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    • This was a brilliantly crafted response, James. Not saying I’m 100% on everything, but even on those parts where my views may diverge I appreciated the effort put into expressing yours. I always feel like I learn something from reading your responses.

      There’s a book called “Mastery” by George Leonard that talks about our self-destructive culture focused on instant success. Taking the time to become a master musician like Yoyo Ma or a literary craftsman like Stephen King can take decades to achieve. And yet I see articles on Medium and elsewhere on how you can achieve success as a writer in “Three Easy Steps” or similar shortcuts to success BS.

      Influence requires a similar long-term effort to become someone people will want to listen to. Think of how long Neil deGrasse Tyson’s journey was to become the voice of science that people actually listen to and trust, his stabbing poor Pluto in the back even forgiven.

      Further reading

      “He stood at the heart of the controversy over Pluto's demotion, and consequently Plutophiles have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third-graders.”

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    • @StephenL When I try to communicate the viewpoints of other people I'm not necessarily in agreement with either side of an issue I'm discussing.

      However, if you are addressing the topic of influence vs. intimidation, there I have a most definite position.

      One of the main reasons that I oppose many of the attempts by the so-called religious right to legislate religious beliefs is because I do not believe that the main purpose of Christ's crucifixion is external behavior modification. I believe that the main purpose of evangelism is internal mental transformation.

      One of the main conflicts between the rabbis and Jesus was often not a disagreement over what the law said but over what the overall purpose of the law was.

      For example, both Jesus and the Rabbis agreed that the law taught that the Israelite was not to engage in work on the seventh day of the week. They disagreed very strongly on the purpose of that law. Jesus was constantly demonstrating that they were inconsistent in their reasoning concerning that law.

      They circumcised male babies on that day.

      They untied their animals and led them to water on that day.

      Jesus told them that one of their main problems was that they were evaluating things based on the external appearance of something and not based on the righteous principle which was the foundation of the law in question.

      Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the <earlier> ancestors); and on the sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken; are you furious with me, because I made a man entirely whole on the sabbath? Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

      This idea that behavior modification is not the main goal also underlies what Paul wrote about the supremacy of love.

      And if I bestow all my goods to feed <the poor,> and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it is of no benefit to me.

      I said all that to make the following point: Intimidation does not change the heart, it only changes the conduct. Influence can change the hearts of some or all of those who are influenced.

    • A lot of people on social media are posting based on their emotional reaction/response to something rather than thinking things through in a rational way. That’s what makes it hard to have real dialogue.

    • I was thinking more along the lines that, as you increase a person's social "range" (for want of a better word), maybe you also diminish their sense of self.

      Fair enough.

      Yet, those of us with quite limited social "range" may also fully recognize that 'sense of self' is a lot more than just words on a screen.