Dale Carnegie He’s Not!
Dale Carnegie died in 1955, more than 60 years ago. Still, the book he wrote in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People, remains very popular. How popular? No. 11 on the Amazon Chart (if I’m reading it correctly.)
Mr. Carnegie’s message has always been simple: Make people like you and help them see things your way. The message resonates, even if his style—a bit hucksterish—does not sit well with everyone. And it works! I know plenty of people—including one regular MRW reader—who followed the path, with significant success.
I mention Mr. Carnegie for a reason. He offered optimism. He saw a big wide world, conquerable by those who put themselves in the right frame of mind to succeed. His program emphasized the individual, and what he or she (he died in 1955, remember) could accomplish through attitude and effort. Does this sound like one our two political parties core message? Heck yes!
America aka Trumpland
And yet, and yet, there this. Harvard Student Says He Was Barred From U.S. Over His Friends’ Social Media Posts. Ismail Ajawi, a Palestinian from Lebanon, gets accept by Harvard. He arrives. Nine hours later—after, apparently, fully cooperating with ICE personnel—he’s headed home. Why? Agents didn’t like what his friends have shared on social media. Not him. His friends.
Mr. Ajawi will survive. I expect that he will be enjoying the turning of the leaves, and the end of summer before it. Harvard matters here, and his story will turn out okay in the short run.
On the other hand, at every turn we’re telling the rest of the world, F*** You! Central American children. Decent people trying to escape awfulness in the Middle East and elsewhere. People whose lives we’ve made better with the Peace Corps, the Foreign Agriculture Service, and other foreign aid programs. Even American citizens in Puerto Rico, who President Donald Trump trashed on Twitter, as Hurricane Dorian got close to the island.
The Future, Someday
Do we think these people will forget these slights? Uh, no! They will recall what America says about itself—give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free—and remember their own experiences.
Most of the people we treat poorly will surely live lives of quiet desperation. Some, though, will surely react adversely to their experiences with Exceptional America. What will they do? No one knows, but if anyone thinks we’re not making enemies as we bluster along, s/he’s not paying attention! And, frankly, enemies with not so very much to lose. People who measure the difference between a living hell and death in microns.
The fact that those who blather about American Exceptionalism and optimism do so much to undermine American values fascinates me. What scares me? The same thing. That we have decided to create a generation of foreigners who don’t like us. With plenty of good reason.
The Republican Party in the Donald Trump era has wandered away from what it once was. (I know plenty of former Main Street Republicans: bankers, real estate professionals, business owners, dentists and doctors, etc. They vote D now.) Core values, like treating people well and trying to get them to see things your way, have been abandoned. (Think: the Dale Carnegie method.)
Treating people badly never works. Never! Sadly, though, treating The Other as if she or like something subhuman reflects those who Rs have elected.
The Post Script
I think much about what ails us in this area tracks back to a Because I Said So mentality. Our leaders care not at all about real lives. How can they, what with re-election worries, photo ops, important meetings, and parties? What we get with all of this are attempts to ignore the problems. Shh, don’t think about it, and it never happened. Because, as it is with the bear in the woods who we never heard, if we didn’t hear it, it never happened.