Beware the Pied Piper

Originally published on DAsherPOV.blogspot as Emotions Are Not Facts.

Some of us are more demonstrative with our emotions while others more stoic.  We often presume to know another by what we observe. However, we must be mindful that emotions, or lack of, are not an accurate measurement of the depth of one’s feelings, knowledge, or beliefs.

Emotions Are Feelings

We are unable to listen to each other for yelling and attacks assaulting our senses on what seems to be a daily occurrence.   Our emotions kick-in.  If the assault is supportive of our beliefs we feel vindicated.  If  our beliefs are being assaulted we we feel victimized. Feelings are valid but that does not make them fact-based. 

 Emotions Are Not Facts

Our emotions can put blinders on our reasoning.  We can’t let trivial things like facts get in the way of how we feel.  Those pushing an agenda use this knowledge to their advantage.  They count on us not recognizing that emotions are filtered by our life experience, are inherently impartial, and can create a high probability of flawed decision making.

This is not to say that feelings and emotions are inconsequential.  Quite the opposite.  Having emotions are what makes us human and are the driving force for improving the human condition. Using emotion can inspire us to seek improvement in ourselves and betterment of others.  But it is also the force behind much evil that has been perpetrated in the world.

Piped Piper Effect

How humanity progresses depends on rather we can see past our emotions and not fall victim by allowing others to exploit them.  Let’s call it the Pied Piper Effect.  When we automatically “fall in line” without critically evaluating and reevaluating our position we run the risk of the Pied Piper Effect.

The Pied Piper understands a certain stance (usually labeling) will be advantageous to the objective at hand.  By playing to specific emotions we will follow blindly, never questioning, not listening to opposing viewpoints, never admitting the fallacies of others or our own, and being forever loyal.   It is to the Pied Piper’s advantage to create an us-against-them mentality.

Break the Spell

It is time that each of us recognized the Pied Piper Effect.  See it for what it is.  It is about power not service.  It is about building up by pulling others down.  It is polarizing.  It plays on fears not hope.  It does not move us forward.  It does not discriminate based on religion, politics, gender, age, sex, race, culture, city, state, region, country of origin, education level, income level, conservatism, liberalism, or affiliations of any kind.

The Pied Piper Effect is prevalent because it is the path of least resistance.  Doing what we have always done.  Thinking the way we have always thought.  We must be as diligent in examining ourselves as we are finding imperfections with others.  Step out of our comfort zones.

Seek and be open to new knowledge, in order to be independent thinkers, and do our best to prevent the Pied Piper Effect.

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What Do Our Ripples Say About Us

Do you ever think about the number of choices we make everyday?  Perhaps we don’t think much about it. Maybe we should. I contend that every single choice we make has a ripple effect.  That ripple can be positive or negative.

Recently, I was having dinner with a friend who is a teacher.  As it turned out our server was a past student.  He gave us an update on what he had been doing since graduation.  Before leaving he shared one of his best memories of high school.  He came to my friend’s class and she told him he did not look well.  He confirmed he didn’t.  During class he put his head down and subsequently fell asleep.  When he awoke he was surprised to find it was the next period and a different class of students surrounded him.  My friend told him he was sick and needed to go to the nurse so he could go home.  He told us he couldn’t believe that she had allowed him to sleep in class and not be in trouble.  It was the nicest thing a teacher ever did for him.

As he left the table my friend said, of all the things I do for students, I am remembered for letting someone sleep during class when he was sick.  I said what better way is there to be remembered than as caring and kind.  A choice. A ripple that was felt years later.

Last night I was at a high school basketball game.  I heard someone call my name.  I turned and recognized one of my students (I do not know him well, in fact, I do not know his name).  He had a money in his hand and asked if I had $2.  I thought he may have wanted something from concessions and did not have enough money.  I said I might and turned to check when I remembered I did not have my purse.  I told him and said what do you need?  He didn’t have enough money to get into the game.  I was going to my car to get the money when the person working the gate overheard us talking. She took half the entry fee and let him into the game.  As she stamped his hand she said, I just want you to remember this, when you get a chance to help someone that is short on money in the future, I want you to do it.  A choice in hopes of creating a ripple.

As for me I felt happy.  I must have made choices with my interactions with students that gave this one the confidence to ask me for help, even if it was just $2.   A simple situation such as this makes me feel that I am getting it right.  I know it is impossible for one principal to have a personal relationship with 2,000 students.  The choices I make each and everyday when interacting with them create ripples.

It is the unintended consequences of choices, the simplest of choices, made on a daily basis that have the greatest ripple effect on those around us, and therefore, ourselves.  It is the smallest of pebbles dropped in the water, again and again, rather than a onetime boulder, that ultimately define our impact.  The best part?  We have a lifetime of pebbles to choose from.  If we choose the wrong one we get another chance to get it right.  If we have the awareness to do so.