Posts Tagged ‘listening’

From the Editor’s Perch…

January 12, 2014

Lady Gaga2

Fashion

 

            In the book, Fascism versus Capitalism, Llwellyn Rockwell Jr. mentions the Harvard philosopher, Santayana’s observation “that ideas aren’t usually abandoned because they have been refuted; they are abandoned when they become unfashionable.”  Most people reading this who have tried to introduce an unfashionable notion probably have suffered this observation.  You either find yourself socially isolated.   Or you are made to feel as if you are speaking in a foreign tongue, as if, as a woman at a theater rehearsal once told me (regarding my thoughts):  “I feel as if I am talking to someone from the moon.”  Thoughts judged to be unfashionable are simply left to die alone while conversing to the backs and sides of heads, and thence to float away, detached and withered, into the cold outer reaches.

The most dramatic example I’ve run across of this phenomenon is from the same book as mentioned above.  Henry Hazlitt was an editorial writer for the New York Times from 1934 till 1945 who backed a return to the gold standard.  He was finally sacked for his editorials in opposition to the Breton Woods agreement of 1945 establishing the World Bank.   Hazlitt wrote: “it would be difficult to think of a more serious threat to world stability and full production than the continual prospect of a uniform world inflation to which the politicians of every country would be so easily tempted.”  Throughout his tenure, no one, as far as can be seen, joined him in his warnings.  He could not even generate a credible opposition.  His opposition around the Breton Woods agreement ignored him, claiming a world catastrophe if the measure were not passed.

History has proved Henry Hazlitt correct.  And millions of lives perhaps need not have been lost to the devastations of WWII if the advent of rampant inflation had not been there to fuel the rise of fascist philosophies.  But no matter.  WWII did occur.  The Times has never apologized.  (Don’t hold your breath!)  And Henry Hazlitt lost his job.  John Maynard Keynes ideas appeared to be new.  Henry Hazlitt’s appeared to be old.  To be included in a current conversation you must be perceived to be ‘new’ – otherwise, the argument goes, why have one?   Though there was no factual basis of incompetence for firing Henry Hazlitt, by 1945 the Times publisher,  Arthur Sulzberger, “had had enough.”  “When 43 governments sign an agreement, I don’t see how the Times can any longer combat this,” he said.

 

“How important is sound money?  The whole of civilization depends on it,” says Llewellyn Rockwell.  Nevertheless, fashion trumps it.

 

            If these anecdotes don’t arouse you, then I give up.  I can’t reach you with a sharp pin.

 

But fashion itself is a fascinating topic.  It seems to move and change on its own timeline, without regard for events.  (Which, I would suppose is as we should expect, given its impervious nature.)  In my younger years I lived in a home I’d purchased on the cheap in the Rainier Valley area of Seattle.   This section of Seattle contained (and still does) the most diversified population in terms of race and ethnicity of any area in King County.  While I lived there, gang violence was endemic.  I still remember my neighbor arguing loudly in the middle of our street with his son not to join the gang which was waiting for him on the corner.  I had passed the years watching this decent kid grow from a toddler, to the middle school aged youngster who now apparently had been judged old enough to join the gang.  I also remember a neighborhood friend relating the tale of going to pick up her son at school and having to hug the floor of her car outside of the school to escape the exchange of bullets passing overhead.  Our community and the city government tried this and they tried that.  Then, after it seemed I had given up hope and had moved on anyway, it just ended.  No more violence.  No more gangs on the corner.  And yet everything else was the same.  Same people.  Same laws.  Same police.   Same homes.  Same everything.  Only the people who did that sort of thing, didn’t do it anymore.  As near as I could tell, it just passed out of fashion.

Photo is Lady Gaga from Google Images

Advertisements

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 9, 2013

Editor’s disclaimer:  Just because we talk the talk doesn’t mean we can necessarily walk the walk.  If we all had to be good at what we talk about, not much would get said.

This takes place at the funeral home. BERNICE has angered her other son, BERT, who has decided to bury her in her underwear.

This takes place at the funeral home. BERNICE has angered her other son, BERT, who has decided to bury her in her underwear.

 

Two Guidelines for Relationships

 

These are two nuggets of wisdom, which in my experience, should be fundamental in guiding any relationship – but especially those between men and women.

 

This first was related to me by a psychiatrist years ago.  He said, the secret to dealing with women is to listen to what they say, and then to do what you want.  He said that the way most men get into trouble is that they either listen and don’t do what they want; or they don’t listen and do do what they want.  I believe this advice is also useful when the roles are reversed and for nearly all relationships.  It’s hard to maintain a head of steam when you really listen.  And when the other person won’t listen it’s hard not to get a head of steam.  When a man only does what he’s told, the woman comes to wonder why she needs to be married. And when a man doesn’t listen at all, a woman comes to wonder the same thing.

 

The second guideline is that doing is not listening; listening is listening.  I’ve heard this rule memorialized in a hundred country songs.  Typically the husband is brought around to the fact that he has not paid enough attention to his wife, and so he brings her flowers, buys her a diamond, gets her a dress, buys a bigger house, takes her on a trip…  anything to shut her up.  But he’s still not listening, and the resentment abides.  Or, we’ve seen this rule broken in a numerous families.  The worldly parents either refuse to take the childrens’ concerns seriously, or they don’t take the time to grant the children an audience.  To smooth their feelings, they buy them stuff.  But it doesn’t make matters better.  The parents have alienated their children and taught them to harbor and monetize their grievances.  Each family gathering becomes another trial through which the children receive punitive damages for pain and suffering.

 

Gifts have a long history of being used to shut people up.  Politicians typically greet a hostile crowd bearing gifts.   Explorers offer gifts to native tribes whose lands they are crossing.  Corporations give gifts to the leaders of the nations they exploit.  When the local theater heads finally spoke to the local playwrights, (whose plays they had refused to produce), they came for the sole expressed purpose of offering them ‘opportunities’.  Whenever anyone offers you a gift – especially one you’d like, it makes it bad form to bring up a grievance.  So you contain your bile, and smile.

 

It’s very common for someone to try and make up for some rudeness by doing something for the aggrieved party.  This is fine and good the first couple of times around.  But eventually, it becomes what it is: purchasing the right to treat another person poorly.

 

In my estimation, the best thing to do when you have refused to listen to somebody – is to listen.  That’s it.  That’s all.  All it takes is a little time.  Just listen, and then do what you want.

Photo by Candice Kerwin of scene from a play by Carl Nelson, “Into the Wild Blue Yonder”.


%d bloggers like this: