Would we HATE it if we realized our narrative?
Are you certain of your facts? Is this the whole truth? What are your starting points, and those of what you are reading, seeing or hearing? What are your biases, prejudices, and discriminations, and those of the article/video you are viewing? Continue reading
I believe that many Americans are puzzled or put-off by Donald Trump’s communication style. Hillary Clinton and the press surely make much of it, everything from laughing to taking him literally when he says things like Obama created ISIS.
Having analyzed Trump’s rhetoric (my PhD is in Intercultural Communications), I would like to offer a few hints to help you understand the Donald:
- Trump seems to be non-linear, while Hillary and most Americans are more linear
- Trump seems more contextual and Hillary more content-oriented
- He seems more Essentialist, while Hillary is focused more on details
- He uses Scottish/Tory common-sense (American businessman), while Hillary uses politesse
- He is an optimist; Hillary is probably an idealist
- Trump seems to be an in-fighter and will not let a comment go without a rejoinder
Many Americans use Trump’s style of thinking and rhetoric. They, of course, do not think him strange at all. Additionally, his is the predominant style in many cultures around the world. So, he is not a lunatic. It is important to understand his context. He should not be ridiculed in the media and by Democrats. So much for PC embracing differences! See article for more.
- Non-linear. Most Americans are linear thinkers. Their thought process is step-by-step, one thought leading to the next. Think of an arrow traveling directly to the target. Trump, on the other hand, is like an arrow that zigs and zags on its flight. He can begin at any of several related entry points to a topic and can expand to all relevant directions the topic touches on. He is also more interactive, interpreted by some as “interruptive.” Many cultures around the world are non-linear: Spanish and Hispanic, Arabic, most Mediterranean cultures.
2. Contextual: Content-oriented:
-may seem vague/ambiguous -literalness, highly explicit
-relationship, social appropriateness, degree of trust -overly direct / blunt
-more touching, embracing, etc. -standoffish
3. “Essentialist”: people who speak in terms of the essential element and ultimate consequences of a topic without regard to literalness / precision. This may be used to indicate the importance or interest of the topic. It is not intended to be taken literally; some may be misinterpret as hyperbole.
4. Scottish/Tory common-sensical: in Trump’s case his is the classic American businessman’s view of Washington D.C. and politics. Hillary is the quintessential politician.
5. Optimist: Trump uses the classic American language of ‘monumentalism’ taken from our frontier roots: everything is great, huge, terrifying, etc. Again, not intended to be taken literally.
6. In-fighter: Trump is used to rough and tumble verbal sparring, to give as good as he gets. He would not be the first statesman on the international scene to use this approach.
Kaplan, 1967. From Elliott, C. E. 1999. Cross-Cultural Communication Styles, pre-pub thesis. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/lpsc_wksp_2007/resources/elliott.pdf
Cano Morn 2004
Do we think differently? chuckslamp.com
deBono, Edward. 1970. 1990
Omar & Khalaf. 2009. A sociolinguistic study of hyperbole. Journal of Anbar Univ. for lang. & lit.
Petersens. Latin America: Not as European as Europeans think it is. aspetersen.de
Rick Hills. 2008. The French vs Scottish-English styles in American writing. prawfsblawg.blogs.com
Wederspahn, Gary. Cross-cultural communication between Latin American and U.S. managers. grovewell.com. based on Hofstede.
Romance rhetorical style N. American rhetorical style
arrow with sharp turns and twists sharp arrow direct to the target
valued experience directly stating point, purpose & conclusion
may seem disorganized may seem overly flat, prosaic, only facts
(Kaplan, 1967. From Elliott, C. E. 1999. Cross-Cultural Communication Styles, pre-pub thesis. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/lpsc_wksp_2007/resources/elliott.pdf)
non-linear: characterized by multiple (related) linear: a process of thought following starting points and expansion in multiple (all step-by-step progression (e.g. if a=b, relevant) directions and b=c, then a=c)
(Do we think differently? chuckslamp.com; deBono, Edward. 1970. 1990)
Column One – Circular Column Two – Linear
a Gather and welcome everyone affected a. Define the goal
b. Think about the questions to be asked b. Develop a strategy
c. Interactively share information c. Make a plan
d. Recognize a pattern, get an idea d. Set time lines, costs, tasks
e. Create a prototype and try it e. Activate the plan
f. Respond to the information and redesign f. Measure progress
People of the Ancient Near East were, as a rule, traders par excellence, and Jews no less so. Patronage/clientalism resulted whenever there was inequality of power or resources in the trading relationship. Literally every man/family in these societies was a client/“in debt” to some higher up the socio-economic chain, as well as a patron to others below them. This was rampant in the nations around Israel and constantly encroaching on its practices as well. It was true also of the Roman Empire and everywhere its influence reached. The Mafia continues the practice, as well as most modern societies to varying degrees (e.g., congressional bill riders and other quid pro quo practices, to say nothing of buying votes, gerrymandering, etc.).
