I’m not perfect (like you didn’t know that already) - throughout my life, I’ve done a number of things wrong – too large a percentage to ignore, in fact. Even if you engage in the wrong behaviors, you need to do what you can to help promote the right ones.
Before I go further into this, let me make this perfectly clear: I am NOT advocating people deliberately going out and doing the wrong thing. At all times we should be trying to live the right way – do what we know is right, avoid what we know is wrong – but we are not angels, we are HUMAN BEINGS, and so we have to deal with the fact that we are all IMPERFECT.
We have to recognize that we are going to fail at times, but we still need to make the right impression for the sake of society. It is best if you have actual SUBSTANCE (truth, facts) behind the impression you are making, but for the sake of whatever relationship you are in (Job, Marriage, Parenting, Leadership, Politics, Foreign Relations, what have you), you must at least know how to use the right SYMBOLISM.
This is something that seems to have become lost in our 24-by-7 news cycle, everything out in the open society. No one seems to have an understanding that
1. Everything you do can be seen by others.
This is because: lies are impossible to maintain forever (no matter how expert you think you are or how many people help you do it, inconsistencies will seep through), and nothing is private (not in public places, not in your mailbox, not in your trash can, and certainly not on the internet.)
2. It isn’t uplifting to see humanity’s (and especially our role-models’) warts – it lowers all spirits rather than elevating anyone.
Think of the abundance of “reality TV” that’s out there – some of it is just plain ugly (like the Jerry Springer show on steroids), but even the ones that try to display us at our best tend to also emphasize the warts. The subliminal message that’s delivered here is “why should I try to do the best or right thing when no one else does?”
We get a lot of negative guidance from political figures (who should REALLY understand the importance of impressions since it’s a MAJOR PART OF THEIR PROFESSION.) We’ve had a couple of recent presidents who have promoted doing the wrong thing and then doubling down by publicly lying about it (and yes, I’m talking about the last 2 Democrats to hold the office; a Republican doesn’t generally get the cover from the press or even his own party to be so blatantly dishonest. Heck, George W. was branded as a liar by people who can’t even be honest about what the meaning of “lie” is - or of what the meaning of “is” is, for that matter.) This isn’t discouraged in the least by a citizenry that more and more thinks “Well, what do you expect? All politicians lie.”
3. We are all role models.
That last one probably has a lot of you scratching their heads. How can I say that, when even “certifiable” role models (celebrities, sports figures, etc.) complain that they shouldn’t be treated as such? But they are, no matter how much they protest.
And so are all of us. Whether individually, or cumulatively, what we decide to proudly publicize of our own failings, what we decide to label as okay “because everyone does it” makes a difference. Folks: two, or 300 million, or 6 billion people doing the wrong thing doesn’t make it right, and sticking your head in the sand doesn’t either.
Let’s go back and look at the line I wrote in the 2nd paragraph, specifically the phrase “let me make this perfectly clear”; for those of us who experienced Watergate, this phrase has a particular connotation tied to lying and cheating – in essence, you will get the sense somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind that you can’t trust the veracity of whatever this person says next (even if you aren’t old enough to know what Watergate means, I believe this phrase has seeped into our POP CULTURE enough to hold that connotation.)
I DELIBERATELY chose this wording to illustrate a point about making impressions – you need to be aware of how things appear. Our current president, choosing to illustrate instead, his own tone-deafness, has chosen to use several variants of this (“let’s be clear”, “I want to be clear”, etc.) so frequently that it should probably be followed by a ™ mark. If you’re trying to get people to believe you, this is not the phrase you should use (especially if you already have an honesty deficit operating against you.)
We all need to be aware of the impressions we are pushing.
What does it tell your kids if you don’t make a point of impressing them with the difference between right and wrong? How do you expect them to try if you behave as though it doesn’t really matter? I know we live in a world where “Do as I say, not as I do” is considered a joke; still, there’s still value in in at least saying the right things. But you have to go beyond that – you need to act the role as well.
What does it tell people if you say something is heinous or unforgivable and won’t be tolerated, but then you don’t do anything serious about it (or, worse, yet, you show how important it is by continuing your perpetual vacation)? Do these lines in the sand have any real meaning? Why would your adversary (or anyone else) treat it as important if you don’t either? Why would anyone take you seriously.
You can’t write everything in washable paints. They may be great for your kids to use around the house, but they don’t leave much of an impression (they’re designed to go away, you know – we use them when we’re afraid people are going to make mistakes – when we’re afraid to commit.) If you want to show that you’re serious, act like it. Maybe you should use permanent markers instead.
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication: “The Wolves Will Come”) can be found in many places, such as:
- His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
- Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
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