The Art of Persuasion

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If you have a way with words you have the art of persuasion. That may be a positive or a negative trait depending on your character.

I loved speech class in high school. It was where I first found my voice. Before that class I was easily intimidated and wasn’t much for speaking out. I did not have faith in my abilities. The high school counselor questioned my choice as it didn’t seem to fit what others saw. I fell in love with speech and writing. I remember when I got an A+ on a humorous speech; I was amazed. I had agonized over the assignment. I was not a funny person. Apparently somewhere inside of me when it came to writing I could be funny. That speech pulled something out of me I never knew I had.

Fast forward to 2021. We seem to be in the throws of being persuaded by the words of people we do not know and we give them unswerving loyalty. They are good speechmakers, influencers, and persuaders. It’s funny but we tend to believe those whom we do not know over people we formerly trusted, all because of good verbal persuasion. We don’t see the need to check out the facts.

It’s apparent in society today. Some are pursuaded to send money to men or women overseas who they form a relationship with on the internet. They trust what they are being fed in the beautiful words they see on the screen or hear on the phone. The talk shows and news reports are full of people being scammed all in the name of love.

We pass around on social media those ads that say Kohl’s or Best Buy are going to give us $500 just for sharing a post. We share and no one sees the money. We believed without questioning that if a company did this they would be broke. The scams are rampant all because we believe charismatic words of a stranger.

Recently someone made the comment, “He’s such a Christian man.” The comment was made about a politician that said a beautiful prayer at the right time in front of millions of people. I’m not saying this person isn’t a Christian man. But the conclusion was this person prays a lot in public it and makes him someone we should believe and follow. But do we really know that? Do we know them in person?

There are televangelists that woo us with beautiful prayer, and dynamic sermons. If you look at their bank account you know they are successful at persuasion because people are tossing a lot of money at them. Maybe they do good things with the money but if you look at their lifestyle, it is a very lavish life they are living. Yet we don’t protest their power of persuasion. Their power is growing and our churches in our communities are floundering.

I am not a flowery prayer person despite being a writer. If I listen and read all these beautiful prayers in all the media today I tend to feel my prayers may not be good enough. I’ve gotten over that for a few reasons.

My faith has been built not on flowery prayers but on actions of people I love and trust, not by those that are always in the public eye praying for all to see, or persuading us with their charismatic speech.

When I think of the Christians in my life that have influenced me I think of my Grandma Krock. She could speak no English but she had a big impact on me by her actions. Each day she would sit by the window in her house or by the wood stove with a rosary in her hands praying the rosary. I don’t remember many conversations that I understood but I understood her faith and her rosary. I watched this until she died when I was 17.

Grandma Krock

I think of my Aunt Mary who every night after supper would sit down with her Bible, read it and pray quietly in her living room. I was young when I noticed that and I remember it still today.

I think of my friend Jan, who endured 24 years of cancer. I never heard her complain. She treated everyone with kindness and respect and I saw her live out her faith in her church attendance, her music and private time with the Lord. Plus keeping her faith always while enduring much.

These people who affected my faith life, didn’t shout it in public, didn’t shout their faith from the rooftops but by their actions they brought their faith to others in a way that was humble.

These three are only a few examples of the people in our lives that quietly lead us. I can’t say someone is one thing just by the words they produce in public. I know too many people who are one way in the public eye and another in private. Some may see me as that way. Perception. Can we view something honestly, if we only have the glitz of the public eye?

That doesn’t mean I don’t follow and read some prominent Christian writers. Max Lucado is one of my favorite. Do I think he’s a good Christian man? Yes, I do but do I know? I don’t know him personally. That doesn’t stop me from liking what he writes but also viewing it with an eye that knows there may be more underneath that isn’t what I read, so I know not to believe unconditionally. I write fiction for a living. What I write is my perspective, to be read with a watchful eye and mind knowing it is fiction. In today’s world I probably could convince someone that fictional Fuchsia exists.

Churches, our churches, have a hard time maintaining members. We throw money at online preachers but starve our churches. We believe charismatic people and belittle our Pastors. We put our trust in strangers words but don’t believe the words of those we know preaching in our hometown churches.

If you’re looking for church, most of our local community churches are now online. Listen to those you trust. Are they perfect? No. But you know them. You know their imperfections and their strengths. Put your trust in those you know personally.

Having said that I will tell you I love my church being online. I get why we follow popular online preachers. We can listen without getting involved in church politics. When I watch my church services online I love sitting back and hearing what is being said and sung, with my eyes closed savoring the words. I am not distracted by anyone else.

