Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Transcripts are available

Today I want to write about communication, or at least its absence.

A few posts back, I wrote about Fascism. In the post, I included a link to a neat little Flash animation. My estranged wife had stopped by that day shortly after I had posted, and since we share similar political viewpoints, I showed it to her. She, in turn, sent it out to everyone in the address book.

Besides several hundred bounceback messages (OK, how many of YOU keep your address books updated?), I got one from a guy who had hired me for a production. His message:

Sorry, BP, we're Republican so please take us off your list.
Would you rather be blown up? Do we forget so easily?

To which I responded:


My wife sent this to everyone on my mailing list. Go ahead and put your head back in the sand, and keep telling yourself comfortable lies.

Well, it was on. We ping-ponged back and forth for several days. In his pentultimate email, he wrote:

"Take a look at the Iraqi people now. Were they better off under Saddam Hussein? End of that discussion..."

Quite frankly, I was nonplussed. I briefly wondered if I had fallen into some sort of bizarro parallel world. Then I turned into Derrek Lee looking at a hanging curve:

"You're right. End of that discussion, but not in the way you think. Let me ask you--HOW do YOU think it's better? In what way have we improved things? Let's do a side-by-side comparison

Tortured Enemies

Saddam: Yes US: Yes

Innocent People Killed

Saddam: Yes US: Yes (and as far as we can tell, in about the same numbers)

Lack of adequate medical care

Saddam: Yes US: Yes, and perhaps a little bit worse (even Doctors without Borders is leaving due to the high level of danger)

Lack of food

Saddam: Yes US: Yes, but a little better

Sound infrastructure (electricity, water, roads, et c)

Saddam: Yes US: No (They blowed up real good during shock and awe)

Not looking so good, is it? At least under Saddam, they could drive to work and turn their lights on at night.

Now, let's look at one other:



CONGRATULATIONS, GEORGE! You managed to make yourself a bigger monster in the area than the person you displaced!"

I won. Yee-haw.

What did I get out of it? Did I convince someone with my argument? No. Did I do anything to make this world better? No. I just argued. And most likely, lost any chance of working on that sweet gig again.

So I put it to you whose brains are bigger than mine, and whose tempers are slower to flare: How do we convince people? What do we do to get them to open their eyes? How do we heal the rift?



Blogger Phreadom said...

don't feel too bad... I would have taken the same route.

sometimes it's just more worth it to me to drill someone about their ignorance than it is to maintain the possibility of a future relationship of some sort (friend, business, etc).

I still love your blog. ;-) but I do agree that sometimes it's begs the question of how to possibly get it through their thick skulls.

(unfortunately, I have no real solutions to offer either.)

2:01 AM, June 29, 2005  
Anonymous Boni said...

Hey BP,
I think it's always better to be honest about you think.
If we all avoid pointing out the obvious, those who disagree with us will just continue to blithely believe they're right.
However, if our voice of dissent continues and grows
louder-if every day they hear one more person disagree with them, it might ultimately persuade.
Look what's happened with Bush's poll numbers. At one time, he was riding high on the crest of popularity. Now he's tanking. I think people are finally waking up to the sad reality of this administration.
I'm glad you rattled their cage. Keep shaking those bars...

8:10 AM, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Job well done, when faced with facts the neo-con will tell you it'd liberal media bias.

12:46 PM, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

Mr. Yeharr--I enjoy your blog & the moniker, by the way.

The devil is in the details. Can you convince this guy he's wrong about the big picture? Never. But break it down into concrete priorities, and you'd probably be surprised how much you agree.

Ironically, you point out the common ground yourself: respect for human rights, safety, medical care, food, infrastructure, etc.

You asked How do we heal the rift?

Do you mean crossing that line we drew in the sand between self-identified liberals and self-identified conservatives? Or crossing the rift from why-the-hell-did-we-get-into-this-mess to how-the-hell-do-we-get-out?

10:52 PM, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Pogoananda said...

what a painful dilemna.
we shout and shout, or even talk incredible sense - and what good does it do for somebody who's simply living in another dimension - another paradigm - simply seeing an entirely different world than we are?

yesterday, i was talking with an executive about my vision for a film and how i wanted to follow the good example of Spiderman 2. - and she clammed up for a moment, before admitting she'd hated Spiderman 2.

I was shocked and awed.
our conversation quickly degenerated from talking about our project - to a beat by beat deconstruction of Spiderman 2 - much like your side-by-side comparison of pre-and-post Iraq - in which this exec and i found ourselves using EXACTLY THE SAME SCENES as examples of where the film was brilliant or stupidity incarnate.

there was no winning.
we hadn't seen different films. but we'd seen it through different lenses, with different life histories and books of knowledge.
there was simply no way to communicate our visions of the world.
painful dilemna.

