Daily Bread for 8.1.22: Two Postures, Two Results

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 81. Sunrise is 5:47 AM and sunset 8:14 PM for 14h 27m 41s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 13% of its visible disk illuminated. 

 Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM

 On this day in 1774, British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

Different people in a community play different roles, in different ways, although this is hard for some to understand.

Not every resident is  — and in a free society need be — the same. For many years, and occasionally even now, people will ask why a libertarian blogger who writes about government is not a member of the government. They are serious when they ask; in asking, they assume there is one community role that everyone should hold if they wish to speak about the community.

How odd, that some who hold diversity as a value do not recognize diversity and individuality in community roles. 

And so, and so, while a libertarian may choose to write, and a choose to maintain a certain personal distance from events (all the better to see clearly), it does not mean that he or she cannot grasp how speaking, on camera particularly, is more or less effective depending on the atmosphere of the moment. Indeed, it may turn out that some of those libertarians are quite comfortable speaking, but choose against that role. It’s easier to assess an environment when one does not become the center of attention.

A simple truth, however cynical it sounds: the camera or an audience makes a huge difference. A confrontation off-camera is nowhere as meaningful to the public as a confrontation on-camera. It’s not simply that more people might see an on-camera confrontation; it’s that people perceive on-camera confrontations differently.

This brings me to a discussion of speaking in contentious political environments. When the atmosphere is hostile (but obviously not violent), for example, it’s better to lean toward others, to engage. That’s often uncomfortable, but it reaps rewards for presenter.

Consider the following two photographs, and imagine each person as an official speaking to the community before an agitated audience.  

A serious man at his desk: 

He is serious, entrenched behind his desk, waiting to deal with complaints. He’s already accepted he’ll receive a critical reception in which he needs a barrier between himself and others.

In response, one should start in a neutral tone and demeanor, assessing the strength of his responses. If he responds convincingly, then one engages in a dialogue, but there’s no more to be had. If, however, his responses are unconvincing, one can escalate argumentatively (always while controlled and avoiding overreach) knowing that this man offers only unpersuasive replies while locked into a defense physical position that makes him look either aloof or anxious. If he fails in his responses, he’s opened himself up by words and posture to others’ escalation.

Now consider a second photo.

The caption says she’s confident, and that’s an apt description. She’s subtly inviting in expression and boldly confident in posture. Her audience might be critical, but if it is, then she’s meeting them with sangfroid. Perhaps she was behind a desk, but then came forward when she thought that the discussion might become heated.

In response to her posture, one should reasonably begin and stay conversational in speech and relaxed in manner. A combination of neutral, straightforward, or even occasionally teasing and playful remarks might be in order, but no more. Deep sarcasm would be unsuited to the exchange. Her confidence in posture, if matched with confidence in replies (even replies that are unsatisfying to others), assures her something like a draw, at a minimum, in any confrontation. There is no chance, none whatever, that anger or hostility would carry the day with someone as confident as this woman appears.

When off-camera with people who are evidently excuse-making, wrong-headed, or indolent, how they position themselves or how others respond matter less. (Honestly, some officials in these settings could use more, not less, criticism.) 

In a public meeting, however, everyone is under the gaze of an audience and a camera. In that setting, demeanor and suitable responses to that demeanor matter a great deal. Not all, but much, can be won or lost by getting one’s public presentation right in address or in critical reply.

Planets, Perseids and Cygnus in Aug. 2022 skywatching guide:

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1 year ago

[…] I’ve no personal like or dislike in any of this. It is with disappointment but candor that one writes that Whitewater, especially the district, has become a place of chronic contention between factions. Of personal contention, there need to be repeated, official attempts at reconciliation in public settings. Of political contention, however, a different approach is required. There’s firm and cold, but beyond that there’s nothing worth trying. See The Populists’ Dominance-and-Submission Ritual and Two Postures, Two Results. […]

1 year ago

Wise consideration for public interactions.