April 5, 2009

Avoiding Burnout - Principle Before Association

Coming to terms with the likelihood that our government was in any way complicit in the attacks of 9/11 is a highly challenging paradigm shift to undergo. In the process many basic assumptions about our society are called into question and once we jump down that rabbit hole it's nearly impossible to get back out. You can't really unlearn the truth.

For this reason the 9/11 truth movement engages people on a profoundly deep psychological level. Our concern for the issue and the work we do to promote it feel very personal. At a certain point we may have a difficult time separating our sense of self from our concern for the truth. As a result, any sense of failure, setback, or roadblock can seem particularly upsetting. And the more upset we become, the more likely we are to distance ourselves from involvement in promoting the issue.

As burnout is both likely and detrimental to the movement, it is important for people to learn about ways to avoid it. There are a number of resources that discuss the issue (link to the right), but not many directly related to the 9/11 truth movement. For that reason I have started this blog on the assumption that directly addressing the issue is an important part of dealing with it.

My approach is radical honesty. Certainly appropriate for a 'truth movement.' I believe that one of the primary reasons why people become incapacitated by frustration is that we are all too prone to political correctness. We don't want to step on anyone's toes and the result can be that we don't end up expressing important feelings and thoughts. Others may share our concerns and yet many of us choose solidarity and politeness over expressing what we really believe.

Along those lines I have a number of suggestions that I will express in a series of posts in order to avoid one long post that people might be less likely to read.

Principle before association

This is more easily understood than it is practiced. Basically, my commitment to the truth is stronger than my commitment to any person, group, or even movement. That might seem counter-intuitive in some ways. We have to support the movement in order to have one. And yet the big question is what movement are we supporting. Do we support a movement rife with disinformation? And at what point is the apple just too rotten?

Like the frog sitting in the pot of ever hotter water until it dies, it is very difficult for most of us to break from those around us and acknowledge when some person or group is being counter-productive. We don't want to cry wolf and we don't want to be ostracized from our group. And yet it is exactly this lack of responding to something that troubles us that leads to frustration and burnout.

We need to speak up and be honest about how we feel and what we think.

To draw upon my own experience, I risked a certain amount of ridicule for having challenged the promotion of Steve Alten's "The Shell Game." I got an advanced copy, read it, and simply felt that it didn't express movement values. It had some movement facts included between chapters, but that seemed to me an afterthought meant to capitalize on the movement. As Alten and many of the movement's most prominent participants advocated promoting the book during the "Week of Truth," I continued to criticize the book and question the wisdom of pushing a book that seemed to suggest that the movement advocated false-flag hysteria.

Here's the point. It felt good! I really felt a sense of liberty and commitment to my values in going against the prevailing winds and sticking to my guns. If I hadn't I would have silently stewed in my frustration and felt a sense of pessimism. Expressing myself reinforced my commitment to valid information and productive strategy and made me feel more committed to the movement and it's values.

So next time someone advocates ineffective strategy or poorly founded speculation, speak up! I've found that if you do so in a respectful manner that you are likely to discover that others share your feelings. Some may not understand. There may be some negative consequences. But the core values that got us into this movement in the first place are more important than whether we rub some of our peers the wrong way on occasion.

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