indifference as emotion and indifference as lacking interest or caring.  More to the point, if indifference was simply an emotion to choose, then indifference is apathy, and apathy is another emotion on the path to ruination.

Hence, there must be more to the concept of indifference to make the separation between indifference as emotion and indifference as an action.  Let us pause here for a moment mentally and keep one principle firmly in mind, indifference, or the activities that reflect indifference, are a choice, a decision, and judgment about the social situation.  Choices have natural consequences that cannot be escaped.  The consequences of choosing indifference cannot always be controlled or directly understood as lines of congruence from the choice of indifference to the consequences of indifference.  These principles remain valid for all emotional choices expressed by humans.  Worse, the valuation of the consequences can vary wildly from person to person, creating additional consequences that snowball into major social events quickly.

Emtional Investment CycleSolomon makes a classic point in tying indifference to defensive mechanisms used in choosing emotional interactions for social situations.  Indifference can reflect envy, resentment, hate, disdain, and the “opposite” of these emotions: love and respect—indifference embodying the individual’s psyche through emotional choices.  When angry, frustrated, or time-pressured, how many times has the words “I don’t care” slipped out as the position when at another time the decision would not have been indifferent?  Is the defensive aspect clear?

Please note, when using the term opposite, I am trying to be easily understood.  The problem when discussing emotions is that there are no clear-cut opposites to emotions.  For example, the opposite of light is dark; but light shades include darkness to set emotional states or moods.  Opposite always depends upon the context, e.g., the social situation of human interactions.  Another aspect of emotions is the transformation from one to another, the speed of transformation, and the social context forcing a change.  Thus, making distinctions between emotions remains ambiguous and always will depend upon context and the social environment.Apathy

Finally, please remember that positive and negative are valuations of consequences, not emotional choices.  The emotional choice will have consequences, and the social situation, the judgment, and the choice will be reflected in the consequences experienced.  The emotion itself cannot be judged without the consequences, and the valuation of the consequences is deeply personal.  Hence trying to characterize an emotion is simpleminded and detrimental to all aspects of emotional valuation.  The emotion cannot be evaluated or valued, but the consequences from that emotional choice must be considered and given value.  Does this make sense?

People seeking to control social situations employ emotional sophistry to plasticize the emotion and the consequence into weapons to force those they select to either come closer or move further away.  Where indifference is concerned, the aspects of defense remain the most influential aspect of emotional choices leading to action.  The cost and constraint of emotion are all found in the consequences of that emotional choice and social environment.  Defense mechanisms work to protect, but as the axiom goes, a good defense is supported by a good offense.  The best defensive drivers drive offensively and defensively, balancing the offense and defense to protect themselves, as a continuous string of decisions while driving.Plato 3

I realize this was a long explanation, but understanding the consequences of choosing to emote, choosing to be indifferent as a defensive position, and employing other emotions in social environments to judge others, are all connected emotionally speaking.  Remaining interconnected and the failure to describe these relationships does not produce the understanding for evaluating the situations around us properly.  Let me be clear, the difference between choosing to emote and indifference is the defensive aspect of indifference when applied to a social situation.

Indifference in Action

Consider the teenager who, when given a choice, screams, “I don’t care.”  When they calm down, who will care a great deal but are stuck inside their choice and consequence cycle because they chose to defend when they needed a different emotional response to a particular situation?  My wife, when we got married, discussed how to decorate the home.  I decided that the home looks and the decorations making a house a home were beyond my purview, realizing I have no taste in furnishings and am happy with bare essentials.  This decision has aggravated and grated on my wife for our entire marriage (20+ years), but I refuse to budge.Plato 2

I am not indifferent to what the house looks like, but I have no interest in the minutia of decorations and decorating.  Hence, my simplicity is not indifference, as my wife has judged, but a recognition that there are more important aspects to life than choosing colors and styles of curtains, where furniture goes, or how to light a room.  My consequence has been that sometimes I might not like her ideas but live with them due to the consequences of my choice to stay out of decorating decisions entirely.  I have also had to move furniture I did not particularly like because she prefers a style and shape.  My decision has also led to a host of other consequences.  Since I refuse to budge on helping to decorate, I remain indifferent to how the house looks and push all credit onto her while accepting the blame for anything out of place or undesired in her home.

