Appearances and Diplomacy

(A bit of Philippine politics in this post, if that sort of thing bothers you)

Recently as the whole world watched one of our political leaders display his expected lack of diplomatic finesse on the global stage, I couldn’t help but think about how in my younger days there’s a good chance I might have approved of his frank, straight-talking, shoot-from-the-hip brand of diplomacy. I have a bit of a reputation myself for preferring to speak frankly and directly instead of dancing around the issues, although these days I understand the wisdom of adapting to the situation as needed

In my youth I was the sort of person who disdained those who prioritized form over substance. For this reason I disliked protocol and ritual and dress codes and formalities and all that. I imagine that IT people are notorious for preferring casual dress and disliking suits. I proudly enjoyed games with dated graphics when other people would fawn over the latest Crysis or whatever. I felt that anyone who prioritized appearances was somehow shallow and that one should focus more on the functional and practical. This is somewhat related to my views on lying and salesmanship

As I got older though, I began to appreciate that sometimes appearances can matter too. Formalities and rituals can have meaning, especially when other people value them. And sometimes you have to dress up, either to impress people, or to fit in with the situation. These are concessions one has to make in order to be member of society. As Sheldon Cooper would say, “it’s the social convention”. I guess I consider learning to navigate society’s social conventions is part of being a mature adult

Which is part of why the current leadership’s lack of diplomacy is so annoying for me personally. It smacks of immaturity. Reacting to criticism with cussing and swearing and dredging up century-old mistakes and calling other people gay, these are behaviors I’d (sadly) expect from a 10 year old on XBox Live, not the leader of a sovereign nation.

And supporters will say at least he’s honest and direct and real. I’m pretty sure I’m honest and direct and real (ask anyone!) and I don’t go around swearing at people just because they point out my faults. There’s no reason to antagonize people just because they don’t agree with you. It’s possible to disagree and still be diplomatic. Not even the leadership of North Korea talks like that. Well, I could talk my head off politics if given the chance, so I’ll just abruptly end this post here

 

 

1 thought on “Appearances and Diplomacy”

  1. “There’s no reason to antagonize people just because they agree with you. ”

    I think you meant *don’t agree with you. Hehe. Tsaka marami kang sentences na walang period. Lel.

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