IMHO Installment #49: You Can Be Right About Everything If Only You'd Agree With Me

25 May 2007
It is allowed on all hands, that the primitive way of breaking eggs, before we eat them, was upon the larger end; but his present majesty's grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon the emperor his father published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their eggs. The people so highly resented this law, that our histories tell us, there have been six rebellions raised on that account; wherein one emperor lost his life, and another his crown. These civil commotions were constantly fomented by the monarchs of Blefuscu; and when they were quelled, the exiles always fled for refuge to that empire. It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death, rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end. Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy: but the books of the Big-endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party rendered incapable by law of holding employments.
~ That's J-to-tha-Swift from Gulliver's Travels

Despite my general abhorrence of sales people, I have to admit a bit of a cognitive dissonance. "Marketing," as you surely know, shares a close relationship with "sales." As such, I've attended numerous professional development seminars on either topic, sometimes both, over the past 15 years. Most consultants attempt to distinguish the two professions by reasoning that marketing is how a company develops leads (through advertising, PR, web sites, newsletters, direct mail, etc.), and sales describes the one-on-one, face-to-face, deal-closing process. Only, these things still aren't distinct disciplines.

Proposals, for example, might well fall into either category. Some view them as professional communications; others as critical sales documents. Same for web sites, if you're ecommerce-enabled. And most marketing, even if it's only done with an eye toward branding, has the ultimate goal of revenue generation, anyway. Really, you can get all philosophical if you want and assert that, no matter what you do for a living, it's sales.

But, I won't bore you with shop talk. I was just thinking about one such seminar this morning and recalled a quote with which I've been fascinated for some time -- one I'll share in a moment, and one that is perhaps even more applicable to the world in general than it is to the enclave of sales and/or marketing professionals to whom it was directed (although in a different context). Additionally, and quite unfortunately, I also can't pass along the author's identity, as that could possibly, via some research on your part, shatter the grand illusion that is "Patrick Hillman," that beacon of reason that is (Cool, I just linked to myself!) But, I did want to at least share the quote. It is:

The world doesn't care what you believe; it just reflects it back to you as truth.

Pretty heavy stuff, eh? I thought it was profound at the time -- and still think it's pretty good (which is why I selected purple for the text color). I mean, who knew?? Wisdom at a sales seminar! But, let's take a closer look at that statement. Whatever you happen to believe, it's saying in a nutshell, you'll come to find supporting evidence for it in the world. That's perfectly true, isn't it?

Religious folk, Agnostics, Atheists, Political Leftists, Political Rightists, Evolutionists, Creationists, Scientists, Mystics, Global Warming proponents, Global Warming opponents, Conspiracy Theorists, Pro-War, Anti-War, Pro-lifers, Pro-choicers, Feminists, Men's Movement people, Big-endians and Smaller-endians alike -- all support, justify, and rationalize their perspectives with what they believe to be incontrovertible "evidence" or conclusions arrived at via direct experience and/or through their own deduction (or, via a posteriori and/or a priori means, for you philosophiles out there).

I have a very good friend who is a Hindu. He's got a great, entrepreneurial business mind. Regularly, for the past 10 years or so, we've discussed various business ventures designed to make us wealthy. He and I have been abducted by aliens together, have had our heads vacuumed together, and have instructed the next generation on the finer points of picking up women using nothing but chicken tikka. (All former blog entries.) Aside from the shenanigans, he's got an exceptional, rational mind ...

Yet, he also sincerely believes that, though rarely, marble statues of Ganesh actually drink milk offered to them in Indian temples.

I suppose the Christian version of this, by the way, would be the various reports of statues of the Virgin Mary crying -- though observe the inverse equivalency of these phenomena, the Virgin's miracle being excretive, the elephant's being absorptive. Is there a metaphor lingering there? I wonder.

Even for someone as rationally minded as myself, I must remark that the world's quite a magical place if it can so easily support such diametrically opposed viewpoints (not diametrical as in Christianity vs. Hinduism, but diametrical as in traditional full-on rationality vs. marble-drinking-milk mysticism). In reality, though, I think most members of the above-mentioned groups would probably concede that, no matter what anyone thinks about anything, the likelihood is that a singular, definitive stance on any of the above issues is, in the end, actually "correct," whatever that means to the universe. What that stance is, no one may ever know, of course -- but we're all betting that it's our own.

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On June 7, 2007, Winter wrote:

I am never right.

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