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Friday, March 24, 2017

2016: The Happy Gilmore Election

I normally don't get political in my blog.  It really is meant to be study or observations on  addiction/codependent behavior and human nature.  But, an insight I had this week was too good to pass up.  I will try to be somewhat even-handed about it as I really don't want this to be a springboard for arguments on politics.  Really, it is meant to be a humorous observation/take on the 2016 election and the human nature behind it.  So, here goes.

I think it's fairly safe to say that most people (but not all) were surprised by the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.  But, in hindsight, it shouldn't have been that big of a surprise.  Think Happy Gilmore and you'll understand. Let's break the election down and compare it to Happy Gilmore for some perspective.

Many Trump supporters:

  • Like in Happy Gilmore, they were new to the game.
    • Trump picked up large crowds, many of whom were in large part new to the political process. 
    • Happy picked up large crowds many of whom were not new to golf.
  • Their 'hero' was unconventional.
    • Happy was a lifelong hockey player turned pro-golfer.
    • Trump was lifelong businessman turned Presidential candidate.
  • Their 'hero' was not political correct 
    • Happy had outbursts on the course and openly vented his frustration unlike conventional golfers.
    • Trump does stream of conscience speaking & tweeting in a way unlike conventional politicians.
  • They saw an establishment that had contempt for them.  They saw Hillary as arrogant like "Shooter MacGavin". They saw Shooter as someone who despised Happy as Hillary seemed to with Trump.
  • Their 'hero' was the underdog whom the establishment tried to block at points.

Many Hillary supporters:
  • Saw Trump as uncouth/improper oaf, just as Shooter & much of the 'respected' golf establishment saw Happy.
  • Saw Trump as a dangerous potential leader who would 'go off'' without warning in Tweets and who would cause diplomatic rows.  Just like Shooter saw Happy as an 'unhinged' idiot who could be thrown off balance and who'd be prone to problems, like Happy was when he brawled with Bob Barker after being heckled mercilessly. 
  • Many saw a lot of Trump's supporters as being racist/redneck in the way that Shooter saw many of Happy's fans as lacking etiquette.
  • Couldn't imagine that she could lose to Trump, just like Shooter couldn't believe that he could lose to such a graceless buffoon.  
  • Shocked and stunned when she lost, just as Shooter was when he did. 

  • Happy, like Trump was new to the scene, upsetting the old order and making enemies, but his outrageous style also peaked the golfing world's interest, just like Trump peaked the political world's interest.
    • Much of the golfing establishment was appalled by Happy, but he was kept in the game to drive up attendance and ratings.
    • Trump appalled much of the establishment, but he drew media attention with his words and tweets.  He was kept high profile as it was good for ratings.
  • Happy like Trump was at one point thought to be a fluke who'd fade into the background, but defied expectations and stayed in the game like Trump stayed in the race. 
  • Happy collected wins as did Trump along the way.
    • For Happy first it was it was wagers, then it became a local tournament, then it became the professional tour.
    • For Trump, first it was a close Iowa, then NH and South Carolina, Super Tuesday and off to the races.
  • A few in the old order supported Happy, like a few in the old order supported Trump.
    • PR head Virginia Venit for Happy in Happy Gilmore.
    • Sen. Jeff Sessions for Trump.
  • Both at their peak had some stumbles.
    • Happy
      • He lost the AT&T open badly.
      • He got into a fight with Bob Barker after he was heckled by 'plant'.
      • His coach Chubbs Peterson falls to his death after being spooked by an alligator head.
      • He loses the house in auction to Shooter MacGavin and must win the "Tour Championship" to get the house from him.
      • On the final day of the Tour Championship, a crazy man hired by Shooter runs Happy down injuring him. Later overeager fans up up climbing up and knocking over a tower which obstructs the final hole for Happy.
    • Trump
      • He had setbacks in Colorado, Wisconsin and few other states.
      • He had a few setbacks with Tweet storms that were controversial
      • He had a setback with the Access Hollywood tape.
  • Both recovered and won
    • Trump blitzed across battleground states in the fading days and won with close victories in a few key states when few thought he would win. He also overcame his controversies.
    • Happy learned to better manage his temper and he practiced his putting at a mini-golf course and got better at it.  He kept up with Shooter on the first 3 days of the "Tour Championship", but was thrown off on the last day.  At the end, when the course become impossible, somehow Happy played the impossible course (using his mini-golf skills) and dramatically won.

