Vanity and difference…

If I’ve learned anything over the past week, it’s that no matter how genuinely respectful your tone, no matter how much practice you’ve put into avoiding becoming a didactic ass, no matter how much you yourself may be a stakeholder, no matter how much the extent of your empathy, no matter how much you’ve read on the topic, no matter how much charity of interpretation you’ve already extended to parties who’ve otherwise been denied it, no matter how many times you’ve kept quiet so someone else could have their say, and no matter how much good faith has been invested in your inquiry, some people are always going to regard explanations for why your opinion differs, or why you’re coming at a question from a certain angle, as condescending. For some people, anything less than silence or uncritical agreement is going to be treated as condescension, not because it’s actually condescending, or politically suspect, but because you’re dealing with narcissists and their enablers, and your differing assumptions, no matter how tentatively stated, and no matter how small the difference, are in disharmony with their particular articulation of a set of protected beliefs – the hill upon which they’ve built their throne.

If you’ve given one of these authority figures a narcissistic injury, good grief you’re going to pay for it. Or at least, that’s the commitment some people will adopt, albeit behind a tissue-thin veneer of denial, accompanied by vague allusions to principle.

~ Bruce

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