May 22, 2009

Polarizing Figures

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 4:51 pm

The thing about working somewhere, anywhere, hanging your hat on principles, standing up for something or just having an opinion, those things all have a tendency to polarize people.  Half of the people are going to praise you for what you believe and how you operate with such conviction, half of the people will likely see you as a fake and think you a flaccid ninny with all the vigor of freshly boiled spaghetti.

It’s inescapable.  There are many reasons why people won’t trust you in the short term, fewer in the long term, but many are valid and simply insurmountable.  Many aren’t valid, they are petty, insipid manifestations of inadequacy or retribution or resentment; but they ain’t goin nowhere.  It’s OK,  we all do it.  We’re simple beings with emotions beyond our control.

Of course, there are a lot of people that aren’t polarizing at all.  They float along; they actually aren’t much worth talking about either.

You know something?  I like polarizing figures.  I enjoy someone that brings out passion in people and wants to make change.  The people that truly care and are willing to stand up for something, to shake you a little and get you to listen, even with weary ears, are needed to make things better.

If you think of any historical figure in the history of man, I’ll bet dollars to donuts they polarized the masses in one way or another.  Go beyond political figures as they are naturally polarized (the system is set up to keep us feuding over petty spoils while the lions share is divvied amongst a select few).  Think about people that truly changed things.  Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Joan of Arc, Jackson Pollock, Thoreau, Montaigne, St. Augustine, Jesus, Isaac Newton, Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Beethoven, Bonaparte, Einstein, Ford etc.

It’s tough to argue any other way when you think about it.  The real change comes from those who challenge the status quo, for good or bad.  Not all polarizing figures had great ideas or set out to make the world a better place, unfortunately.

I see more and more polarizing figures as I go.  Maybe I’m looking for them now; maybe there tend to be more where I happen to be.  Maybe both.

You shouldn’t feel bad for being polarizing people.  You should embrace that some are going to love you, some are going to abhor you.  Just don’t let them stop you, via praise or persecution, of carrying out your mission.  Whatever that may be.


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