Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 12/11/2023
I’ve never been troubled by irking people—an audience, meeting attendees, readers. I see my job as forcing people to think. In fact, I’ve been hired by executives to confront and discomfit employees.
Here’s the deal: You can receive great agreement about your points, or great resistance. Both are indicative of interest. What we really want to avoid is apathy.
Ubiquitous surveys (from employers, hotels, airlines, etc.) will tend to attract the happiest and the unhappiest, but not the vast numbers in the middle. If I don’t respond to you may mean I have nothing to contribute, but it may mean I just don’t give a damn.
We see people every day on that great swamp of confirmation bias, social media, trying to elicit “likes” and strokes and positive comments, while ignoring or blocking those who disagree.
What we should be trying to do is elicit respect, not affection. One sign of intellectual heft and fearlessness is that a lot of people might disagree with you. In an age of polarization, and the ridiculous arrogance that people who disagree with you are somehow morally inferior, these “attacks” proliferate.
We need honesty today, not equivocation. How bad is it? Well, I saw three major university presidents in front of a Congressional committee equivocate and refuse to commit as to whether certain hate speech—such as calling for genocide—constituted sufficient reason to condemn and suppress such speech.
All three of them sounded as if they never attended college themselves. The president of the University of Pennsylvania has since resigned under pressure after a tenure of just a few months. I suspect the other two might also have to go.
You can’t be friends with and adored by everyone. You have to uphold certain standards. You have to represent the institution and your constituency, and not seek a position where you offend no one.
Because then you offend everyone.
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. —Robert M. Hutchins
We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings. —Helen Keller
Fear is better than apathy because fear makes us do something. —Emiliano Salinas