I believe that like Trump, people had strong feelings about both the character Happy and the movie Happy Gilmore.  Many love Trump, like many in the movie loved Happy.  However, there are many that despise him, like there were many in the movie that despised Happy.  Like Trump himself, many see the movie as a "Cult classic".  Others see the movie as another juvenile pile, just like Trump himself.


Anyway, my takeaways from this blog are the following.

  1. If we see this as a Happy Gilmore election you will understand why Trump won.  He was different and underestimated at many points in the election. like Happy was.  Trump's fans at rallies really did translate into votes.  Just like Happy's fans on the course, helped encourage him.
  2. Just like Happy, Trump won the "Tour Championship".  It was called the "November election".
  3. It remains to be seen if Trump succeeds like Happy did.  Happy not only won the Tour Championship, but he got Grandma's house back.  Trump won the "Tour Championship", but it remains to be seen if he gets back grandma's house (has a successful term).
  4. If you get too mad reading this post, you need to lighten up and see it as sarcastic as it is meant.  Yes, I realize the Presidency is a serious matter, but it's nice to be able to laugh at the serious stuff occasionally.

All I have to say is this.  After reading this, I hope you are all Happy.  HAHA.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Loneliness is such a sad affair

It's amazing, we live in cities with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of people, yet we somehow find a way to be lonely.  I'm not necessarily saying lonely all the time, but you know we all have our moments.  For some people, the moments are occasional, but for others the moments are lasting and seemingly without end.

The anniversary of my marriage was the other day.  We were pretty low key about it.  It's not that we didn't consider it important, but we consider it a step in a lifelong process. In my first marriage, we focused too much on reaching and celebrating the milestones and not enough time on the health of the relationship.  So, for me, I look forward to us working together and letting the milestones come naturally and then taking time to celebrate them rather than making a production of reaching and planning them.   We've had many really good moments in which it all seems to click, but we've also had growing pains.  Unfortunately, blended families rarely work as smoothly as The Brady Bunch.  There is a period of time it takes for everyone to get know and trust each other  Anyway, our schedules do not always permit us to spend us much time as we'd like getting to know each other and/or discussing what we need to.  Any married couple with two working parents, I'm sure can relate.  This leads to moments of loneliness in which we feel the other can't always be there for our daily life challenges, concerns or triumphs.  So, it is our goal in the next year to find enough or make enough 'us' time to help with that.

This all got me to thinking about loneliness.  I believe everyone has times of loneliness in which they realize it is just them and their Higher Power (God).  For example, my wife is aware of and empathizes with my current neck injury and I her knee injury, but neither of us has experienced the specific injury problem/level of the other.  Therefore, there is a certain amount of loneliness we have in dealing with our injuries.  I imagine when a spouse has cancer it is sort of like that too.  You support him or her as much as you can, but ultimately, they have to be the one who battles it.


So, how would I classify the types of loneliness.  Based on what I've experienced, on what I've seen in others and on what I can surmise, here is a breakdown of loneliness.

  • Where you miss the closeness of family.  The following are circumstances that could lead to familial loneliness. 
    • Your family of origin is not very close-knit.  For whatever reasons the bonds you see in 'perfect' families never fully took, stuck or were available.  
      • You never really knew your family--this can either be immediate family (such as a missing parent) or extended family (such as aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents).
      • You knew them but for whatever reason or dysfunction there was a lack of closeness.
    • You family of origin is scattered or busy.  Getting together can be an undertaking in some circumstances.
    • Your family of origin has been decimated.  As we get older we lose those who have been a fixture of our family.  This can secondarily lead to a breakdown of remaining family.  Unfortunately, for me, this type of circumstance has hit close to home.
  • Where you miss the closeness of friends.  The following are circumstances that could lead to this type of loneliness.
    • You have few if any friends.  
      • No man is an island.  We all need to be part of a bigger gang.
      • People are generally social creatures and best thrive when surrounded by friends.
    • You have few close friends
      • You may have a lot of acquaintances, people you see at work, church or wherever.
      • However, at the end of the day, you may not really have much of anyone to be able to call on.  To me that is the definition of closeness.
    • You have close friends, but they are often unavailable.
      • They have a busy schedule and it is hard to find time with them.
      • You are separated by significant distance and it is hard to get together easily with them.
  • Where you miss the closeness of a romantic relationship/marriage family.  The following are circumstances that could lead to relational loneliness
    • You are single and unattached.  While being single has its perks, one of the drawbacks is not having someone to curl up with and hear "I love you".
    • You have a relationship/marriage which is by strife and disconnect.  Relationships on balance are meant to be a safe place for us.  One where we can share our joys, fears and all other feelings in between.  When this is limited or nonexistent in a relationship, it can feel vary isolated.  Isolation of course can lead to the disintegration of a relationship.

