Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Art of Aggressive Listening -- by Ralph Smeed

Many folks seem to view the act or art of listening in much the same manner as some ancient religions or cults look upon the act of having their photograph taken, i.e., with trepidation if not extreme alarm.  It is as if a portion of their (intellectual) soul is thereby being siphoned away, to be lost forever to some mystical, competitive or even hostile force. 

In actual fact however, the genuine act of listening is not only not a loss of soul, it is not even passive.  Listening can be seen as an overt act of seizing an opportunity together with another human consciousness to share a coped for awareness along a certain direction, or search for truth, with the goal in mind of welding TWO consciousnesses into one larger, more perfect consciousness or awareness.  Thus light instead of heat, which is the only way possible to effect a new awareness. 


So rather than a "giving up" or "yielding the floor" the act itself, of listening, is actually a gain.  It is not merely a necessary requirement of communication with others in the only true sense of communication.  It is the stance of learning itself.  It should not be confused with the act of talking which our egos, being too eager, often mistake for communication.  Unfortunately, for what might be termed radio-like broadcast communicating to be matched with one's "receiver" one must "tune in" with the other person on an oft-times difficult wave-length.  One must be, or appear to be, genuinely eager to listen to or learn from the other person, if (repeat, if) that person is to be communicated with in the highest and best sense of the word.


This seems to me to be a necessary correlation one must make if one is to understand what Leonard Read has been trying to express (teach?) for so many years, that "the problem of restoring the American dream of freedom is not a teaching problem, as generally perceived by most all of us, but rather a learning problem."  (Now then, that may well be the most radical suggestion you have ever hear, and an ever so true one when seen in this light.  Agreed) 


To use one of Leonard's phrases a step further:  "Finding words for common sense" --- learning, in this sense, is not so very common, nor is it so easy as just running off super-enthusiastic verbalizing, however swiftly, voluminously and, or intensely sincere.


If the above makes an sense at all the act of listing perhaps should be defined as "learning", in which case, if this be true, listening may well be the most effectively overt: heretofore seeming to be that comforting or satisfying sensation accompanying only the talking-half of communicating or aggressive part of the act or the art of communicating.


It should not be seen as merely half of a two-way act.  In fact, it may very well be the most important half, so to speak, of a one-way act.  


All of which is not to say that those well-meaning, if misguided souls whose zeal, sincere and intense as they very well may be, have anything to do with the art of listening ─ in the above sense.  All of us have experienced those missionaries from everywhere whose divine revelations on every subject in contention from alpha to omega motivates them to hesitate their torrent  of words only to catch their breath for a mere hesitation in yours, so to begin their flood again.  It is often as if the qualitative theory of inquiry in discourse had no beginning and the quantitative one no end…  As frustrating and futile as such verbal exchanges always must be the act of listening can be looked upon as another dimension entirely, although even here it can sometimes actually offer the best response, if indeed one be indicated.  This is because if such a desire is sought at all it need only be sought by one party --- if necessary.


Certainly, it is far better if both parties to the exchange be so inclined, but it is not necessary.  (Perhaps the Lord also had in mind something akin to this when he offered his well known, if little understood: "turn the other cheek."  One's ear isn't far from one's cheek, is it?)  And anyway sometimes it is not convenient just to walk off.  So what better way to devastate one's opponent, adversary or over-zealous discussant, than to listen him (or her) into submission?


An then, too, there's Leonard's ever so propitious allusion to listening:  (if everything else fails this always works):  "I make it policy not to talk to anyone unless he is trying to learn something from me, or I from him.  You'd be surprised how much unnecessary, even unpleasant conversation such a policy cures."


 Still, if listening be looked upon as an aggressive act it can be a truly great way to win a battle sometimes even the war in the competition of words ─ the place the violent wars usually begin.  And as Leonard has pointed out "it's the man who strikes the SECOND blow who starts the fight."  This is ever so true when one responds to a ridiculous assertion.  Of course, one can always respond to a ridiculous assertion.  Of course one can always respond by asking a question, but sometimes this seems to imply your seeming to be ignorant, it shouldn't, but if it does ─ try listening aggressively.  Who knows, you might even learn something.


 And if you do it with some real patience ─ and a smile ─ or maybe a grin, it may catch your opponent off guard, where upon, if you've done your homework, you can even defend your learning, which you probably got by listening ─ aggressively.


Signed  -- Ralph Smeed


P.S.  [By the way, if a sub-title were to be used on this main essay we might also use another one of Leonard's ever so apt phrases, namely "intelligent curiosity".]

P.P.S.  I wonder, my friend, so long as gov't is perceived as a "religion" more or less, doesn't it follow that it is futile (more or less) to "offer" or plead for less gov't., (i.e.,  as if asking God to do less)?  Think about it --- and how to make the point, or even to speak openly about it, if we are perceived as in a kind of blasphemy.


"One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears --- by listening with them." -- Dean Rusk              


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Idaho GOP’s new leaf turned

The uber alles (read: above all) liberal media, as usual, tried to bespeckle their dwindling audience before, during and now after the 2008 Idaho Republican Convention.


Norm Semanko defeated power-elitist incumbent J. Kirk Sullivan for the party chairmanship.


The media repeatedly illustrated the coalition which defeated the elite party apparatus as pot bong with a pro-life sticker on it.  So much for the media's love affair with the political "process" especially when it comes to individuals who have come to a point in their walk-of-life where they actually understand the personal meaning of "freedom" and "liberty;" and, not the trite moral-less definitions propagandized in print and broadcast, like the freedom to "Larry Craig" and the freedom to dismember individual womb babies.


