American gun policies and politics… These are the subjects I’m strategically mute when overseas, with locals and other foreigners.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” -Winston Churchill
I am an American. I am a patriot. I love my country. I’ve given irrevocable chunks of life to her with no regret.
But make no mistake, I don’t believe it’s the “best” country in the world, far from it, but it is MY country.
This is a difficult concept to shed for any born and bred American with no experience of the rest of the world.
The more you know other nations, different cultures and conflicting ideals, the more you can judge and understand your own country, values and methods.
We Americans carry a stigma that’s universally notorious, even to the many peoples of nations that ironically come to America for the “American Dream”.
This social stigma is nothing new although it only strengthens as does the reach of media.
I’ve experienced this badge of disapproval first hand in so many countries with the locals and other foreigners almost as many times I’ve made friends with them.
So it’s hardly (or at least very rarely) about antagonistic discrimination, actual hate or racism.
But the American stigma is real.
It’s usually in good fun or for a good debate but sometimes it’s annoying and senseless. And it always comes down to the generalization of the American obsession with guns and abominable politics.
Early in my vagabonding lifestyle, I would always speak out, fiercely but logically in defense of America.
But every conversation became argumentative, even combative and always unpleasant. It was about who’s wrong (USA) and who’s right but rarely about what’s right. Who’s to blame (USA) and who’s the victim.
Debates turned into shouting matches and the almost always outnumbered Americans within any given group suddenly became Bush disciples.
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” -Robert Frost
Now when the topic of the United States concerning anything political or firearm related come up among friends or strangers, I sit silently and listen carefully.
In my experience, it’s these two topics that get people the most riled up in group discussions, showing their true colors while attempting to retain decorum.
Body calm and mind clear, it’s in these moments I can learn about not just the people of different nationalities but people in general. By not being personally or judgmentally vested, I can pay attention to what others have to say and what they really feel.
It gives me an insight to what and how they think.
In the long run, this social strategy makes me a better judge of character and a more articulate communicator.
In the short run, if I feel like it…
After everyone has exhausted their energy, opinions and ideas, but more importantly after I’ve developed an understanding for their position to the extent of sympathizing, then I can strike with my killing words.
Effectively ending and winning the debate.
This is one of the most powerful positions you can have among a social gathering / discussion / event.
Being mysterious and being not understood, not to be confused with misunderstood – the wildcard.
“Stealth cognizance is a means to have more control over another by showing less direction, being in a stronger position by appearing weaker than you actually are and taking everything in before acting.” -John Cain
I’d much rather converse about life, philosophy, women, travel, and the Yankees.
[The featured photo was taken in Istanbul, Turkey.]