  • Where you wonder about your role.
    • Sometimes we might seem like we are just another cog in the wheel at our job.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we were not present, would anyone care that much.
    • Sometimes in our group (friends/family/etc), we can be just another voice and not necessarily feel like an important one.
    • Sometimes we might wonder about our role in the cosmic scheme.  That is do we matter to or in our Higher Power's universe (God).
  • Where you wonder about your impact.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are making a positive difference in the lives of others.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are raising our children in the best way.  That is are we being the best leader.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are doing anything significant in the world are or we just replaceable?
  • Where you wonder about your legacy.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we were gone if we'd be forgotten or missed that much.
    • Sometimes we wonder if after we are long gone will there be any sign that we mattered.
      • Lasting impact in the lives of others--lives that we positively changed.
      • A 'monument' to what we left behind.  It could be things we built or created, ideas/concepts/writings that we shared, a marker that we mattered somewhere.
  • Where you wonder about your eternal destiny.
    • We think about this during our lives, but we might consider it more as our health starts to deteriorate.
    • We might wonder if we be 'punished' or 'rewarded' for the life we lived and the ideal we tried to follow.
    • We might wonder if we will see those we lost along the way.
    • We might wonder if we will even have any sense of self or awareness after the final curtain has gone down.
    • We might wonder if there is any real existence after this life has passed.  (All we are is dust in the wind?)


As I indicated previously, I believe that everyone experiences loneliness of a sort at some time or another in their life.  I think it's unavoidable and can even be beneficial in that it can help clarify who or what really matters in our life.  As social creatures if we feel too much loneliness, I believe we have a tendency to try to assuage it.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, I believe we have to keep a few questions in mind when trying to lessen or assuage loneliness.

  • Is the amount of 'loneliness' we feel reasonable to expect or feel, especially relative to our situation?  
    • Is it excessive and indicates a mental health issue?
    • Is it excessive and indicates a need to interact or connect more with others?
  • Are we spending too much time, effort and trouble trying to 'remedy' it and not enough effort accepting it as 'part of life'.
    • We can recognize some loneliness is okay and doesn't need to be 'cured'.
    • We can recognize our efforts to 'cure' our loneliness may be way out of wack with the extent of loneliness we are feeling.
      • Just because we are feeling kind of lonely doesn't mean we have to go out every night looking for others to 'cure' it.
  • Are we mistaking the type(s) of loneliness we are feeling?
    • If we feel too much existential loneliness, trying to deal with or 'cure' it with a relationship is probably a mistake.
      • Family/friends can support us, but they can't be our reason for being or our crutch to avoid dealing with existential loneliness.
      • If we focus on using relationships to solve our existential loneliness, we may end up with too many, too new, too involved, too entangled or some other unhealthy relationship issue.  Ultimately, while others can help support us and help us walk through life, it is up to our and our Higher Power to work out the existential questions.
    • If we feel too much relational loneliness, trying to 'cure' it with an 'existential' solution is likely a mistake.
      • While it is important for us to feel like and be driven by a purpose in life, a purpose will not replace the benefits of healthy relationships with others.
      • While it is important to focus on our purpose, we can't necessarily focus on a purpose 24/7/365.  Even if we throw our lives into a purpose, there will be downtimes in which it will be hard to relational loneliness.
    • Like resentment, we can only ignore or suppress relational loneliness for so long before it blows up in our face.
      • We will search for an outlet to 'fix' it and it may not be a very healthy one.
      • Our purpose may very well suffer if it has to compete with too much relational loneliness.