The political process, in this instance, has been completely ignored.  The focus is on marijuana, not the historic fact that an individual fought and won at the Idaho Supreme Court – without the representation of a government licensed lawyer – for the individual constitutional right to "petition for redress" in the state of Idaho using the citizens' initiative, which had been illegally thwarted by local government commissars in Blaine County.  The issue happened to relate to marijuana.  Insert your pet issue here and see what is more important, pot or the process of protecting your right to fight for your beliefs.


Two headlines you could write:  1. Pothead Promoter Supports Semanko;  2.  Individual Rights Advocate Backs Semanko.  Now, substitute Obama for Semanko and guess which headline gets printed along side the Norman Rockwell masterpiece of the rugged American standing up at a town hall meeting.


Then add into the mixture the behind the scenes delegate manipulations exposed in part at the Ada County GOP Central Committee meeting where delegates were "pre-selected" before being overruled by the Grassroots GOP.


A full court press for Sullivan was deployed by fellow power-elitist like C.L. "Butch" Otter who reportedly said "He'd quit if Semanko was elected."  It was a "joke" but would Idaho actually miss him as governor if voters gave him a pink slip?


Locally, statewide and nationally, the Republican brand no longer represents lower taxes, more individual freedom, family values and smaller government.  It is liberal-lite with all the trappings of creeping socialism, like the trillion dollars National Prescription Drug Subsidy (Pill Bill) that Otter voted for.


Why would the Idaho GOP conventioneers vote to abolish the Federal Reserve to the hoorays of "Freedom!"?  Those who understand personal freedom know that honest money is something that protects their freedom.  Or, to put it another way, Nobel Laureate Milton Freidman asked, "If I stamp the word 'cheese' on a piece of paper, does it make it cheese?"  So, what makes our printed money, money?  Yet, we live, work, and struggle just to get a full shrink-wrapped pallet of printed paper that we can store in the bank.


Now, add ten more government monster buildings with a thousand more printing presses grinding out billions and billions of printed dollars everyday.  How much will your pallet be worth?  Ask your teenage grandkids if they have any idea how inflation happens.  Surely the government schools taught them that prices go up because of greedy capitalists.


The power elitists don't actively care about the citizens' initiative process or the Federal Reserve, rather they care about pallets of money and using the power of government as a competitive advantage to possess more pallets believing that fulfills their "American Dream."


It is most important that Idaho Republicans re-engage the battle for the principles that made them strong in the first place.  Electing Semanko is a first step.  The convention delegate manipulations narrowed the media perception that Republicans want to self-sabotage their battle for principles by allowing Democrats to help them select their candidates for the general election, i.e., open vs. closed primaries.


Rush Limbaugh developed "Operation Chaos" in open primary states between Obama and Clinton urging Republicans to vote for Clinton thus extending their primary process.  In Idaho and nationally, they are called RINO's meaning Republicans In Name Only.  Democrats to a lesser extent label their crossovers as DINO's.  In Arizona's past they labeled primary crossover Republicans as "Pintos."


Should the opposing team be able to select your team's quarterback?  That is just silly.  And for the independents who don't know if they are punched or bored, you get your chance in the general election to select your government representation.


Huge credit goes to former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck for shepherding this most important principle through the power-elite's gauntlet-of-hell.  Without his leadership, Semanko wouldn't have had a chance.  Beck and his allies shaped the battlefield for Semanko; and any principled Republican who doesn't see this needs to recalibrate their political compass.


The power-elites know who beat them for the chairmanship … Rod Beck.  You should hear the backroom gossip of the wanna-be elite gadflies.  There are not into party unity, they are into power and the pallets of money and could care less about the Republican principles.  They drove the Republican brand into Brand X.  Their track record is soon to be complete after losing the US Senate, the House and now staring at the future President of the United States of America, Barak Obama.


The Idaho GOP has turned over a new leaf.  It's morning in Idaho, again.  Restore the Republican brand to its rightful principles by actually enacting into law legislation that reflects these timeless principles.


For too long, the Idaho Republican politicians have controlled the grassroots of the party and destroyed the brand.  Now is the chance for the grassroots to again control the politicians.  Isn't that the concept of "We the People," who simply loan a portion of our right to the politicians?  Hence, restore the long-forgotten understanding that elected politicians are "public servants."

Power-elitist wanna-be's like Brad Hoaglun, big-time patronage government employee and Ada delegate, just won't let go.  He's quoted post-convention in the Nampa paper saying, "People are fervent about their causes. It may be unmanageable at first, but it will become more so, over time."


So, over time we will be managed?  Brad is clueless in his quest for elitism.  We don't need to be managed, we just need a clear process to select representatives who share our principles without having to go through the GOP's elitist's gauntlet-of-hell every time we pursue principles.  It is hard enough fighting off the universal health care of socialism without being slapped around by the bullies, like Sen. Bart Davis, within the GOP's big fat bloated government loving tent. 


Davis tore up a copy of the GOP rules in front of the convention to show that he was "in control" of the show.  More "management" from the elitists.


So this is party unity.  The elitists lost and now they will punish the victors.  Just you watch and see.  Sabotage from the elitist will be relentless, after all, there are many pallets at stake here.


Good luck Norm Semanko.  You will be successful if you put the grassroots first, and the politicians as public servants.  


Finally, Norm … watch your back and don't chicken out under pressure.  They can't beat you on principle.