Monday, January 30, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Action and reaction

Which is more powerful, positive, and future-building?

By Vic Midyett

Political correctness – why does any government think this is its mandate?
    Political correctness has become completely ridiculous in society, stifling discussion and even pushing truth aside. It serves my purpose to quote a definition that some anonymous person wrote: “Political correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and promoted by a sick mainstream media, that holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.”

    Nevertheless, it was political correctness that first got me pondering the question of action and reaction.

I recall when America decided it was more politically correct to call members of the “black” population “African Americans.” A friend of mine, while conducting a survey, had needed to visit such a community. He reported that one household said, “We are not African Americans; we are Black Americans.” The next house had the opposite response, “We are not Black Americans; we are African Americans.” Both, at the time, took it as an insult to be called the other – a quandary at best. Now, I am led to believe, “African American” is the commonly accepted term.
    What about rednecks? What about bogans (Australian rednecks)? Or chinks? Or japs, wops, or dagos? I better stop. Some react insulted to someone’s taking the action of using one of these terms, and they show it in their reaction of disdain and anger. However, some take a different reactionary view, which, in my opinion, flows on to a better good, goes forward to completely defuse the situation. They accept it. They perhaps even wear it with pride. When this reaction is chosen, where does it leave the person that started the action of labeling? Answer – nowhere. The person doing the labeling is completely defused. And the confrontation may end with both individuals chuckling about it. At worst, the one doing the labeling walks away. Either outcome is a good societal going forward, and a positive result, don’t you think?
    Because I am accused, in more then one country, of speaking my mind, I have taken a Tai Chi approach to being labeled. For instance, if someone calls me crazy, stupid, nuts, weird, or whatever (and they do), I reply with “Thanks! [and a big smile].” The potential confrontation ends. And it’s so much fun! No, it is not mean. It is using time and energy wisely.
    Is the answer in these situations an attitude of acceptance of ourselves and a respectful tolerance of others? If it is in fact that simple, is it then just a matter of self-honesty and willingness? Dare I say, a loving reaction? I think perhaps it is.

A story was recounted  in Tuesday’s Correspondence column of a passenger in a taxi that came close to being hit by another car whose driver yelled abuses at the taxi driver even though he was clearly in the wrong. The passenger observed the taxi driver’s reaction in amazement because all he did was smile and wave at the wrong doer.
    The passenger queried the taxi driver’s reaction in disbelief, as the other driver was clearly to blame and his actions with it.
    The taxi driver explained that

many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointments. As and when their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you.
    Don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.
    Life is 10% the actions you encounter, and 90% how you react to them.
    Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. the people who treat you right. Pray for or just dismiss the ones who don’t.
    The taxi driver’s advice made a very big impact on me personally. I wish for all of us to learn how powerful our reactions can be. In each of our personal lives, “here and now,” we make our own choices.
    Our oldest son, Robert E. Driver Jr., recently made a short and powerful statement to his mother over the phone: “I am a product of myself.”
    What if we were to adopt this philosophy for ourselves – would the result be a better world? For me it would.

Copyright © 2017 by Vic Midyett


  1. I have been called idealistic, but without ideals 'above the bar', how do we excel in our personal growth?

  2. Vic, thank you much for writing about something that I too have tried to remember, ever since I heard it in a lecture on creativity in San Jose, California, in 1977. The lecturer, whose name escapes me, said something so manifestly true and empowering, I have never forgotten it: "Between the stimulus and your response, pause to consider your alternatives. In that pause, you can discover a creative response."
        Only much later did I learn that the lecturer probably hadn’t discovered this for himself, but was capitalizing (as a paid public speaker) on his skill at getting this teaching across to his audiences. One likely source was Victor Frankl (1905-1997, an Austrian neurologist and a Holocaust survivor, author of Man's Search for Meaning), who wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Even guru Deepak Chopra has cadged this for his use, in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.)
        A good short article for readers to supplement their reading of your post: “Don’t Just React; Choose Your Response” [Leslie Becker-Phelps, Psychology Today, July 23, 2013].

  3. I have never been called an Idealist but I certainly cop the term politicaly incorrect. your comment about the piece of shit I believe was said by a noted general at the end of the 2nd world war

  4. I thank you gentlemen for your excellent responses. Here is a link I have since received from Morris on the 90-10% rule. I don't care for her voice in the video, but if I let it bother me, I would simply be shooting the messenger and demeaning the message. It is an excellent message!