I guess my takeaway on the matter of loneliness would ultimately be this:
  • Some loneliness is okay and even expected.  It can also be a positive driver for change.
  • It is important to know when work on changing it and when to learn to accept it (serenity).
  • It is important to recognize the type and degree of loneliness you are facing so you can address it the proper way.
  • At the end of the day, after we strip it all away, it is between us and our Higher Power, but we are given the gift of family and friends just as Adam was in Genesis to support us in life.

Loneliness can be such a sad affair, but like much else in life it is how you choose to deal or cope with it when it is present that can help determine just how sad it is.

This is one of the most hauntingly sad songs that I've heard.  Knowing how she lived and died and how alone she must have felt as she struggled with anorexia 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Honor vs. Duty vs. Checking off a Box

I was talking to a friend recently about family.  We came to the determination that sometimes a family's engagement with each other is colored by their faith or beliefs to the extent that they feel compelled to interact with each other.  The idea being that if certain members had their druthers they would pretty well ignore the others.  In other words since the "Good Book" says "honor thy father and mother" and the like, certain family members will humor the others out of a sense of "following the rules".   In other words, in order to be a "proper" Christian, Catholic, or whatever, you should be 'good' to family, even if it is just effectively for show.

We talked it about in terms of honor vs. duty, when I think what we really were considering was a third idea.  That is, checking off a box to their Higher Power or others they want to please.  The box says 'I did what I was supposed to' or 'I made an effort'.  Below, I will explore each of these concepts.


  • From the Army's website, is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do. I believe this is commonly how people see it.
  • Essentially, it is doing the right thing because you know it is the right thing to do.  That is to say, you wish to live a life of respect and purpose.  Respect not just for our Higher Power & others, but respect for yourself.  
  • I see it as doing what you know is right and not looking back or second guessing, you just do (often without even pausing to think about it).
  • Many people join the military or otherwise take professions in which they put their life on the line due to a sense of honor.  They feel like they are meant to help others, it is their purpose.
  • I buried my mom, my dad & my immediate older brother out of a sense of honor.  The family needed someone who would make sure each was done right in their final journey.  This included planning & preparing for their memorials/funerals, giving them a respectful eulogy, directing obituaries & making sure that where a shortfall occurred that the funds necessary would be provided to make all of this happen.  It was very draining and it sure wasn't any fun.  But for me, I knew taking care of them and those left behind in those moments was just what needed to be done, period.

  • The English Oxford Living Dictionaries first definition of duty is as follows: A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility.
  • I separate it from honor, because I see duty as something that is often done because there is a requirement to do it.  Meaning, while you respect the legal or moral requirement to do it, there may not be a greater sense of purpose or 'honor' that goes along with doing your 'duty'.
  • While doing something out of duty may not be as noble of doing it out of honor, there is a certain level of respect that is earned for doing someone who does out of duty.  While it may not be as profound as the respect earned for doing something out of honor, it still deserves respect.
  • For me, duty might be making sure your child is properly clothed, fed, educated and kept warm and safe.  It could also be making sure you do your best to do your job well.  In other words, doing the things that we are supposed to, even when we are feeling tired or short on enthusiasm.

  • To me duty implies a sincerity of purpose.  I made this category to cover when we are doing something because we believe it is expected of us, because it will 'look good' or because we have this moral 'law-based' obligation to do it.  When we do something based on any of those, we are hollow inside about it.  In short, we are insincere about purpose and/or are going through the motions.
  • An extreme case of this is illustrated in the Bible.  In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as zealots who would tie heavy, law-based loads onto those they led and make a show of 'observing the law' when in reality at best they were observing the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it.  They would often display their 'piety' publicly for show, while privately having no little or no piety.  They'd rationalize that they were set because they 'followed the rules'.
  • Sometimes, we have to check off a box when the rules or regulations or restrictions are so ridiculous that we are forced to jump through hoops (such as when starting a business).  However, what I am meaning is our personal actions being dictated by a need to make ourselves feel better (rationalize) or to appear proper.  An example of this is inviting nearby family over once a year on the holidays because our 'faith' tells us to love each other.  Yet, the balance of the year is spent ignoring them.  To me, that's not family, getting together with people because you are related to them.

