Archive for September, 2014

Tactics in Life: Beware the Weapon of Public Opinion

September 27, 2014 5 comments

Public opinion is one of the deadliest weapons in this day and age.  As a weapon it can be used for both good and evil.  In either case I sometimes question how ethical a weapon it is given that it’s prone to manipulation and abuse.

Public opinion can be used as a weapon for good.  Public shaming is a way to expose the wrong that someone did to the community.  These days it’s common to employ this tactic, largely through the global reach of the Internet.  It puts the target of such an action in the court of public opinion, to be judged by anyone and everyone who cares to have an opinion on whatever it is that the target did or didn’t do that’s wrong.

However public opinion can also be used as a weapon for evil.  Bearing false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16) has never been as easy as it is now.  One can disseminate lies about a target, harming the target through scandal and destroying his reputation through character assassination.  This is especially effective if what the target did or didn’t do is framed in such a way as to pull a nerve, eliciting a strong emotional appeal to the public and swaying people’s opinion to sympathize with whoever will benefit from this and galvanize action against the target.

The one evil that public opinion has a tendency to create is a mob.  The mob will attack you if what you stand for is against popular opinion and is counter-cultural.  For an example of this, look no further than the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general which is constantly under attack for the principles it espouses; sometimes it’s under attack from its own (supposed) adherents.  There is no more any sense of respect for differences of opinion; the world of the mob can be so small and close-minded.  And the mob wins the moment you care about what they have to say and think about you, and you end up censoring yourself to avoid any conflict.

The simplest counter-measure against public opinion is to not care at all.  One secret to happiness is to care only for the things that absolutely matter.  Your time and energy in this world is limited, so any drama that ultimately isn’t important is just a distraction. Focus only on what’s important – care for only what’s important.

Fight public opinion by standing your ground.  If in good conscience you know your position or what you are doing is right, then just continue standing by it and doing it.  Let God be the judge of your actions; ultimately it’s His opinion of you that will only matter in the end.  Be at peace if you know without a shred of doubt that the truth is on your side.  However if you’re actually wrong then be humble enough to concede your error, accept correction and change for the better.  But if you’re right then continue to fight and don’t compromise; don’t let the mob stop you.  Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if you have to die a martyr for what you believe in, then be prepared to do so; the truth will eventually come out, if not in this life then in the next.

If you are so inclined, then another way to fight back your critics is to irritate them some more.  For some people you can never please them (and neither should you attempt to do so) because there’s nothing you can do that ever seems good to them.  Since they’ll always be angry with you anyway, find ways to make them angrier, and have fun watching them stew in their own juices.

How you fight and win in life still matters.  If you must use the weapon of public opinion for a just cause, then please play fair: Ensure you have irrefutable evidence against your target and give him a chance to defend himself if at all possible; preferably do both.  There are always two sides to every story, and it’s only fair that everyone hears both sides and makes their own judgments based on that.

Public opinion can be effective in influencing decisions and forcing action and change; hopefully this is used to bring forth something good.

Right or wrong, justified or not, using public opinion as a weapon is still a form of harassment; use it wisely and only as an absolute last resort, if ever you absolutely need to do so.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

The Imperfect Man

September 13, 2014 6 comments

To have a “perfect track record,” to have everything going right and essentially to always win in life sounds like a good thing – and in all honesty it actually is nice to always win in life.  It’s great when everything is just perfect.  It’s not wrong to aspire and enjoy the easy life.  After all, we’re only human, and it would be a great dishonesty to think that it wouldn’t be in our nature to seek such a life.  However the man whose life is dotted with both wins and losses is the one of ultimately greater value.

Failures teach lessons.  Disappointments build character.  Losses lead to an appreciation of what one still has and a sincere gratitude for whatever one gains.  It’s in the midst of weakness where the hidden blessing of strength can be found, if one is serious enough to work hard enough to find it.

So, between someone who is perfect and seems to have it all versus someone who still has “a lot of work to do,” who is the better man?

He is the one who lives through and suffers his share of trials and losses and comes out not just a survivor but a warrior.  In his own way, he walks in the valleys of the shadows of death (Psalm 23:4) and emerges as one without fear.  His experiences with bitter defeat make his victories even sweeter.

He is the one who is wounded and broken, and thus knows and shows compassion to his fellowmen who are also wounded and broken.  He is also a sinner like everyone else, in constant need of God’s mercy and love for as long as he lives.  He knows how vulnerable he can be.  He weeps because he also gets hurt, sometimes through his own fault, and he acknowledges this.

He is the one who is humble because he knows better than to be proud and let his ego run wild.  He also makes mistakes.  He knows that he doesn’t know everything and will not pretend to know everything; he learns from others.

He is the one who puts himself out there, incurring deep battle scars as a result of learning what works and what doesn’t, and what’s meant to be and what’s not.  The knowledge and experience he gains can never be matched by any instruction from books read in the safety of the classroom.  He is the one that knows firsthand that life is not fair because she’s such a bitch, and just deals with it to the best that he can.

He is the one who ends up wiser in how the world works, stronger in dealing with difficult challenges, more resilient when confronted with pain, and flexible and nimble in the face of constant and disruptive change.

The man that has something to prove will try harder, fight harder and love harder.  The man with angst in his life is the one with more drive in his heart and more fire in his soul.  He is that man who goes through life and gives it everything he’s got.

The imperfect man with an imperfect life is ironically the better man in the end.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy