Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Phil Mickelson and the Quiet Part: Sunday musings…3/13/2022

Sunday musings…2/13/22

1. Spring. Spring forward. Today is the first day of Daylight savings time.

No deep meaning. Just a PSA in case you missed the memo

2. Host. For some inexplicable reason my personal blog, Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind, has been held hostage by a virus on the server where it lives. Since Super Bowl Sunday (all caps!) I have been unable to post anything.

My internal hard drive is so full it’s ready to burst.

So I’m just gonna set it all down here and flood those servers with my drivel once they open the door.

3. P.J. O’Rourke. “Jesus said to love your enemies. He didn’t say not to have any.” –P.J. O’rourke

At the moment I am advising a highly competent and accomplished colleague who has been the recipient of an unearned attack by someone who believes they are in power. My colleague is concerned that their response, if they choose to make one, will inevitably result in the creation of an enemy. Now, there are a plethora of other quotes about making enemies, most of which I only know without also knowing their provenance. “If you’re not making any enemies you’re not trying hard enough.” “Having the conviction of your beliefs means having enemies.” Stuff like that. Here’s mine (offered here and elsewhere previously):

It’s perfectly OK to make an enemy as long as you do it on purpose. Doing so allows you to assess the potential consequences beforehand and consciously decide if those outcomes are worth defending whatever your position, claim, or belief might be. The obverse is actually not quite as intuitive: to make an enemy by accident means that you are either intellectually careless, did not assess the ground adequately and missed considering a potential enemy, or indifferent to the very existence of the accidentally made enemy.

For whatever it’s worth I have advised my friend to respond to the attack upon them. They are being bullied by an individual who is laying claim to a space they have no right to claim. There may be blowback, but in the end my colleague will prevail, a newly created enemy left behind and defeated at the same time.

While I am considering the concept of enemyhood (should be a word), another quote comes to mind, also considered here and elsewhere in the past: Do not mistake my silence for agreement with you or your position, or my kindness as a sign of weakness. Everyone has a point beyond which they cannot be pushed. Upon reaching that point some will sadly be utterly defeated and capitulate. Others will fight. More than that, they will fight to win.

When Hell freezes over, they lace up their skates and fight on.

4. Bell. “Mickelson’s mistake was saying the ‘quiet part’ out loud.” (Commentary on the golfer Phil Mickelson and his open discussion of his decision to be paid by groups with less than exemplary reputations in their non-golf endeavors)

Oh boy. How good is this?! You read this and you instantly know what the author is saying. No matter what you do, or to whom you speak and what you speak about, there is often a subtext to the conversation that is mostly left unsaid. Perhaps in acknowledgement that it is distasteful, or a merciful and respectful nod to the fact that it is hurtful, but for some reason the “quiet part” is mostly seen in the knowing nod rather than heard by even the keenest of ears. Mickelson says that all money is the same, and goes on to equate his grievances with how the “masters” running professional golf treat the players, with the human rights abuses of his new potential partners. That’s the “quiet part” previously left unsaid by all of the other pros who’ve taken similar money from the same people.

Mickelson’s sin was saying it out loud.

In my professional world I have a podcast called “Eye Care Out Loud”, a nod to my penchant for saying what many of my professional colleagues are thinking but not saying. In truth most of what I am saying is “out loud” only in that it is published; most of us have open conversations about our issues, but have them out of earshot of anyone who one could call “media” of any sort. Controversy is an over-call. Here I must confess that I am conflicted when it comes to Mickelson’s particular admission. You see, he is a professional golfer who is getting paid to do something related to golf. Some would say that his brash honesty is actually something akin to bravery. Others, and I feel that I lean a bit more in this direction, are more of the mind that his admission is tone deaf at best, and approaching something that feels almost vulgar.

There are “quiet parts” everywhere. Some of them are spectacular, skeleton-in-the-closet kinds of things, but many are small, personal tragedies or hardships that are hard to talk about and maybe harder to hear about. Is it good that we have people who will say the “quiet part” out loud, or do they earn the condemnation so often directed their way? For me I think the answer to that lies in yet another question directed toward me by a trusted colleague for whom I have the greatest respect: “What if you are wrong?” You are on the wrong side of a moral issue, or you are simply wrong on the facts.

I’m afraid that this is going to be yet another “Sunday musings…” without a conclusion, without a clear message. Sometimes the “quiet parts” desperately need to be said out loud, but there is a reason that they are quiet to begin with, eh? Shining a light on injustice kept quiet is most likely a good thing, though being the one to turn on the light often brings with it consequences. Like making an enemy. I guess the lesson may be that it is important to know what the “quiet parts” are before you start talking. After all, whether quiet before or not, once said out loud they are no longer the “quiet parts”.

As Phil Mickelson discovered, you can’t un-ring a bell.

I’ll see you next week (if the servers allow)…

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