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How do the good guys win?

April 11, 2013

It’s been a while since I posted anything new here. I’ve been busy with life type stuff and a lot of readin’ and thinkin’. Now it’s time to burden others with the results of all that readin’ and thinkin’.

Business

I own a small business (by my definition any sole proprietorship is a small business). I’m not as busy as I would like to be and while there may be multiple factors contributing to that there is one that stands out above all the others. I’m not marketing enough. So, clearly, I must: Market more and market more effectively. There’s more to it than that, though. I’ve come to realize that what other, far more successful, small business owners have been trying to get me to understand is true. If you own a small business you must understand that you are, first and foremost, a marketer! It doesn’t matter what kind of business it is. You are a marketer who happens to deliver a specific set of goods and/or services to your customers/clients. You are most emphatically not a mechanic/plumber/welder/hypnotist/chiropractor/life coach/contractor/etc who also happens to do his or her own marketing. This will be true for as long as you are a small business owner. You get to stop marketing the day you “close up shop” permanently. Until then, you simply must market or that day will come much more quickly than you want.

Gun control and narrative

I’ve been debating gun rights vs gun control for decades, though only recently online. Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the anti-rights folks…and many of the pro-rights people as well. My frustration with the anti-rights people is related to their tactics. My frustration with the pro-rights folks is due to our relative inability to capitalize on a victory. I’ve come to some conclusions that, while not original with me and perhaps not as profound as I like to think, seem to get to the heart of our difficulty in successfully defending our rights.
First, many gun owners seem to tend toward a “people just need to mind their own business” mindset. I know I certainly do. The problem with this is that once a battle is over, especially if we win, we tend to go back to minding our own business. This is a mistake! Those on the other side never go back to minding their own business. That’s simply because minding other people’s business is what they do. So, they don’t go back to something they were never doing. Instead, they keep on, always looking for a way to mind the business of others. This gives a clue as to why it is so hard to get a straight, honest answer to the question “how much restriction of gun rights is enough?” Many (though not all) of them are unwilling to admit the truth that to those who seek to deprive others of their rights, there will never be enough restriction of a given civil liberty as long as that liberty continues to exist in any form. 
For pro-rights people this means that regardless of the outcome of the current debate, even if we ultimately win big (which is far from guaranteed) we cannot let up. We must not simply go back to minding our own business while allowing ourselves to die a death of a thousand cuts. We must continue to work, continue to raise money and continue to grow and build.
In nature, there are two states. One is growth. The other is decline. The same is true of human endeavor and interaction. We grow or we decline. The idea of stasis is a lie. If we do not grow we decline. If we decline long enough, we simply wither away and die. The other side understands this very well. It’s past time for us to do the same.
Second, we simply must understand the concept of “narrative”, especially as it relates to post-modern thought. We can rail against post-modernism all we want. We can denounce it as fundamentally self-defeating and illogical. None of that will make it go away. 
I’m fifty years old. There’s a tendency for people my age and older to look at post-modern thought as a new thing, because so many of us were raised under a different world view. As a result, we fail to recognize that even in my generation there were a significant number of post-modernists. In successive generations that number has increased to the point that I believe post-modernists comprise a majority of the population. If we want to win this war, we must find a way to reach post-modernists!

This is where the idea of narrative comes into play. When we talk about the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, self-defense and opposing tyranny we are engaging in narrative. We are, in a very real sense, telling a story. This next part is vital, so pay attention. The narrative is not the story! The narrative is the telling of the story.The way we tell the story is vital. It’s easy to read this and think “yeah, okay, we have to tell the story well and frame our arguments correctly. Maybe we need some catchier ads…” That’s not the point and if we continue to think that way, I promise you, we will lose our Second Amendment rights, probably within my lifetime. Why do I say that? Because of the relationship between narrative and post-modern thought.
You see, for a post-modernist (or someone largely influenced by post-modern thought), truth is not found simply in the relating of facts. Truth is found in the encounter the audience has with the narrative. This explains, in part, why some anti-rights folks seem so willing to “make free and easy” with facts. It’s not simply that they are setting out to deceive. Rather, they are setting out to ensure their audience derives what they see as truth in their encounter with the narrative. Thus, they tell the story the way they do. Most of the anti-rights people I debate are honest folks. They don’t see themselves as lying when they distort or deny facts. They are simply telling the story to convey what they believe to be true. Many times they do so without even being aware of it. Remember, truth is found in the encounter between the audience and the narrative.
For pro-rights people this is a problem. Not simply because we don’t want to lie. That’s not the point. We don’t have to lie to change the narrative, nor should we. The problem is related to our failure to understand that the majority of the greater audience does not think the way most of those in positions of leadership in our major pro-rights groups do. These same leaders don’t understand this…largely due to age and training. As a result, we are preparing to fight the last war. Let’s look at the NRA (please note, I’m not bashing the NRA. I believe we go to war with what we have, not what we want and the current NRA/GOA/SAF is what we have. I’m just using the NRA because they are the biggest example of a problem I see in all our pro-rights groups). Does anyone really believe the majority of board members of the NRA, or even a sizable minority of them, truly understand how people from 18-35 (or even 40) think? Not to mention Wayne LaPierre and David Keene, both of whom deserve, I believe, our thanks for their efforts over the years. I just doubt they understand this relationship.
So, we need leaders who understand narrative, post-modern thought and the relationship between the two. I think the addition to the NRA of Colion Noir, Natalie Foster and Dom Raso is a good thing. It’s just not enough. We need visionaries as pro-rights leaders who are willing and able to change, not the story, but the narrative, the telling of the story. We need people who understand, in a fundamental way, how the majority of the audience thinks, perceives and understands. We need people who will never let up and who will lead others into never letting up, because our opponents will never go away and they will never quit.

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2 Comments
  1. My publisher and others have been telling me for a while now that the right approach is to sell the author, not a book. Make the author into a brand that people want to identify with.Applying that to gun rights is no harder than any other effort to sway people–which is to say, it's dang hard. What I've found in my classes is that waking people up to all the efforts of government to intrude on our lives is a good antedote to apathy. Beyond that comes repetition.Of course, if this were easy, everyone would be doing it…

  2. My publishing guru says much the same thing. As regards gun rights we need to make sure we are communicating effectively with our audience. Talking about government intrusion is a good way of doing that.

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