Thursday, January 17, 2008

politispeak or peacepower

i was watching matt lauer on the today show this morning, interviewing the treasury secretary about the economy. i noticed that the guy speaking on behalf of the government used specific language, all of which is very general. in response to questions like, "will there be rebates for the lower and middle classes?" the secretary gives a long and carefully-worded answer used carefully-worded sentences that didn't really say anything - they affirmed without promising, said yes without saying yes, acknowledged without committing.
i was put off by this, and then i remembered: human beings are sometimes really obtuse. dense. stupid. myopic. whatever.
i listen to talk radio for a couple of minutes at a time driving to and from the warehouse. what strikes me is how callers pick up on one little piece of information or a part of someone's opinion and focus on that. they go off. they lose track. they wander. they get the wrong impression. it happens all the time.
in which case, sadly, politicians who are in power (as opposed to candidates seeking power, who can be much more forthright and confrontational - until they get power) do have to watch what they say - or else people will just go off, get the wrong idea, cause trouble, holler, say you said things you didn't say.
this used to scare me. i used to worry that people would take what i say the wrong way. that i might upset someone, or someone might disagree with me and misunderstand. what if they try to take my power?
as i've gotten older, i've realized that nobody can take my power if i don't give it to them. and i don't have to be afraid that they'll take my power away, because what they often want is just to have someone listen and help them think something through. or just vent.yes, i still don't want people to go off on things that aren't the point for me. and yet - if i'm in relationship with that person, i want to listen. and be in community with that person. all they want is to be listened to. and when it's time for me to go on to the next thing, moment, experience, concern i have, i can just say so.
this used to scare me. it still does, sometimes. but i'm learning that i don't think i have to fix it. unlike a politician or CEO or whatever else, it's not about power
over - it's about power within. clarity. peace. perspective. intention.


Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about the same thing. I've concluded that one of the principal ways I give away my power is by not telling the truth... no, more accurate to say "by telling lies." There is the bad decision I make -- more or less 50-50 -- but then there is the lying.
I thought about original sin. How much different it is if Adam and Eve simply say, "Uh God, we screwed up and ate the apple and now we are naked". Instead, they do exactly what I do and come up with the bit about the talking snake, and blame the woman, and then, with all that drama and turmoil built up, they have to run and hide -- in your terms, they have given up their power.
I don't know if there is or can be anything of God in politics. But it does seem like we see a lot of the original sin story over and over in the various capital cities -- just like in my household. How there is this bad decision or that bad decision and then the spin begins. I do think it would be refreshing if some leader stood up and said, "I have screwed up. I'm doing the best I can. There are a lot of things I don't know, so if anyone has a better idea, please let me know." What would the political dialogue be like then?

Melinda Hasting said...

Amen. There's power in silence. There's power in the ironic.

CoachPeacock said...

I think people have different sets of ears. When people listen to politicians speak, they will listen to the 'fine' print in their responses. When people listen to a comedian, the listeners tend to look beyond the details towards the punchline. When people are listening to a teacher, pastor, or mentor, they listen to the spirit of the words that are being spoken. I think, even as checked out as people get with politics and policy, they still will pick up on the symantecs of the conversation because the know those same details can/will be used against them.

Thats my 'siphosily'. :)

Anonymous said...

I listen to a few talk show people with great interest politics, the economy, and human relations. The best piece of advice he gives is this.

Do believe anything you hear unless you already know it to be true?

There are few people in the business of politics, media, entertainment that will speak absolute truth without omission, vagueness, or politcal correctness. They always have something to sell; first themselves, then the ideas that keep them secure. It is rare to find someone who will risk their existance for the greater good and to do the right thing.

Melinda Hasting said...

The weird thing is that politics, or the ability to influence public policy and opinion, *should* create power. The opposite seems to be true: When influential, fear drives every word you say so you don't lose your influence. It renders you, eventually, powerless.