Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Wrong Side of History

Every generation seems to believe it’s the first to recognize that future people look back. We say "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll be on the wrong side of history!", smugly assuming we’re blowing your mind, opening up an awesome new perspective. Yet I've never seen this trope make anyone behave better.
We’re such babies with matters of subjectivity - framing, perspective, etc - that when we touch upon even a tritely obvious one, it feels like potent ammo and we eagerly await the big "Whoa!" reaction.
In fact, every single historical villain has understood that future people look back. This flip of perspective wasn’t invented by today’s millennials. And yet it never fails to frustrate when this judo flip of perspective doesn’t stop people from acting out of self-interest, fear, hate, tribalism, and all the other factors that have motivated humans since year one. It’s not a magic wand after all. 

I do give credit for trying, though, heartened to see even feeble recognition of the power of perspective. But as with any art form, real power can't be kindled with the easy one-size-fits-all approach of clichés (prospective messiahs, bear this in mind!). Perspectives can only be shifted if you bake fresh. Moldy clichés won't cut it.

“At the end of the day...” might still have the power to induce a scattered few people into mildly broadening their perspectives, but the rest of us just grind our teeth at this point.

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