Charm Offensive

Being charming and being offensive at the same time is tricky.   It's also fascinating, an entire Hollywood genre.

Anti-slavery advocate John Brown may be my hero... he created a space for Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas to work inside.   But if you don't have a popularity guru, and aren't part of a Lincoln-F.Douglas team, it does help to build up chits, credits, and bitcoins of goodwill.  Count your cultural ammo before you embark on something really worth being contrary over.  It's not a secret, but it has to be a habit, like a banker saving interest, or a cowboy counting his bullets.

Sometimes we discover an injustice in our group, and we have to buy or earn attention to it, until we recruit our Great Communicator like Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain, or Frederic Douglas.

Until then, how do we promote justice while remaining acceptably affable?   How do we communicate the need for change to people who aren't really in the business and whose attention we are borrowing?  It's kind of like selling Civil Rights Movements at a Little Rock Garden Club meeting, or Women's Suffrage to a Chicago Country Club, in 1925.

Take note of what you are spending with this Charm Econ earnings report by Sebastian Drake.

13 Characteristics of Likeable People by Sebastian Drake
1. Smiling 
2. Eye contact – 
3. Touch – 
4. Not talking about yourself – 
5. Not talking too much 
6. Empathy – 
7. Not trying to impress – 
8. Showing praise and appreciation – 
9. Never criticizing, ever, for any reason –

10. Not trying to fix other peoples’ problems
11. Eliminate negativity 
12. Never complain –

13. Never impose weakness on others

Maybe we can assign earnings per day to each habit and treat it like a checklist.  Follow these steps, and be less unpopular.  But when is Charm over-rated?
I have a lot of concern about the charm of the Deep South.   I grew up in the Ozarks, and it's culturally different - more gritty and less magnanimous - than the Deep South cities like Huntsville, Little Rock, New Orleans, or Atlanta.
The Deep South has all the charm.  When I bring in-laws from France to visit my family in the southern USA, they are always impressed, whether they speak English or not, by the mastery of manners and charm.  What little they know about American history includes the Southern Racism chapters... Chapter 1-13.
As a modern Southerner who was always on the low end of charming, who renounced popularity to pursue Plato, Siddhartha, Arjuna fantasies in Africa and New England, I talk about myself too much.   And I talk too much period.  I try to impress, I criticize, and complain, and pour negativity into the protected Club environment of "Green Sustainability".
Here's a justification.   We learned in the South that we could check off Sebastion Drake's guidelines 1-13 with polish and flair if we defined the group we are trying to charm in a narrow way.  We didn't whip the slaves ourselves, someone did that for us.  We learned you can be the most popular person in a room full of charming, likeable people if there were No Coloreds and no Ozark rednecks allowed.
So, what have I learned at mid-century?
You can earn charm currency if you can master good habits.   And you can create something like a wicked gambling addiction if you habitually risk offending.  Like a soldier who cannot adjust to peacetime, you can piss away goodwill with important people by droning and posturing and ignoring the strain in listeners eyes.
What we need is actuarial, statistical, risk-benefit analysis.   Because being the most charming racist in the most elite Southern country club is not that far from "first against the wall come the revolution".  And being the most respected, honored, and emulated Green Citizen in the environmentalist beauty pagent won't mean much if you leave a legacy of dredging coral reefs for non-toxic "tin solder", or charging a system billions of dollars to turn mercury lamps into poisoned African river fish, or turn Egyptian revolutionary CRTs into piles of waste glass in the desert of Yuma.
The key in the analogy is to be popular with people who are in the actual majority, to count the votes of the dispossessed.  As Tom Friedman says, the World is Flat, and we can write things that offend people if they lift the shackles for people who are being ignored.
Science and facts and statistical risk, filtered through popular media, which is a finite bandwidth selling itself with cognitive risk.
Whether we charm, or whether we defend, it is the metal of justice we must melt, sharpen, sinter.  We just make the decision that Huck Finn made, and accept hell if it's to protect the rights and dignity of people who were never invited.  Environmentalists risk creating rules that black Africans and South American ghetto techs, Egyptian geeks, and Asian techs, were never invited to vote in.
I'm just incredibly lucky and thankful that intelligent people who have more charm than I have recognize that for my terrible score on the Drake Exam, I've got a purpose which transcends the importance of my charm score.   As my dad always says, you can take your cause too seriously so long as you don't take yourself too seriously.

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