The Thing Donald Trump and Dr. King Knew that No One Taught Us.
If somebody plays outside the rules the typical response is righteous indignation… so the weakness of any martial artist is the dogma of his sport…someone starts targeting your Adam's apple or your eyeballs and you don’t know how to deal with it you’re going to be furious, because you don’t know how to deal with it. But if you train at how to deal with it you’re not going to have that emotional reaction. -Josh Waitzkin ‘16
I’m fascinated by people whine and call foul play when the key issue is they don’t have the necessary technical skills to deal with an issue. I’ve seen this as a therapist dealing with kids who wet the bed. I’ve seen this with protest and nonviolent resistance movements. I saw this in the 2016 election.
I’ll give you an example.
I have a begrudging respect for Donald Trump. Not because I like him. I don’t think he’s a man of morals or virtues. I think he’s made that clear and I think everyone knows it. But the man won the 2016 election in a way that has never been done in this country. He’s a master at persuading others and galvanizing his supporters.
I feel about Donald almost the same way I did for Lebron James after the 2016 finals. I wasn’t rooting for you and I kind of hate that you won, but dang! You got game bra’.
One of the ways Donald won the election was by playing outside of the rules. He insulted other candidates, called for a religious band, implied that an entire ethnic group was rapist and killers, and said some pretty “raunchy” things about women and then got elected. It’s a nice sentiment to think “when they go low, you go high,” but when someone is gaining support from doing all the things we tell middle-schoolers not to do those platitudes do not work.
What you need is a new playbook. This playbook is best developed by bringing in dirty players, those playing outside the rules, and gaining the technical skill to deal with them. Once you do that you become Josh Waitzkin.
For those of you who don’t know, Josh Waitzkin is the most interesting man in the world. He was a chess prodigy slated to become the next Bobby Fischer- so much so that they made a movie about his life entitled Searching for Bobby Fischer. After the movie came out he became an international superstar and took up Tai Chi as a meditative art to deal with the pressure. He liked it so much that he switched from chess to the martial art version of Tai Chi. The first time Josh went to the world championships he was shocked at how corrupt the officials were. Tai Chi is the national sport of Taiwan, and they did not want an outsider to beat them at their own game, so his opponents would take groin shots and the refs would turn a blind eye. To deal with the dirty players Josh began sparing with dirtier players. Slowly he built the technical skill to deal with those who played outside the rules, which is what gave him the edge to become the world champion in moving and standing Tai Chi.
When I heard Josh discuss dealing with rule breakers (54:18) the little cogs in my mind began to whirl. Liberals are losers because they refuse to gain the technical skills for dealing with those who play outside the rules. Liberals heard Donald regress to name calling and turned up their noses so they loss.
For instance, Donald would call Hilary Clinton “Crooked Hilary.” Due to repetition an unconscious association begins to build between Hilary and crookedness. Whether or not you consciously believe she is crooked, your unconscious begins to make the association because its everywhere (news clips, memes, soundbites). If you’re like me your mind prefers alliteration and changes “Crooked Hillary” to “Crooked Clinton.” This not only builds on the scandals of her husband, but also enlists our minds in building the associations.
Donald uses name calling to make people distrust his opponents, unconsciously.
So what would it look like if Hillary had the technical skills to deal with name calling? What if when he started calling her names Hillary responded in kind and called him “Donnie.” Donnie is a name we call little kids. The association would have made Donald’s rants seem more childish.
The lack of skill to deal with those who fight dirty is a problem. This lack is a major barrier to excellence. This is a barrier which pops up all over the place.
Too often I hear others talk about how protesting doesn’t work and I shake my head because they are right for the wrong reasons. The protest of the 50's and 60's worked because of the technical skills of movements like the SCLC and the understanding of people like Dr King. They didn’t just march. They intentionally filled jails until they were stuffed; intentionally broke unjust laws, and had a clear actionable vision for what they wanted. It’s the difference between marching against racism and marching for voting rights. It’s what Thoreau called Civil Disobedience. Movements of today don’t have that and so protesting today doesn’t work because people lack the technical skill.
Of course, this doesn’t just happen on a national level. This also happens on a community level. How many kids have trouble reading because the teacher doesn’t know how to teach to their learning style? How many of those teachers get angry at the child? How many expand their skill set? We either get bitter or get busy getting better.