WhyPublic examples of indifference abound; one of the most obvious was the Beer Summit.  President Obama’s indifference to police officers during the Henry Louis Gates arrest debacle in July 2009 reflected poorly in a socially political aspect for all his faults and all his other decisions.  Thus the “Beer Summit” was held to improve the appearances of indifference towards police by the sitting US President.  Except, the “Beer Summit” was as empty as the calories of the beer consumed for the next time a police controversy arose, the sitting US President went out of his way to blame police before all the facts were known.  Leading to the question, what is President Obama defending by showing indifference to police officers?

Another aspect of indifference has been the Federal Response to individual states legalizing cannabis, a trend that took off under President Obama.  The executive in charge, the sitting US President, reflected indifference towards states broadening the “state-approved legal” use of cannabis.  Was the sitting president indifferent due to a defensive position due to his history of drug use?  Are the stories true that President Obama smoked cannabis in the White House?  Is there a connection between indifference showed by the US President and the rise of states legalizing cannabis?

Question 3President Trump was criticized for caring too much about war zones and problems outside the United States, while the infrastructure crumbled and the poor suffered.  President Obama was criticized for his refusals to enforce “Red Lines” being crossed with impunity and where internationally illegal weapons of mass destruction were employed.  Which one was a reflection of indifference?  Why?  I am not getting into political discussions here; the topic is indifference, and recognizing indifference and the consequence from indifferent actions remains crucial to improving decision-making.  Both presidents inherited situations where American Troops were in harm’s way, and these troop conditions rightly took priority in decision-making short and long-term.  Yet, which president was indifferent?  Why?  Does indifference change solely because of political leanings?  Why?

President Biden was criticized for being indifferent to National Guard Troops sleeping in parking garages during his ascension and confirmation as US President in January and February 2021.  When the political appearances could no longer be sidestepped, token measures were taken to improve troop comforts.  What is President Biden defending where US Troops in the US Capitol are concerned?

Knowledge Check!Indifference surrounds us in every social situation, every day.  Do we understand the role indifference is currently playing in obstructing development, hampering growth, and destroying lives?  Since Feb. 2020, the globe has witnessed governments running away with stealing freedoms and liberties from the citizenry, issuing mandates and restrictions without due process, all because of a “health emergency.”  The indifference to science by the politicians stealing liberty has been deafening.  The indifference to the citizenry and the judiciary has also been deafening.  To fight indifference, we must first understand what we are witnessing and then address that indifference at the source.  We must realize our own indifference and determine why before we can begin to understand the larger applications of indifference and force change.

Reference

Solomon, R. C. (2007). Not passion’s slave: Emotions and choice [Kindle 6]. Buy your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Passions-Slave-Emotions-Passionate/dp/0195179781

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Apathy, Empathy, and Sympathy – Chapter 2

Never Give Up!It never seems to change; the powers that think they run the world want everyone drinking the Kool-Aid of emotional entanglement.  August 2020, I wrote the first chapter on apathy, empathy, and sympathy; unfortunately, the events of this past week have shown that a return to this topic is both necessary and urgently needed.  What worries me is that too many still feel they must share emotions to prove their care towards something or someone else, an idea that is 100% false!

What is Apathy?

ApathyApathy is all about a lack of enthused concern.  Being apathetic is a choice to show no concern, emotional connection to an issue, or interest.  The choice to be apathetic is personal and does not indicate that a person is heartless; simply that the person being apathetic is making different choices where emotion is concerned on a topic.  Choosing a different emotional response to a situation is a good thing and reflects intelligence in understanding emotional pitfalls and emotional problems leading to problems and chaos.

What is Empathy?

Empathy v ApathyEmpathy, of all the emotional pitfalls, empathy is the most devious of this list’s emotional responses.  Empathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions, and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the cognizant emotional choices is given away to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathySympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is the most dangerous of the emotional tools on this list, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people who were so sympathetic with another person in my travels that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Examples of runaway emotional hysteria.

