When we make a telling remark, we know what we said but not what we’re telling people. We’re sending signals unconsciously. Others can read us but we cannot read ourselves. We do not get taken at our word because we are contradicting ourselves in ways that do not register on our outlook.
We are speaking about telling remarks whenever we say:
- There’s the pot calling the kettle black
- Birds of a feather flock together
- It takes one to know one
- Look in the mirror when you point your finger at someone
- It’s your own damn fault when you find fault in others
- When you point your finger at someone, you’re pointing three fingers back at yourself
Our most telling remarks attack other people. When we are pointing fingers, we are saying a lot more about ourselves than what we’re pointing out about others. When we’re finding fault with others, we don’t realize how clearly we blame ourselves in worse ways. When we cannot imagine how to be respectful, grateful or considerate of others, we are obviously showing the world how damaged we feel behind our pretentious display of overbearing confidence.
When we are captivated by the flaws we see in others, we are repulsed by similar shortcomings we keep hidden in ourselves. We take offense to others when we are offended by something about ourselves. We are fussing at the spec in our brother’s eye when we are not seeing what interferes with our clear vision. We cannot know why we are spellbound by other people’s flaws until we stop rejecting similar facets of ourselves. We will continue to fuss and fume until we get to know ourselves behind the masks we show the world.
Spoiled brats make telling remarks that are the most obvious and easy to read. They are not good at hiding what they don’t want others to see. They are extremely obvious about what they are not saying with their words. They tip their hand for us to see what cards they are playing. They pull back the curtain for us to see what they are really saying beneath their superficial bravado.
Spoiled brats have had it too good in life and that is too bad for them. They barely disguise how they feel sorry for themselves and inferior to those who didn’t have it so good. They feel driven to defy social convention which usually dictates “putting on your best face in public”. They wear their worst face in public and keep their goodness out of sight. The act out their frustrations with being privileged. They take secret pleasure in being so bad, surprising and defiant. They say all this with their vicious telling remarks, accusations and blame games.
In the worlds of business, sports and theater, spoiled brats are called “prima donnas”. They are conceited and extremely selfish. Their minds are closed to constructive feedback or helpful advice. They cannot listen to reason, take more responsibility for their effect on others or change their closed minds. They are convinced they are the best in spite of all the evidence they are only good for themselves. They need to be right at all cost and see everyone else as wrong, bad, stupid or incompetent. Their telling remarks reveal how weak they seem to themselves, how inferior they feel and how troubled they are by their profound insecurities. They obviously come on too strongly to compensate for not feeling strong enough. They blatantly trouble others and barely disguise how troubled they really are.
The political arena has always been sanctuary for spoiled brats and prima donnas. Political discourse is usually as noisy as bird sanctuaries during mating season. Each partisan politician dishes out one or two telling remarks at every opportunity. Pointing fingers is all in a day's work. Attacking others is the norm. Being the loudest pays well. Sounding hypocritical is inevitable while all the commonalty with the opposition is inconceivable.
A collaborative, bipartisan politician is a rare specie in the noisy arena. Sounding inclusive, reasonable and insightful does not play well in the breaking news stories of ongoing investigations and shocking revelations. Focusing on policy changes instead of political harangues does not quack like all the other ducks on the pond. Acting collaborative and diplomatic with the opposition does not excite campaign rallies, entice the party faithful or motivate the campaign donors.
At first glance, all this evidence shoots down the possibility of draining the swamp. The dysfunctional discourse and deadlocked deliberations appear to be robust and resilient. However, the emergence of a vibrant democracy looks both feasible and likely to me. There’s more going on here than the culture of telling remarks which bodes well for the transformation I foresee. As I will explore in my next post, there is no real opposition, only posturing. Those in power are playing a losing game while winning elections. They clearly are their own worst enemies. They can only succeed at falling down as the swamp morphs into a meadow.