Saturday, January 29, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Warriors, soldiers, every last person worthy of the name has voluntarily put themselves in a position where they can be ordered to do something they know or believe will get them killed. And they do it. It’s not simply the risk of death. Any ass-hat that commutes to work can rightly claim that he risks death every day on the road. And there’s no selfish choice in it. You don’t get to pick only leaders you respect or to only obey orders you agree with.
That means a cherry lieutenant can give you an order to watch a street or hold a passage or take point and you will do it, even if it leaves you vulnerable. If the brand new team leader comes up with an entry plan and the plan is shit, you don’t get to say ‘no’ (there may or may not be a time for input). It becomes your responsibility to make the shitty plan work. To not die and not let others get killed, to the extent of your ability. But one person too arrogant to accept any plan except his own endangers everybody.
If you have never been in that circumstance, not only have you not earned even the basic, apprentice level of the title ‘warrior’ but I doubt that you can really discuss it with any intelligence, understanding or even integrity. That’s my opinion.
Heroes, heroism and heroics came up recently. It was in the context of thinly-veiled tribalism: "My side is heroic, that side is evil."
As I listened, it struck me that the named ‘heroes’ risked being called bad names and missing out on huge commissions... and that’s about it.
My definition of hero is pretty simple- someone who risks his or her own life to help other people. Not risking inconvenience. Not risking hurt feelings. Risk your life. If, barring the occasional crazy and road accidents, people or circumstances don’t try to kill you, the heroism label is off the table.
And there is no heroism in fighting only for yourself. Survivors, whether of assault or cancer, are not heroic. They are alive, and that is worthy of admiration enough… but any biological entity, even a worm, will struggle to survive.
That one hits a personal button with me, because I have known many brave and tough survivors and I do admire them… but they had no choice in the fight. Immense choice in how they fought, but no choice in the fight.
To make an analogy, running into a burning building to save someone would be heroic. Running out of a burning building to avoid dying (like seeking treatment for a horrible disease) is simple common sense. Almost a biological imperative.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Two ideas here that I feel might form a matrix. They might explain a lot. I’ve already mentioned that increasing self-esteem increases violence in violent people. Somewhere in the soup of reasons and justifications that leads to violence, the simple belief “I am more worthy than you” plays a part. It not only makes sense, it’s demonstrable.
In the upcoming book (available for pre-order, BTW) I talk about 'othering'. The more different you can convince yourself an enemy is, the easier it is to hurt or kill. That’s the basis of war propaganda. It is also important to note that in people raised tribally (my tribe are real people, everyone else is not) not only are the levels of violence between tribes sometimes horrific, but there seems to be no PTSD associated with such violence (See “Machete Season”).
Raise the self-esteem and you raise the perceived value and increase the perceived differences between people. Is it any wonder that it makes violent people more violent?
There is another factor, though. In Conflict Communications, one of the things that we noticed is that insecurity, especially in leaders, also correlates with violence. It’s one of those stupid monkey things: a leader is in a leadership position. When he starts losing respect or personal authority, he becomes more aggressive. Maybe he just gets louder. Maybe he beats one of his lieutenants to death at a dinner party (Al Capone, anyone?)
It is almost universal- it is almost like the monkey brain demands it- even though, from the audience point of view, it is a loser. You get a boss screaming and acting out you KNOW he is on the way down. We call this ‘losing it’ for a reason.
Despite the fact that we know acting out decreases our audience's belief in our authority, we still do it. Why? Because the emotional brain doesn’t distinguish between signs of submission. You’re doing a good job and people follow your orders and say, “Yes sir!” and salute, your monkey brain feels secure. You act like an ass and people start scurrying and not meeting your eyes and saying, “Yes sir!”… your monkey brain feels secure.
So here’s the interaction between self-esteem and insecurity if I am reading this right—and why some of the modern philosophies will backfire.
If you raise the self-esteem based on nothing, whether ‘everyone passes’ or ‘everyone’s a winner’ when you take away the possibility of failure to “program for success” you do succeed in raising self esteem. But every last person involved, knows that the self-esteem isn’t based on anything. It is inherently insecure. Insecure but high self-esteem is a recipe for violence.
The policies are well intentioned. And they are cheap. Telling kids they’re awesome is fast and costs nothing. Teaching them to become awesome takes time and effort. And there will be some failures.
Maybe it’s time for a change in language. How about self esteem based on actual accomplishment should be labeled self-respect?