Detective 4The 800#-Gorilla in the news is COVID-19; the corporate media is using sympathy and empathy to garner support for the government to continue the lockdowns, the mask mandates, the economic decline, and to refuse and refute those governors in the U.S. who want to return to business as usual pre-COVID.  Sympathy for the dead, empathy for the families left behind, sympathy for those in hospitals, empathy for those first responders struggling with COVID cases, and so much more.  The logic is never equal to the emotional marionette strings, and heaven forbid someone approaches the media with facts.  Want more proof that the media is only interested in the emotional gamesmanship of sympathy and empathy; look to historical records of Ebola in the US, Swine-flu, Avian-Flu, SARS, MERS, annual flu outbreaks, and other viral outbreaks.  You will find headlines blaring a need to sympathize, empathize, and emote in a specified manner, or you are considered heartless, uncaring, and a host of -isms that make no sense, except to those demanding an emotional response.

Consider the “influencer culture” that has gripped the world for more than two decades as social media has swept the world.  In case you missed the definition of “influencer culture,” it is all about people with above-average influence on an audience.  The best influencers have built their reputation online for being an expert in some particular niche or are cashing in on their popularity through sports, politics, or Hollywood. They are similar to key opinion leaders but usually have gained their reputation more informally through their online activity.  Consider the emotional diatribes regarding Lady Gaga’s dogs being stolen.  Heck, I don’t even know who or what a “Lady Gaga” is, but I know a dog theft is not that big a news item.  Yet, how many days has your newsfeed been filled with this story?  Worse, BBC and Time have run follow-on stories about dog thefts and tried to raise “public awareness” of a problem, demanding empathy and sympathy from the audience due to influencer culture.

Baby Blues - Good AnswerI saw a headline in my newsfeed that had me laughing, “What the U.S. owes Iran?” authored by Ryan Cooper.  My answer was first a low-yield nuclear bomb, at about 150’-agl, and a smile!  My second answer is not fit to print.  My third and fourth answers were similar, but to have the author advocating for the fraudulent President Biden to “budge first” was an absolute farce!  Still, even on this topic, the author begs the audience to have sympathy and empathy for Iran’s citizens and political structure before America and the rest of the world, who have been victims of Iran’s tyranny and terrorism over the last several decades.  Is the pattern clear; when emotions of empathy and sympathy override common-sense and logic, control of the audience is no longer individually held but collectively controlled.

ParadoxMy newsfeed has been clogged by some spoiled brats who fled a palace in the United Kingdom for fame and fortune in America and some stupid interview with Oprah.  Beyond that, I have no clue what their pampered beef is and could care less.  Yet, this entire week has been filled with demands from the crown for sympathy and empathy, cries for sympathy, and empathy for the runaway pampered couple in California.  As well as cries for Oprah who is not a big enough girl to stand criticizing memes and people who use her as a meme are “digital blackfacing.”  Digital blackfacing, what a plastic term of useless indignation which is masquerading as a call for sympathy and empathy.

How do people move forward?

The following are suggestions; I employ them for my own sanity.  I make my own choices and live with the consequences, and I urge you to consider the same:

      1. Restrict the media flow into your life. I do not watch TV, listen to the radio, or allow any specific corporate media channel to infest my digital devices or computer.  I have five specific news provider applications, but it has taken a lot of time and effort to stop being a news junkie!Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and Choice
      2. Robert Solomon wrote, “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice.” Make some time to read this book.  I am not saying everyone has to follow everything Solomon claims; I am saying that being more informed about the role of emotions and conscious choices is empowering, sanctioning, and liberating.Emtional Investment Cycle
      3. Are you aware of your emotional investments? I have two people I respect, but they hold opposing views and emotional investments.  Both have grown children, but one allows their children space to act as independent agents.  The other tries to be a helicopter parent for the kids who now have kids.  Worse, the helicopter parent cannot catch the hint that the kids do not want anything to do with their parent.  The helicopter parent is so emotionally involved that they have physical health problems from the emotional wasteland’s stress and anxiety between the kids and the parent.  Thus, I ask, do you know where your emotional investments are?  What is your return on investment for emotionally investing?

Image - Eagle & FlagI promise as you review and reduce your emotional investments, you will experience a feeling of liberation like you have never known before.  Stress levels drop, time becomes available for other activities, and a more conscious choice of emotional investing makes you a better person to be around.  Stop giving away your emotional liberty to those who would control and destroy you, be they children, friends, employment, media, politics, etc.; you can be free of emotional chains.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.