In my old years, thinking back, I realize some of the greatest controversy in my life has been church politics, arguing about things that don’t matter. I am not referencing biblical beliefs but insignificant things that gain too much importance in our home churches, such as who didn’t stack the silverware or who isn’t dressing in the correct way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It isn’t done that way.” In fact I’ve been told at one time my opinion on whether a group could meet in our church didn’t matter, because we weren’t one of the top givers. So I get it. Online we don’t have to deal with the church politics that are man made. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to believe and follow the people who are eloquent speakers that we don’t know because we don’t have to get involved.

At times, I have the art of persuasion. With it, comes a responsibility. My advice, look to what you know, the people you know and respect in your life. Look deep at how they live their lives. That’s the best persuasion.

Thank you Grandma Krock, Aunt Mary and Jan for letting me know what it means to be a Christian person. It’s up to me what I do with that.

To Mask or Not To Mask That Is The Question

That really wasn’t what I wanted to title this post but I thought it was nicer and kinder than what I wanted to name it. There are days I get tired of trying to be nice and tolerant and…see both sides of the coin and I can feel my angst getting there.

Social media is a hotbed of discussion on the wearing of masks and also whether we should open up again in the midst of this pandemic. We will get to some of those views later.

First I want to state I so feel for those without jobs right now. I do think we need to reopen but I feel to be safe we need to have some guidelines in place, and that is where the crux of the heated discussions come in.

Let’s tackle the death count first. There are those of you that think this is all a conspiracy. I have heard and seen the posts that the majority of those dying are in nursing homes so the rest of us are safe, and it is no worse then the flu. Nursing homes always have high death rates from the flu.

I wanted to title this column “Save the Babies, Kill the Old People” because some of the same people that are saying it’s ok to let the old people die are the same ones who would go to any lengths to save the babies. I think they both should be saved.

Does the normal flu kill those in nursing homes at a higher rate. I don’t know, but this pandemic does. When is the last time you heard of 47 people in one nursing home dying within days of each other and with some staff dying too? My mother died in 2002 in a nursing home. She caught a virus or bug. Probably Pneumonia. We sat with her the first few days and then we became sick, staying that way for weeks. My son took over the bedside holding of hands but in the actual time of her death, she was alone. When they called me to come at the final moments I was too sick to get out of bed. Not only did she die, days later her roommate died. But in no way did high numbers die.

The nursing home did an excellent job of taking care of her but nursing homes are not equipped for outbreaks of the flu or viruses. With Covid-19 if the same patients were in a hospital the people attending to them would be suited up with heavy safety measures. Nursing homes do not have this safety equipment and the aides and nurses that work there aren’t provided with the protection either. But those people that all of you are giving excuses as good reasons why they are dying from this virus in their homes, in an congregate living facility, are someones mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother or friend. Some are there because they are in their 80’s and 90’s and can no longer take care of themselves. Some are there because they have a disabling disease and are young and need care. Others are recuperating for a short time until they are well enough to go home. To dismiss this as being acceptable that their life can be ended because of their age is disgraceful. How do you think they caught that virus? Someone from the outside came in and gave it to them. That could have been you.

Now let’s get to the masks. I am coming to the conclusion that we may be a selfish society born of wealth and good living because we don’t want to take the time to do something that may or may not protect someone else. “I am not going to do it because it doesn’t benefit me. I am not going to do it because it doesn’t help. I am not going to do it because it makes me uncomfortable.” I get some of this. I am still that selfish person that may hide a cookie from you if it is the only one left or maybe want to hide my toilet paper. I get that because in my younger days it was more about me than anyone else, but hopefully age has brought to me the bigger picture.

The discussion I have been a part of is about businesses requiring customers and personnel to wear masks. It seems in small communities that have little confirmed cases, people and businesses are ignoring the safety of masks, maybe getting too comfortable in the “it can’t happen here” thinking. There is so much blah, blah, blah out there about it, some fabricated by self appointed guru’s that do not have any credible facts. Other facts come out of places like clinics and government agencies, but people are not believing the doctors and nurses on the front lines. Maybe we just can’t handle the actual truth or it would be too horrifying so we deem it as fake news.

Myself, I don’t like the masks but I will wear one. I learned the value of masks when I had friends who were ill and were going through cancer treatment. We wore masks to protect them. To me it is small thing to wear a mask. If it works to protect one person it is worth it. If I owned a small business I would have my employees wear masks, not only to protect them, but to protect my business from a lawsuit if an employee would get sick or a customer would get infected in my store. It is a small thing in the scheme of life to do. I don’t do it because the government orders me to. I do it because of my friends who are on the front lines in New York City, or my doctor friend in Sioux Falls, or my friend in British Columbia who is in quarantine from being exposed, or my American friends in China who know the value of masks and want to come home to the states to visit their family one day ,or my grandchildren that work in food service and are still working.

I will choose to shop in those stores that protect their workers or try to protect their workers. At least they are trying and the more we do that, the more people will get back to work. To me it is not acceptable to have so many food plant workers sick and dying because of this virus. To me it is not acceptable to have the elderly dismissed because they no longer seem to be a productive part of our society. Remember someday that might be you.