I'm reading a great new book called Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. There's a line in it I read last night, that goes along the lines of this:

“Times are, you say a person’s beliefs aren’t true, they think you’re saying their lives aren’t true – their truth isn’t true.”

True ‘nuff.
But i like what a commenter said above, that if we all keep saying the truth as we see it – eventually the din of number of voices will hit a tipping point. and the truth will become the Truth.


2:20 PM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

very nice point, Joshua. As for BP's point, he raises a great problem. Alice Miller, in her book "For Your Own Good" brings up the connection to child rearing and personal/political beliefs (part of her treatise was to try and explain how a modern industrialized nation with well educated citizens became Hitler's Germany). Her conclusion, child rearing that was "stern father" model, and refused to allow a child's voice, emotions, allowed for no criticism of the mentor and was literally designed to "break the child's will", created an adult unable to oppose/criticize the stern father model in his/her life, whether it be the cruel boss, the dominating spouse, or the stern leader of the country. It's interesting that Focus on the Family and other extreme right sects are proponents of strict child rearing, even saying hitting with "a spoon" to establish discipline is okay. Can it all be boiled down to something this simple? That those reared in a certain way are unable to oppose an oppressive authority figure, because on some unconscious level they fear that if they do they will be abandonded by love? Hard to say, but it is fascinating that those who need the world that is "black and white" in its simplicity seem to be the ones who don't want to question authority. I wonder if there is a connection. The solution? Aside from a massive 100 million strong group therapy session, I'm afraid I'm at a loss. Perhaps it may be enough to show that the black and white are illusions and lies, and this, like Boni said, is done by the continued rattling of cages and the refusal to break down. As BP said to me the other day, "pressure points, Philly, hit the pressure points and they'll fall like a house of cards."

3:12 PM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger ticharu said...

Great posts. Can you entertain a third point of view?
I am niether right or left. I think the situation is utterly hopeless, there is no fixing it, sure the rebublicans are evil. So are the democrats. I'm not aware of any group with a solution to the big picture problem. We have simply jumped off the cliff as a group and as we smash up on the bottom there is the chance that the survivors will be too busy trying to grow some food to involve themselves with globalization.

5:55 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Hooray! Hooray for hopelessness! Hooray!


8:28 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger That Dude said...

Shit like this usually works both ways. I'm currently in a communication with some peeps who are Dems and they're only comment is "well u voted for Bush that shows your stupidity", no facts or dat etc.

Using my official thumb in the air analysis, I would surmise there are stupid people on both sides of the aisle.

9:17 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger "Radical" Russ said...

So I put it to you whose brains are bigger than mine, and whose tempers are slower to flare: How do we convince people? What do we do to get them to open their eyes? How do we heal the rift?

There may not be anything we can do. I feel that there are some war hawks who are now starting to wake up to the truth, but they're so committed to their position that they cannot back down without losing face.

But your email ping-pongs look a lot like mine. I love playing with the righties. I don't care if I convince them a bit, because in arguing with them, I serve to convince myself even more.

The old saying is "never try to teach a pig to sing; it just wastes your time and annoys the pig." Me, I'm not teaching, I'm just singing my half of the duet.

2:28 PM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger dusty said...

its one thing to have a discussion, entirely another to argue with someone..especially a thick-headed bushie that can only spout the company line and not really SAY anything..2 second sound bites are all they are good for..they can not give you examples because there ARE none on their side..
whats that old saying..."think he's lying?".."are his lips moving?"the bushies continue to blind us with bullshit rhetoric that can not stand up to the glare of daylight..

11:26 PM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Can I warn anyone who thinks that turning up your palms and shrugging your shoulders and saying: "They all suck" is the best course of action, that apathy never gets you any where and best to get up, stand up and do something than feel all over come by the pointlessness of it all.

We got a fight on our hands.

11:50 AM, July 02, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Pound them with facts.

6:56 PM, July 02, 2005  
Blogger ticharu said...

My solution was to get up, leave the city, set up a subsistence level small farm and watch the collapse from a safe distance.
The thick skulls I observe are those who believe the industrial revolution was a sustainable event.
We do have a fight on our hands. It's a personal fight for survival which I think about 4 billion people are going to loose in the next ten years. I really hope that I am wrong, but the numbers are not encouraging, and the politicians are as much slaves to this bloated corrupt system as the rest of us.
When and how it collapses is a matter of useless debate. What we should do as thoughtful people? That is a good question. You are all thoughtful people and the last thing I want to do is offend anyone. I think these discussions are good, and I'm glad to have found some bloggers who are thinking.

4:23 PM, July 05, 2005  

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