I Wasn’t Born To Be A Courtier

As hard as it may be to realize, I am not quite as ferocious against authority as may appear to be the case. I am pretty cynical about it, and openly so, but cynicism and hostility are quite different matters. Since there are people who have complained to me and others about the tone of some of my writings in dealing with authorities, and since at least a few people have sought to caution me about such matters as tact and discretion, areas where I naturally struggle, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss why I naturally lack the skills of being a courtier that others would vastly appreciate, and give some ideas of what it would take for me to develop such skills at this late hour.

Some time ago I wrote an entry on consensus building in autocratic regimes [1]. I would like to expand upon the points I made there and apply them to my own personal life and experiences. Not only do autocratic institutions appear different on the inside and outside, but any institution with power appears autocratic from the outside and rather consensual when one is on the inside. Being an insider anywhere means one experiences the personal touch and signs of favoritism given to those who are trusted. Being an outsider means that one feels the coldness of formality and bureaucratic procedures and the appearance (and often the reality) of coercive demands and oppressive behavior. Where trust is lacking, any act by an institution or authority appears tyrannical and abusive to the person who is on the receiving end of those actions.

And trust is precisely my problem. For a variety of reasons, I find it difficult to trust other people, and the greater someone’s capacity to hurt me the more difficult it is for me to trust them. While I am sure that I am not alone in this problem, this deficiency in the normal capacity to trust other people, especially people in authority is the biggest factor in making me an outsider who views the actions of those on the inside, any sort of inside, with a high degree of suspicion. I work very hard to keep that suspicion in reasonable bounds and avoid lapsing into conspiracy theories (since I think that most of what is considered to be a conspiracy in nations and institutions is merely the normal and friendly working of people who are fellow elite insiders without any conscious evil plotting). Because I am cynical and skeptical of others, especially those in authority, it is fairly natural that those who consider themselves insiders and supporters of authorities, whoever they are, would naturally view me as an enemy and a threat, even though I am not, merely a deeply wounded and reasonably savvy and aware outside observer. But because I am not inside, I am not trusted, and because I am not trusting, I am not let inside. The cycle reinforces itself over time.

I feel at some pains to say that I do not believe it is a sin to be an insider. This should not be necessary to say, but there appears to be some confusion in the matter. I have never felt like an insider, which requires one to feel trusted, an intensely subjective matter that is also, for a variety of deeply personal reasons very difficult. The sort of trust that one feels when one feels like an insider is a sort of intimacy; to feel like an insider one has to be capable of feeling a great degree of intimacy. Likewise, those who for a variety of reasons have difficulty with intimacy and trust likewise tend not to trust insiders at all–and we see that manifested both in struggles with relationships as well as a difficulty trusting those in authority.

So, what can be done about this lamentable situation? There are really two elements that must be addressed. One is the ignorance of elites that they have a massive trust problem with their people all over the world. Elites tend to think that simply because they care about the well-being of their people and do their best that others are going to see that. Not so. By and large, the people of families, churches, and societies do not trust their governments and have massive grievances about what they consider abusive actions. And their feelings must be respected if elites desire the peace and stability and legitimacy that they long for most deeply. Elites need to take the time and show that they are worthy of the trust of their people if they want to be treated like legitimate leaders.

But the people have some responsibilities too. They have to be willing to forgive, and also able to see matters from the perspective of elites. Neither of these is easy. Without forgiveness it is impossible for trust to be restored, and unless trust can be restored there is no way for there to be beneficial relationships within institutions, which is an intolerable situation. And understanding how elites really behave would help resolve some of the conspiracy theories that tend to run rampant. Most of the time, elites do not appear to operate with any deliberate conspiracies or plans. What tends to happen is that people like to work with those they trust, and so people with the same general worldview who work under the same general assumptions, all of whom believe that they are doing the best for those they govern and lead, are going to work with a small group of people and probably will not even think of how they are viewed by outsiders. In turn, they will find that those who are outsiders who view their actions critically (as I tend to do by nature) are threats, people who want their power and positions for themselves. For the record, I harbor no such personal ambitions.

My ambitions are rather modest as a person. I want opportunities to use my God-given talents in a way that leads to a respectable lifestyle. I want a loving wife, a happy family, and the respect and honor of my family and friends, and the general populace. I have no lust for great wealth or power, but I want to leave this world better than I found it, to struggle successfully with the burdens that I have been given with no say or choice in the matter. To do this I will need to develop a better capacity to trust, more loving relationships, and learn both to feel and to show respect and consideration for others. Though I wasn’t born to be a courtier, I may at least become someone who is civil and polite, and more comfortable in whatever station I find myself, not driven by fear or anger or lust or any other such negative emotions. Whether I am ever able to be less critical and less of an outsider is anyone’s guess, but we shall see.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/a-refracted-mirror-consensus-building-in-autocratic-regimes/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to I Wasn’t Born To Be A Courtier

  1. Pingback: The Exigencies Of The Moment | Edge Induced Cohesion

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