These are my thoughts, my opinion and any derogatory comments will be deleted. I value an opinion if it is provided respectfully and I will respect it too.

By the way, I have no credentials except that of being a writer and that is what I do, I write. So take my opinion or leave it. Your life and your opinion is in your hands.

Panic Attack! It’s Only Coffee…But

I almost had a panic attack Tuesday evening. I have this routine before I go to bed. I make my coffee so all I have to do when I am bleary-eyed in the morning is to punch the button. I knew I had finished my one container of coffee the day before, but I also knew I had another full container in the cupboard. However, now I am questioning everything I thought I knew.

I went to the cupboard. I found the can. It seemed awfully light. I pulled off the cover and it was…wait…for…it, EMPTY. My can of coffee was empty. There was no coffee. Did I put that empty can in the cupboard? Was I sleepwalking when I did it? I quickly dismissed the thought and blamed it on my Natasha, my crafty kitty who haunts my cupboards or tries to. Let’s pass the blame because I could not handle doing that to myself when it came to coffee.

Immediately I could feel the panic fill my body. There would be no coffee at 6:00 a.m. as I leisurely took my time waking and getting out of bed. Usually, I wallow and read in bed with my coffee at least for an hour. It is my routine. I could handle the not wallowing, but NO COFFEE? Tea wasn’t going to cut it.

Then came the what-ifs.  Would the grocery store let me do the curbside pickup for only coffee as I was stocked up on everything else I needed? And…I am leary about this old person going into a store where no one is wearing masks, That in itself brings panic because I know people in other areas mired in virus problems, and as much as we think we are safe in a low virus county, you never know. Still, even if I did do that in the morning there would be no coffee when I woke up.

It seems like a small thing and it is, but coffee helps because it is a routine and something stable in my life when all else seems to be upended.

Did I have anything stuffed in the freezer that I forgot about? I quickly dug in my freezer and pulled out an old bag of leftover beans that were hidden in the bottom of the freezer, enough to make a pot. But where was my coffee grinder? Did I even have one anymore?

That led to another foraging at night looking for my coffee grinder. I was a madwoman rummaging through cupboards where I stored that which does not get used often. I found it stuffed in the back under some other appliances I haven’t used in years.  I rushed it to the cupboard and put the old coffee beans, as in years and years old, in the grinder. I couldn’t get it to work. I dinged around for a short time and I found success, and ground my beans, dropping them into my Cuisinart, ready for the morning.

I didn’t sleep well that night wondering if I would be able to even drink the coffee. Would it be horrible because the beans were so old?  As I pried my sleepy eyes open and pondered the headache I had, I staggered to the kitchen and pushed the button. The coffee maker sprung to life. I pondered how to get some coffee without visiting the grocery store for one item. I know it seems silly, but did I also mention anxiety is my middle name and I like to avoid it at all costs? There was my neighbors, Brian and Tammy who I knew would go to the store for me, but they do so much for me I hated to ask them for just the coffee, and I feel though they are young and out and about, it is hard to ask for something so silly.

I decided that just once until I needed the next big grocery order to buy from my local grocery, because I believe in buying the things I need that are available in town, to order coffee online.  I thought I had enough beans for maybe two days although the taste wasn’t the best.  Buying online wasn’t an option if I needed it within the next day or so as shipping was two weeks out. I could feel the panic set in again along with my migraine pounding my head, so I gave it up and called my neighbor and he immediately brought my coffee.

As I ponder what I normally wouldn’t have gotten anxious about, which is going to the grocery store, I know I was overreacting. Everyone is going to the grocery store on their own in my community. Masks still haven’t been the norm and we don’t even know if they protect us, but they make some of us feel protected. Part of my anxiety is knowing my friends from all over the states and other countries who have the virus, lost loved ones or have medical conditions, and tell me this could come here easily and all it takes is one person out and about who infects others. We don’t have it in such numbers here but those friends are always in the back of my mind.

And then the thought came to me as I called my neighbor…what if there is no coffee? What if there is a shortage? There is no toilet paper but will we add coffee to the list? Coffee seems to be my security blanket in this time of fear. In the time of not knowing when we will be able to hug our children and grandchildren again. I can’t even go there thinking about how our interaction with other people is going to change. I can’t imagine never hugging anyone on a spur of the moment meeting again. So I choose coffee to panic about. I can’t go to the other possibilities in my mind. But I can do coffee. I can’t think about the hugs shortage that would go far beyond panic.

Let me panic about coffee. It is a small thing to obsess about because it doesn’t let me think about all the other places my mind could go. Let yourself have your feelings in this time about whatever insignificant thing is causing you to freak out. If it gets you through the bigger things then you have got this. Stay safe.

Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.

Martha Beck