No Question, It’s Personal

joe —  Sat 15-Jan-11 — 3 Comments
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Dear Martin,

MLK.pngI was thinking about you this past week, being your birthday and all and wanted to thank you for one of the many great life lessons you taught me.

You once wrote

The nonviolent resister does not seek to humiliate or defeat the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding…The nonviolent resister seeks to attack the evil system rather than individuals who happen to be caught up in the system.

While I love the concept and try very hard to incorporate it into my life, it has been a struggle. I still fail often despite my best intentions.

The problem is that it is so much easier to muster up the energy to fight a bad idea when I can put an enemy in front of it. Hating an idea is so much easier when I can see Glenn Beck or Bill Maher’s face. It’s personal then and when it gets personal I have more fight in me.

Heck, just this week I heard Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets talk about his upcoming game against the New England Patriots

Jets vs Patriots.png

“This is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan. There’s no question it’s personal.”

Of course I think Rex is a big wind-bag and would enjoy nothing more than to see the look on his face after getting clobbered by anyone. Ooops – best intentions be damned.

I was wondering what talk radio would be like if they weren’t allowed to disclose names but only ideas. How popular do you think Sean Hannity would be without Nancy Pelosi or Alan Colmes without Dick Cheney?

Dr Evil.pngAt my last company we always seemed to rise to greater heights when the CEO would target a competitor or their CEO as an enemy combatant. That person must fail if we were going to win. They were standing between us and putting food on the table for our children. We even had mock funerals for them when they failed.

Evil seems a lot easier to manage when I believe someone is evil. We Christians take great delight in knowing that one day Satan will get his comeuppance. Would evil be a whole lot harder to battle if we couldn’t pin it on the devil?

Dr. King, how did you overcome this? Can you honestly say that during marches you didn’t see the face of Sheriff Clark or feel a need to squash Governor Wallace? Was your quote an aspirational one for you or was it truly your nature? It sure seems like you would have had to overcome a very basic, human instinct.

As natural as it is for me to want to attach my frustration and anger on an enemy I still know that deep down inside you were right. The enemy is the idea. When I can fully realize that success comes at the defeat of the idea and not the emotional comfort I get from defeating someone I will have truly comprehended what you taught.

Yet I still fail often despite my best intentions.

Ever trying,

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  • paul

    throughout history, ‘leaders’ unite their followers by defining a ‘common enemy’ whether real or invented. such as… the [former] soviet union (or ‘evil empire’), iraq / saddam hussein, ‘terrorists’, ‘big business’, the ‘rich’, and on and on…
    the most truly evil, corrupt, or just insane ‘leaders’ (dictators, megalomaniacs, etc.) rule by putting everyone in some negative category or other, so people can’t figure out what they are, but vehemently state what they aren’t. this state of fear and confusion has worked over and over, but has only lead to violence, death, and mass suffering.

    a word about our former CEO – i think his greatness was in doing it (talking about the competition) in ‘fun’ – he never made them out to be evil people. he respected his competitor, but continued to emphasize (and exaggerate for morale) our advantages over them, to great positive effect. our former CEO (in the startup/middle phase while i was there at least) was always respectful, always energetic, always fun, always challenging to do more without criticism, and praising… he was… outstanding!

    • Joe Kleinwaechter

      As usual Paul, great thoughts.
      I think it’s ok and actually good to have an opponent, much like our former CEO did. While I am a big fan of his, there were a couple of times that I thought he made me wonder if this wasn’t more personal. It’s when there is more satisfaction in defeating the person than what they stand for that becomes the line for me. I think 99% of the time is was truly just theatrics. The danger with that is to make sure everyone knows and understands that.

      Like Al Qaeda for example. We could take out 5 of their top brass and do far more damage to the organization than we ever could taking down Osama Bin Laden. Yet I would be willing to bet that a significant part of the population would trade that in exchange for capturing Bin Laden.

  • Carol

    The secret I use is to focus on what I like, and avoid what I don’t like. You always have the choice in the thoughts you think, so I choose to find the part of the idea/concept that I like and focus on that. Make a game of trying to find the things you like where you don’t expect to find them. It’s really fun when you find somethng you like where you never expected it.