Stop frothing at the mouth

An open letter to lefties who shout because they don’t think anybody is listening or tell the public to “wake up” because they think it’s asleep.

Dear Lefty,

Please allow me to comment on a major failing of the U.S. Left: its tendency to rant, froth at the mouth, proclaim the end of the world, panic, and generally drown folks in jargon. Activists who talk that way are often seen, and not unreasonably, as deranged.

“But the world’s going to hell in a handbasket!” you might reply. “People have to listen!”

Nope. You have to learn how to communicate.

Until then you are, in effect, building a concrete wall between your issue and the people who might otherwise get involved. You know — those people you call “apolitical.”

Here’s a book to start with. It’s a practical guide for parents: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Or you could just read the title and take it to heart. Try not to blow off the second part of that title, the “listening” part.

Here’s a picture of its gorgeous cover, complete with a link to the book on Powell’s. (But if you decide to order it, go to powellsunion instead (type in or , because then the union gets cred and a bit of cash.)

Yours truly,


2 responses to “Stop frothing at the mouth

  1. I think the trouble comes when people suspect that the world might be coming to an end but aren’t entirely sure. The lack of certainty makes them panic and over-compensate by sounding *extra*, loudly certain.

    those of us who are absolutely certain the world is coming to an end are much more calm and quiet because we know that, in the words of a favorite song of mine “you can go ahead and cry, but that won’t keep you dry”.

    the existentialists among us have a certain joie d’apocalypse and feel that since the end is coming one way or another, we may as well behave as decently, honestly, and fairly as possible. in short, there’s not future, but we prefer to behave as though there were.

    there’s a narrow but very deep divide between us and the nihilists, who have the same basic premise but proceed from there to the position that since it’s all going to end anyway, they may as well behave like complete bastards. I think, despite their loud professions of religious faith, that many on the right fall into this group. either way, they’re not staving off the end of the world – they’re just helping to make more people miserable before it gets here.

    • Joie D’Apocaplyse, eh? Wake up dude, the sky is falling!

      Nihilists . . . having read the novel What Is To Be Done (both the full version and the version done by the translator who didn’t understand the ending and therefore chopped it off entirely), I have a vague but rather muddled inkling that they actually have a political analysis of some sort. Or at least, they did a hundred years ago.

      I’m of the opinion that the world may or may not end, better be covered either way. I’m a play-it-safe-er.

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