I'm not sure what the takeaway from this particular blog is except this: Not everything we do in our lives is out of honor.  Many of our actions are done out of duty and there is plenty to be celebrated there as many do not even meet the basics of that.  However, I believe if our personal actions are largely dictated by the need to 'check off a box', then it is time we reexamine our lives.  That may mean stopping the insincere parts of our lives (such as pretending to be a friend, when we don't want to be one) OR adjusting our frame of mind (respecting that God gave us family and even if they aren't perfect learning to appreciate the gift of family he gave us).

I know this seems like a bit of a judgmental blog, but when often times when I write, I write with a mirror in hand to examine where I can improve or meet  the ideals I espouse.  After considering a little, I guess my secondary takeaway is to be honest with yourself and what animates your action(s).  Only by reflection can we improve.

Thanks for reading and I hope to post again soon.

-- Rich

I believe Eric Clapton honored the memory of his son with this song.  This was a love song to his son who passed way too soon.  This song often brings tears to my eyes listening to it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The insane voice, installment 7: The contrarian.

As I've went from childhood to adulthood, my life was animated by questioning everything.  I've always been a truth-seeker.  But, part of being a truth-seeker to me is asking the questions that no one else asks.  That is, the what ifs.  In that vein, I like to think of my self as a contrarian.  Sometimes that comes out as "the devil's advocate", sometimes that comes out as sarcasm and sometimes it comes out as "out there".  I will let you determine which category each of these thoughts fall into.  In the meantime, please enjoy the Installment 7 of "The Insane Voice".

1) One time I was reading through an Entertainment coupon book and noticed that some of the coupons said "Enjoy a free such and such with the purchase of a such and such".  It occurred to me that the vendor/store in the Entertainment book was kind of bossing me around.  It wasn't like "we hope you enjoy" or "Have a free" or anything like that, but instead almost a demand that I enjoy the free such and such.  I one time while using a coupon at the store, said to them, "What happens if I decide to get the free one, but not enjoy it?"  They were left speechless.  I believe I won that encounter.  HA

2) While at physical therapy the other day, U2 was playing, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and you know how serious and preachy Bono is.  It occurred to me, "Has he found what he's looking for yet?" and "Isn't 30 years long enough to find it?" and "If you can't find what your looking for, isn't it just time to shut up and give it a rest?"

3) So, we all know about the "Little Boy Who Cried Wolf".  But, who have has given thought to the "Wolf Who Cried Little Boy"?   Didn't see that coming did ya?  Anyway, I figure his fellow wolves probably get sick of him crying "little boy" and them coming to discover there was no little boy out there to chase after.  Finally one day after they'd had enough he legitimately cried, "little boy" and they ignored him,  So, he went after the little boy without the others having his back and got a beatdown from the little boy, thereby teaching him not to cry "little boy" recklessly.

4) The song "Black Widow" by Iggy Izalea, she sing the line "I'm going to love ya until you hate me".  It occurred to me, what if it was turned around: "I'm going to hate ya until you love me. Would the song be called "Loveable Jerk"?

5) So one time I saw a clerk name "Mary" at Walgreens and I was in a particularly goofy mood and asked her, "Why you always gotta be so contrary?"  As if not missing a beat, Mary the clerk said, "Well someone's gotta be".  Suffice to say, clerk Mary won that match.  BOO

6) I may have mentioned this before.  But when my dad was dying and my old minister visited him in the hospital with me, we were at the elevator and I said to him, "How long have you been practicing" in relation to his time in the minister.  It was 20-something years if I recall.  So, it occurred to me and I posed this to him:  "If practice makes perfect and you've been practicing for a long time, does that mean that you're perfect?"  He gave his, "yeah wise guy" type smile and said, "It doesn't exactly work that way."  Good comeback.

7) I recently went to subway to pick up food for the family and noticed a sign on the door: "Now Hiring Great People" and something occurred to me. Does that mean they used to hire lousy people?  I went in and asked and they laughed.  I said, no offense to you guys, they probably already got rid of the lousy ones.

