“ABC” “Always Be Closing” or “Always Be Considerate”?

I posted a satirical GIF on Facebook recently about the Cup-Fuffle(tm) over Starbuck’s “Red Cup”.  I say it was a satirical, as I saw it as a commentary on the lunacy of those who think the cup equates to a “War on Christmas.” However, one of my very dear conservative, Christian friends asked me to “Stop the hate.  Please”  He saw a nuclear attack on the nativity? A denigration of ALL Christians? … I don’t know.


Courtesy New York Times

I am baffled how I could see satire while he sees hate.  It may, in part be explained by this article.  Although a brief “opinion” piece, it is interesting for two reasons: not only does it help me understand why a liberal view might be seen differently through conservative frames, but also because it frames interactions between humans as “sales.”

I incorrectly think that when among friends my expressions are not “selling.”  I’m simply “expressing how I feel” in my own language and perspective.  I’m not trying to persuade or “sell” good friends.  Though unintentional, I end up fulfilling the article’s point, by precluding the opposite side’s involvement through ignoring their values in the way I frame my expression.

Downside?  Maybe “ABC” is an ultimate truth?  “Always Be Closing.”  Even though the speaker may not be selling,  the listener is always buying… subconsciously, friends (all humans, really) are continually accumulating reasons to be or remain attracted to a friend.  My Starbuck’s post was clearly not “bought” as attractive or tolerable by my friend.

There may be no escape from the need to be “selling” and “spinning” views, if direct expression leads to misunderstanding, or revulsion.  But surely I don’t want to reformulate how I express things just to please others at ALL times?  But this situation does force me to realize that at the very least I must add a few pebbles of attractive expression to the one side of the scale, if I intend to drop “truth bombs” on the other side.   The constant barrage of “how I see it” leaves friends experiencing no room for themselves in my views. I don’t provide enough space for their existence in the friendship, through the simple act of expressing in terms they can relate to and value, at least some of the time.

Could this sound any more calculating? I mean, seriously… I’m literally talking about maintaining a balanced friendship by weighing out portions of attractiveness and shit that will set on separate balance pans.  No. It can not sound more calculating, but it’s true: friends (wives, relations of any kind?) stay with us in part out of enjoyment and value they experience in our presence, and in part out of how willing they are to tolerate our less attractive weaknesses and foibles.  Trying to keep that scale in balance is essential!

(As if I needed anything to be self-conscious about, removing me from being present in the experience:  Am I balancing the scales right now with this person? Have I deposited enough good will that I can withdraw with a painful truth right now?  How can this be intuitive to so many people?)

Comedian Bill Burr says that in order to avoid coming off as a ranting demagogue, he now closes his rants with something like, “”Bah… but I’m just talking out of my ass!  What do I know!”  This small act of self-deprecation converts a “ram-it-down-your-throat” diatribe into just another half-assed idea that Bill can pretend he doesn’t really value; doesn’t really want you to consider.  And yet, the expression has been expressed, the seed planted; the idea has a chance.

I’m learning, though it may be pathetic that I didn’t learn until I’m 49 years old, that I have to find ways to express my “truths” in ways that don’t leave people looking for the door out of a room they don’t want to be in because it is suffocating their truth. I may have free speech, but my ideas will be ignored and I will drive friends away if I don’t figure something out.

Can I undo 49 years of wiring and behavior? I NEED to, and at the same time find a way to balance the deep compulsion that my perspectives, observations and experience require expression, precisely because I believe they carry some value for the world.  I want others to want to consider my perspective.  I want others to buy what I’m selling, and ironically the only way I can achieve that is by giving to others that which I seek for myself:  a little space and acknowledgment that what they value is important.


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