Jesus and other New Testament teachers taught in keeping with God’s injunction through Moses nearly two millennia prior: “I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt where you used to live, nor as they do in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you. . . . Keep my decrees and laws, for the one who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord” (Lev. 18:1-5). This included rules about how to treat strangers and the poor (Lev. 19:33-34, etc.). The clientalism of the nations around was a degrading, enslaving substitute for biblical love and generosity (gifted by God who alone is good).
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he included: “Father . . . forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Mat. 6:12 & Luk. 11:4). Paul took up the theme when he wrote to the believers in Rome: “Owe no one anything but to love one another, for love fulfills the law” (Rom. 13:8).
What a radical injunction! Paul had just written: “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (12:18). They were saying, God loves and forgives you, so to the extent you can, live as free people; extricate yourselves from being in debt/owing clientalism to or enslaving/claiming patronage from anyone; instead live loving and being generous.
Definition: Patronage/Clientalism: Power to confer favors, give support and protection, or to appoint to office or position. Providers of patronage (patrons) and receivers (clients) form a network through which access to various resources is obtained. It originates from unequal distribution of power and, since ancient times, is closely linked with corruption. (patronage. businessdictionary.com)
What is the biggest mistake most people make thinking about God?
1. He is not an idea in our mind. He is real.
2. He is not the bottom-most turtle, nor the top one either. He is distinct.
Have you asked yourself: “Is the God we are discussing the same as the one who actually exists?” (Nicholson, William. 2004. The society of others. Doubleday)
What are your starting points? What are mine?
WILL SANITY EVER RETURN? I’m going crazy here, and I suppose so are you. It seems in the last few weeks that confusion and anxiety have hit new highs. Major contributors seem to be: even more intolerance between interest groups in this country, political wannabes talking past each other, and the threat of Islam from thousands of refugees flooding the West along with who knows how many terrorists. There seems to be no agreement about anything, and as many ‘spins’ as there are talking heads.
WE NEED CLARITY! I want to insert a few radical truths to help sort through all of this. First, memes are dangerous. They are not cute or slick precisely because they reduce reality to a ‘soundbite’, something to be consumed. This is to our detriment as individuals and as a society.
Statements like these are misleading, deceitful or both: “When we asked for votes, we didn’t ask what their religion was” (a recently elected town council member in Michigan who is Muslim), “right wing religious fundamentalist conspiracies are behind that,” and “terrorists do not represent Islam or any religion.” Then, they become memes.
EVERYBODY HAS A BELIEF SYSTEM. Whether we are speaking of Muslims, Christians, ‘nones’, or non-religious, we are speaking of belief systems / worldviews / cultures. Everybody has them, and every government, institution, and enterprise has a ‘culture’ as well. Nobody and nothing is neutral.
EVERY BELIEF SYSTEM IS RELIGIOUS. The core starting point for every belief system / culture is religious. Yes, ‘religious’. No one and no system is non religious. Maybe they don’t pray to a deity or attend or sponsor religious services, in the popular sense of religious. But they are religious nonetheless. I can say this because every belief system starts with something that they believe is absolutely true, even if not 100% proven, and on which everything they believe ultimately depends. And, even if the rest of their system does not seem religious in the popular sense.
When Christians, whether or not they attend church, defend the Christmas tree and Easter Bunny as ‘Christian’, when Progressives, whether or not they attend their professional associations, defend anything as ‘settled science’, when Muslims, whether or not they attend mosque, do not speak out against terrorism and advocate changing our constitution to allow for Shariah law and the Muslim way, they are speaking out of worldviews / cultures, and therefore core starting points that are religious.
A Christian, whether a regular attender or not reflects to a large degree Christian starting points that are religious, that is, absolute and taken to some degree on faith. A Progressive, whether a member of an association or political party, reflects to a large degree Progressive starting points that are religious, that is, absolute and taken to some degree on faith. A Muslim, whether or not ‘religious’, reflects to a large degree Muslim starting points that are religious, that is, absolute and taken to some degree on faith.
THE QUESTION IS WHICH RELIGION? Everyone has these religious starting points. It is only a matter of which kind they have. So, to call someone from a Muslim culture / worldview ‘non-religious’, or someone from a Christian culture / worldview ‘non-religious’, or someone from a Progressive culture / worldview ‘non-religious’ is really a misnomer. It is unhelpful and untrue.
Worldview / culture = religious starting point
LET’S TALK. The soonest that we can come to understand and agree on this, and operate on its basis, the better we can begin to perceive real reality and unmask false categories, and begin to talk to one another, including those outside our particular group or belief system.