8) If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, where are those who have gender identity confusion from?  I will leave that one right there and if you find this rude, just remember I didn't put the rude thought in your mind that you are thinking right now.   ^..^ 

On that note, I will bid you all a fond farewell.  Adios, goodbye, cya, ciao, bon voyage and so on and so forth...  Until next time.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The insane voice, installment 6: How rude (caution ahead).

I got the idea for this blog post upon seeing someone expressing on Facebook that they were watching a movie.  Anyway, I've seen (and heard about) people give their life story--even parts I'd rather not know.  So, it my insane voice told me to write a blog based on rude thoughts.


1) As I mentioned, the status updates people post on Facebook make me half wonder if one day people will start posting on a regular basis things like: "Using the can", "finished using the can", "belching & passing gas", "making out now", etc.  As we all need to remember, just because it is happening in our lives at this moment, DOESN'T mean that the world needs to be made aware of it.

2) On a local commercial for a frozen custard hangout called Ted Drewes.  The now owner, Ted Drewes Jr., is famous for talking up the his store/creations within commercials.  Anyway, he used to end the commercials by saying, "It really is good guys".  It has been changed to "It really is good guys and gals".  So, it occurred to me in today's day and age, that sounds old fashion.  I wonder if one day he might say, "It really is good guys and gals and pre-op and post-op transgendered people and inner city folks & rednecks from the middle of nowhere and same sex oriented and homophobes...".  I will stop right there and you can add your own additions to it.  Suffice to say, in an attempt to include all, he could easily offend certain elements or groups of our society by pointing them out or not including them.  Anyway, he's probably best just leaving at "guys and gals", even if it sounds old-fashion for some.

3) If a Siamese cat singles out and attacks a Black cat or vice versa are they exhibiting unconstitutionally discriminatory or racist behavior?

4) Speaking of said Siamese cat, I remembered that my Saimese cat has a birthday that is coming up soon.  However, his birthday is the same date as the anniversary of my first marriage.  So, I thought sarcastically hmm, I wonder if I should get my ex a gift for that date.  Soon thereafter, an idea came about: Happy Unanniversary.  It's a tradition that should be a part of every divorce settlement--except ones due to domestic violence or such.   On the date that would have been your next anniversary after the divorce, each party should be required in the settlement to get the other party a gift.  On the anniversary of the divorce, each party is required to take back the gift.  A few stipulations however:

  • The amount of the gift each one gives can be negotiated in the settlement, but it has to be a legitimate gift with significant value, not say ramen noodles or a fruitcake.
  • The gift must be a gift the other party likes.  It cannot be a gift you like and look forward to getting back.  
  • The gifts cannot be one that could be used up before returning it or lose all value before returning it.  
  • Each party must submit in writing a extensive list of possible gifts that they want and there cannot be common gifts between the two parties.  Once again, the party that gets back the gift on the divorce date should not be rewarded with something he or she likes.
  • You cannot regift the same gift in a subsequent year.
  • An meditator will review the lists to make sure they follow all these rules. 
  • Breaking these rules could result in a significant fine or penalty.
You get divorced on say February 2nd.  Your anniversary would have been May 12th.  On May 12th, each party is required to meet with a common witness and trade a wrapped gift.  The gifts must be unwrapped in front of each other and a notary witness and sign for.   On the following February 2nd, you must meet and before a notary witness and return the gift and sign that you returned it.   February 2nd is Happy Unannivesary Day for you.  It is the date in which you get to feel the loss every year.  Originally, the idea was poking fun at an old anniversary and how they aren't celebrated, but after thinking about it and mentioning it to a few people, they thought it could actually be a good teaching moment.  The idea was illustrating to you that you destroyed, lost or gave away something that was once valuable to you (a marriage).  Every Unannivesary Date would be a reminder to you not to throw away relationships (particularly marriages).  Something that would make you think of importance of working on relationships especially if you hoped to get married again. It would also be a way of having to face the reality of divorce on a yearly basis.  If you were divorced multiple times, then it could be a very expensive and painful lesson.  Now, in an abusive relationship that could be cruel, so an exception would be made.  But, in a "we just drifted apart" or whatever relationship, that could be very instructive.  One final note on this: the inventor of this idea---me--would get a lifetime exemption from this process.  Hey, it was my idea.


