What’s the Hurry? Take a Deep Breath.. and Reset the Rhetoric

I’ve been thinking about the urge to speed to reach conclusions that occurs in the present day, and perhaps is part of the media subculture at present.  Again, there is a depressing book worth reading on this called “Trust Me, I’m Lying”  by Ryan Holiday. But for a new better thing to be born, sometimes the old thing has to be broken; both are part of the cycle of progression.

Let’s take a few examples. We discussed the arrest of the Burn Boss a few weeks ago, during which The Hotshot Wakeup Person urged us to “take a deep breath” and wait until the facts surface. For many fire reviews, we wait months to get the After Action Report. There’s an old quote “truth is the friend of time.”

I was suggesting this to a person on Twitter, and they responded “what, and hold it (my breath), until Election Day?”. Which I thought was funny.

And here we are,  it’s Election Day. Our President is worried (or says he is, who knows?) about democracy.  I’m not.

“Academic experts” are trying to predict the future to a degree of detail.. (more than 2?) that sounds pretty specific.

According to the most recent Bright Line Watch survey, American Democracy on the Eve of the 2022 Midterms, academic experts see a roughly 75 percent chance that more than two high-profile Republican candidates, running for national or statewide offices in the midterm elections, may refuse to concede an election loss.

They did a survey of experts in October to predict what will happen in November. Again, what’s the hurry? What’s the argument for attempting to predict versus waiting and seeing?

Here’s my view.  No matter what happens, the great machinery of elections and our system of governance will muddle through with all its inefficiencies and unnecessary drama- not new, as we know or unique to the 21st century.  If R’s take over, they are likely to waste time in unnecessary finger pointing exercises, but what party should be casting stones here? There will be lots of hearings and lots of witnesses and occasionally a good thing will get through (e.g. GAOA, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill).

We can all check in with our predictions in two years.

The Secretary General of the UN said yesterday:

And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.

If tipping points didn’t exist, they would have to be invented.  Unpredictable bad things can happen with climate, for sure.  But not-predicted (or predicted by less-important in currently less-preferred disciplines) bad things can also happen outside of climate, including worldwide pandemics and wars among countries with nuclear capabilities- which, of course, have impacts on climate.

Here are my observations:

  • People will trust their own observations over any level of rhetoric.
  • If you want to win over people, don’t tell them that they are stupid, malevolent, or ignorant, or that their own experiences are unimportant.
  • People who speak or act histrionically perhaps think that they are mobilizing people to act.
  • In reality, they are triggering hatred, fear, depression and anxiety in people who believe them.
  • And mistrust from people who don’t, who either ignore them or react.
  • And if the people who don’t believe them react, they are targeted by more rhetoric, and so a negative cycle continues.


But it can’t continue forever, as “the end of democracy” and “the end of the world” is pretty much.. well… the end.

So I propose that those with access to major media take a step back, take a deep breath, and tone it down. Because you might be making things worse instead of better. About the very things you say you care about.

For the rest of us:

What are your predictions?

Happy Election Day, everyone!

8 thoughts on “What’s the Hurry? Take a Deep Breath.. and Reset the Rhetoric”

  1. In the grand scheme of things, this too will pass and life will go on, even with the looming nuclear war, yes, things will change, but isn’t that what always happens? Those who survive, will work and prosper. It is what we humans do! It’s in our genes! Prepare for what you can, and accept the things you cannot!
    Life will go on, with or without you!

  2. A handful of quotes to think of when filling out your ballots:

    “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.” – H L Mencken

    “Only those who do not seek power are qualified to hold it.” – Plato

    “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare

    “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” – Vladimir Lenin

    “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

    “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” – John F Kennedy

    “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” – Milton Friedman

    “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Alighieri

    “Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.” – Mao Zedong

    “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman

    • And we have to add our very own GIfford Pinchot”. It is a greater thing to be a good citizen than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat.”

      Gifford Pinchot

  3. Sharon, I appreciate what you are saying here – your intentions are good, but…. I wish I could have your optimism concerning democracy in this country. I recently read a short history on the rise of fascism in Italy during the Moussolini years. There are many parallels in this country right now including a rise in politically motivated violence. Here is an analysis with suggestions for actions concerning the increase of violence in the US and why it is happening. https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/the-rise-of-political-violence-in-the-united-states/?campaign_id=39&emc=edit_ty_20221103&instance_id=76415&nl=opinion-today&regi_id=76765500&segment_id=111888&te=1&user_id=9411e25c319e31f512b8acf5ffe2018f#f2

    Per your observations:

    “People will trust their own observations over any level of rhetoric.” That simply isn’t true and there is a plethora of research that proves it is wrong. In fact, what happens is the rhetoric “informs” people how they should interpret their observations. The rise in and effectiveness of dissemination of misinformation and its effectiveness should be enough evidence all by itself to help you understand your statement is incorrect.

    “People who speak or act histrionically perhaps think that they are mobilizing people to act.” It depends on who is saying it. And the bullets that followed this one pretty much sums up how it impacts people, except I would emphasize how it can incite violence. A January 6, 2021 incident comes to mind as well as many others….

    While your point about telling others they are ignorant won’t change minds, like it or not, political ignorance runs rampant in this country because many people don’t pay attention and many others only pay attention to one side. There are many scholars worried about the possibility we are losing our democracy in this country. You may remember that several media outlets carried this story back in 2021 https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2021/06/01/more-than-100-scholars-issue-warning-that-american-democracy-is-in-danger-call-for-federal-reforms/?sh=530259a926f7

    More recently there is this: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2022/11/where-are-we-going-america/

    Happy election day back at you. Regardless of the outcome of these midterms, I’m hoping for the best for this country but planning for the worst.

  4. Thanks for the bit of calmness.

    A few responses:

    “attempting to predict versus waiting and seeing” is too binary IMO. There are other options for those of us who already predict bad outcomes: work to prevent or ameliorate them. You don’t have to convince people that we’re in the throes of the Sixth Extinction to work for policies and actions to mitigate it.

    “People will trust their own observations over any level of rhetoric” seems a bit off-point to me. People are not trusting their own observations as much as they’re trusting lying rhetoricians. Watch a few clips of people still claiming the 2020 election was “stolen” They are not basing this belief on their own observations. Social media content is not “their own observations.”

    “don’t tell them that they are stupid, malevolent, or ignorant, or that their own experiences are unimportant” is good advice. However, the weak point is figuring out how to convince the truly ignorant that there is better information available, or to at least to entertain the notion that perhaps there are other perspectives that are more informed by and consistent with reality. I’d appreciate some guidance on this one.

  5. Thanks, everyone for these thoughts. You raise good questions. I will reflect and be back to this topic on Friday. I think it’s super-important, but doesn’t get discussed as much as we might like; we may be talking past each other.


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