It was a mistake to speak one’s mind at any time, unless it perfectly matched your political purpose; and it never did. Best to strip all statements of real content, this was a basic law of diplomacy.
Robinson, Kim Stanley. Red Mars (p. 414)
I enjoyed Red Mars well enough, but apparently not so well as to read the sequels. It was long, and slow in parts.
This quote is good, though. While it first feels like the author is only talking about actual politics (or maybe political correctness), I think it’s applicable far wider. How often do we strip statements of real content, and for what reasons?
At the very least, I do it:
- To avoid offending.
- To avoid hurt feelings.
- To avoid looking dumb.
- To avoid being vulnerable.
Conversely, this kind of shallow, vanilla, no-chance-anyone-could-take-offense discourse is useless. It’s guaranteed to avoid real connection or understanding. At best it’s a waste of both parties’ time, at worst it’s one more offending action in a greater pattern of soul crushing, whitewashed dishonesty.
So go say something real, honest, and maybe offensive. Do it thoughtfully, to an appropriate audience (read: not facebook), and be ready to listen and discuss why you might be wrong – but do it.