Wednesday, January 6, 2016

hold their feet to the fire

Lately when I read news stories, I think of a certain dynamic, or strategy -- when I began working as a lobbyist I learned about this strategy through a couple of conversations, sort of by coincidence. (Learn by doing. ...?)  A state government official told me that he was interested in the goals, challenges, and viewpoints of people in one of the organizations I was working for.

When I reported this back, cheerfully & all full of optimism, to a member of said organization, he wanted to negate the whole idea -- "He just said that to you, he doesn't care about us, he doesn't want to listen to our concerns."

And I only made up my answer on the spur of the moment because I had not known it before, thinking of it as I was saying it, basically -- I told him, "Well, whether he is completely sincere or not, he has said it.  He has said it to me, and I know it and he knows it, and he knows that I know that he knows it, & he also knows I'm going to tell you and all of the other organization members, that we have his ear, and we are part of the process now."

After I had worked for a longer time in lobbying,

I heard other people refer to this dynamic of -- basically -- It Doesn't Matter If they're Sincere, Or What They "REALLY" Want, They've Said It, We've Made A Deal, And Now We'll Hold Them To It.

A slang expression for this -- Holding Them To It -- was, "Hold their feet to the fire."  (Disclaimer:  that's just an expression; we did not build a fire in the capitol -- please do not call the ASPCP, [association for the prevention of cruelty to politicians].)


Another thing I learned from this -- I didn't really learn it at the time, I figured it out later -- the guy who insisted the government official didn't "REALLY" like us was typical, and illustrative, of a sort of short-term, one-dimensional thinking that you see a lot of, in life...folks who don't want to look at the bigger possibilities, they just want to say 'I don't like that guy and he doesn't like us and he's a liar.'

They want to rant, "He's got the power and he doesn't like us!" instead of focusing on their own power that they do have, or could have, if they'd use it right.  The core lesson there, though I didn't see it until much later, was -- there are a lot of people who would just rather fight and whine, then accomplish something.  They'd rather hate than build.  They want to engage in small-time bickering, and make that "The Point."

------------------------------ Back to the Holding-Their Feet-To-The-fire strategy:  it appears to me that this is the strategy of the U.S. and Europe, for helping the ME people join us in 21st Century living.  It's:  "OK, you say Islam is a peaceful religion -- show us."  Now they have to live up to it; they've made a deal....(Please, no one call Damascus and tell 'em the feet-to-the-fire expression, they might not "get it"...we don't want middle eastern Walmarts to experience "a run" on flame-retardant sandals ...)


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