The US justice system was founded on a principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” This was imperfectly enforced but generally held and even improved over the years. Recently, things have taken a darker turn. “Show trials”, very common in the Stalinist era in Russia, have made their way into American life. These show trials may happen on college campuses, maybe through the media, or maybe even in the judicial system. The point is to humiliate and destroy your opponent in a show trial, not to seek justice.
The world has always been a dangerous place, to varying degrees, and even now modern life comes with risks. It pays to be careful because danger is still there. One lack of insurance, one tragic miscalculation, one day of bad judgement, one un-pc word in the wrong place, or being too wrapped up with the wrong person can lead to a lifetime of regret. Boundaries are important, I’ve learned this the hard way. My favorite writer, Nassim Taleb says that being successful in any endeavor is largely about taking small risks and avoiding ruin. Major risks are there in the form of people you encounter too. Some people are hell – bent on causing trouble. It’s better as Taleb says in his book by the same name, to become “Antifragile.” Who controls your life? Are you anti-fragile? The people you can’t criticize are the people who have power over you. Set healthy boundaries.
There are negative, and destructive, and yes even evil people out there.
They hate you for who you are.
They don’t want you to succeed.
They take joy in your pain.
They are petty, bitter, manipulative, and narcissistic.
They are jealous.
They don’t want to cooperate, they want to suck the life out of you.
I don’t care who you are, there are people in you encounter in life who you should avoid. These people really exist, especially now.
We live in an ideological age. As Russell Kirk says “ideology is political religion.” Ideology blinds people to reason and ties them to tribal instincts and emotions. Ideology is driven by pure emotion and communicates with rhetoric (emotional communication) not dialectic (logic).
Are you in, or are you out?
Certain cultural influences in the US are pushing a type of monomind ideology and this way of being and thinking has infected the culture like a meme- a sociological virus. It’s so invasive that it’s become what the Italian theorist Gramcy called “common sense.” Dr. Frank Furedi of the University of Kent has brilliantly written about this quite a bit too, on the culture of fear, fear-mongering, and the “call-out” bullies in the culture of offense. People are afraid, and for good reason. There are people out there looking to get you, especially if you work or are dependent upon a large bureaucratic organization. If you have a family to support, it’s even more perilous.
So why does it matter to you?
Some people you just need to avoid. They can make your life a living hell.
Don’t be paranoid but be real. Set boundaries. Some people are toxic. Spend time only with people who want the best for you and who celebrate your accomplishments.
People consumed by ideology are not interested in a debate or discussion. At best, they want to call names and attack people, at worst they want to lie, cheat, and ruin people’s’ lives, possibly even through physical harm.
Ideologues, sociopaths, and emotional vampires may be a small minority of the population but they’re out there. Avoid them at all costs.
Avoid them at work, in your personal life, and in public. If possible, don’t allow them into your organizations. Ideologies are pathologies to the host. They must be avoided or removed from the host or they will suck the life out of it. Their power play is manipulative. They pose as victims and appeal to the host’s sense of decency and goodwill. Beware.
Don’t argue, don’t explain, don’t apologize. You more than likely did nothing wrong.
If you’re stuck with them at work, avoid them or nod along as best you can when they start rehearsing their memes and empty platitudes. When topics come up and you can sense a trap, then gracefully bow out. Don’t ever be alone with them and document all your communication.
Some people you just need to avoid.
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