Mailvox: self-reflection

So long as one doesn’t overdo it and turn it into navel-gazing, self-reflection is always a good habit even when one doesn’t necessarily like what one sees:

Observing you stick to your position on Trump over the last several weeks, I learned something about myself; which was not good.

What I saw you doing was staking out a reasoned position and then sticking to it.  Neither the naysayers, backstabbers, fair-weather fans, trolls or “new friends” caused you to change your position.  You stayed true, until events played themselves out.

Watching all of this, I realized that I have a tendency to either succumb to external pressure and/or hedge my position in my mind.  This was evidenced by many conversations where I would say what I “hoped” would happen with Trump, but then equivocate by saying what I was “afraid” would happen.

Watching you stand firm eventually made me realize that equivocating is nothing but weakness or fear expressing itself.  I then realized this has been a pattern of mine.  It is much better to take a stand, then stick to that position with everything you have.

It became clear why taking a stand is better: by being firm, you are more likely to engage in actions to bring about that position.  By equivocating, it is far less likely you will put the effort into something you are afraid may not work out, even if you hope you are wrong.

I’m tired of equivocating and making excuses.  Thank you for demonstrating what “taking a stand” looks like.  You doing so over such a major issue, in the face of intense criticism, made it possible for me to see my own flaws. The interesting thing is that making a personal change like this requires the same steadfastness in order to succeed.

Admittedly, I happen to have an advantage over the reader, in that I genuinely don’t care what most people think. But the important thing is to understand that emotions, internal or externally imposed, don’t improve one’s analysis. The syllogism doesn’t care how you feel about it. The facts are what they are.

The reader is entirely right to dismiss self-centered equivocation. Saying one “fears” x but “hopes” y is merely autopsychological posturing meant to avoid the possibility of future criticism for being unable to predict the future with 100 percent accuracy. But no one ever has and no one can, so don’t worry about it. Run your best analysis as dispassionately as you can, stick with it, and you’ll be correct more often than not.

Note that even the correct contextual version of the famous Zhou Enlai quote is relevant to everyone’s questions about President Trump.

The impact of the French Revolution? “Too early to say.”

Thus did Zhou Enlai – in responding to questions in the early 1970s about the popular revolt in France almost two centuries earlier – buttress China’s reputation as a far-thinking, patient civilisation. The former premier’s answer has become a frequently deployed cliché, used as evidence of the sage Chinese ability to think long-term – in contrast to impatient westerners.

The trouble is that Zhou was not referring to the 1789 storming of the Bastille in a discussion with Richard Nixon during the late US president’s pioneering China visit. Zhou’s answer related to events only three years earlier – the 1968 students’ riots in Paris, according to Nixon’s interpreter at the time.

What part of “The Ride Never Ends” don’t you understand? We won’t win every skirmish. We won’t even win every battle. But we will win the war.