That last idea was a bit more involved than I thought, so I will leave it there.  I hope you enjoyed this installment of "The Insane Voice" and will come back for me.


Insane voice, installment 8

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to avoid winning an argument but losing the battle

Also known as how not to win over others.  I've been known to read and post opinions on sports, political and other forums.  I've observed a few things on debating and trying to win others over to your point of view.  Now, I don't expect everyone who reads this to necessarily agree with me, but I'm trying to feed others with food for thought.

  • Try if possible to find common ground with others.
    • That doesn't mean conceding or selling out on your core values.
    • What it does mean is offering others an opportunity to be right.  
      • Reasonable people can accept not being right all the time, but
      • Reasonable people will rebel against you if they perceive that you are always labeling wrong or attacking them.  A person may be completely wrong on a point, but if he or she feels under attack, they are more likely to double down on the point.  Pride kicks in--they'd rather stick to their guns than accept or tolerate being attacked.
    • If offers others the chance to see you as being 'reasonable', but possibly 'misguided' on some issues. This will at least keep them listening to you.  As long as they are listening to you (and not just hearing you), you still have a chance to win them over.
    • If those who you are debating meet your good faith efforts with scorn, derision or ridicule, chances are they weren't open to being reasonable anyways.  But, at least you know not to waste more time engaging them. 
  • If others tries to drag the debate or argument into the mud, don't go there with them.
    • Ad hominem or personal attacks may for a moment make you feel better especially if the others are attacking you.
      • If the other party is stuck on stupid or rude, it isn't like attacking them will suddenly correct their ignorance or silence their rudeness.
      • It is demeaning to you and your better self.  You can do better than that.
      • They may turn off others who are undecided about your point of view.
    • They may be more skilled than you rolling in the mud metaphorically.  The saying, "Never argue with an idiot.  They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience" hold true here.
    • If you maintain your composure and rhetorically destroy their arguments, you may not 'prevail' vs. whom you are debating/arguing with.  However, you might win points with witnesses to the debate/discussion.  People respect an intelligent person who can effectively argue and who doesn't get stuck rolling around in the mud.
  • Pick your battles wisely.
    • You have to know when a point is not worth fighting for.
      • The point is not important or significant to the larger argument.  It would be like a salesman quibbling over $50 on a $20,000 and risking the entire sale. 
      • Time/effort spent on an insignificant point is better spent on a substantive point.  Like being penny-wise and pound foolish.
      • If an adversary sees you getting stuck on the smaller point, he or she might get the idea to clutter up the argument with smaller points as a way of sidelining you in the larger argument. 
      • If others see you get stuck on 'winning' an insignificant point, they may lose interest or patience with your overall point or argument.   
    • You have to know when a point is worth fighting for.
      • It can be a seemingly insignificant point.
        • But if it is the first real battle or point, conceding too much on it can set a bad precedent.  For example, if you let your child roll you when he or she is young, he or she might get the impression that they can always roll you.
        • It may seem small in and of itself, but like the fabled butterfly effect, that point may end up being larger in the bigger picture.  For example, if you allow yourself to be bullied by family or a panhandler into giving him a few dollars once, everytime you see him, they may harass you for money everytime you see them and each time it may be more and more money.
      • It is clearly a major point that will have obvious and larger/longer-term implications.  Debating the wisdom of a given tax policy is a good example of this.  If you tax too little, you may not have enough to cover basic services.  If you tax too much, you may discourage people frrom working as hard or trying to start a business.

It is always best to find common ground where possible when dealing with others, but sometimes it is impossible.  It is important however to recognize if what you are fighting for or over is worth it or not.  Don't risk dying on a hill when the larger mountainside is ready to be scaled.  Just as importantly, it is important to not get drawn into an emotional argument where it can be nearly impossible to 'come out on top'.  Whatever you do howeve, don't expect you'll convince many people to conceded their point by attacking or humiliating them.  At the point where an argument or debate gets personal, you've probably already lost the ability to change minds.  But, if you don't care at least be clever in your 'attacks'.  If you are clever enough in your 'attacks', you stand at least a little chance of respect for using your intelligence.

The big takeaway is to keep the larger battle in mind when 'fighting' over a smaller point.