September 11, 2012

Be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves

It took an Amazon review for me to understand what "Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves" meant! The review was for The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback), which I've seen on friends' bookshelves for awhile.

Read in spirit of the "Screwtape Letters"
March 15, 2004, by Buck Rogers:
In one's life, you're better off following the teachings of Moses, Jesus, or Buddha to gain long-term happiness. But the sad fact is, many people live by a very different set of rules, and while most of these folks eventually self-destruct, they can inflict severe damage on our personal and professional lives in the process.

48 Rules of Power is a good primer for learning how these people think. I've spotted a number of similar books in the Business section (like "Career Warfare" and classics like the "Art of War") of my local bookseller, but none put things quite as succinctly as this one. In today's predatory work culture, with good jobs (read: jobs that let you own a home and pay all the bills month to month with a little left over) becoming harder and harder to find, you almost certainly will be the target of these techniques at some point.
A friend once made an innocent and extraordinarily minor faux pas at an office Christmas party, and had a homicidal CEO attempt to destroy his future using methods as varied as slander and identity theft, all done through middle manager proxies to keep his own hands clean. You need to read books like these to know how too many people at the top think. But don't live out some of these rules in real life (e.g., crush your enemy completely) - there'll always be someone who does it better, and you will get crushed. Martha Stewart got hers, so don't think you're going to smash people and live to tell the tale. Reality simply doesn't work that way - and even if you survive professionally, the spiritual rot and personal decay will leave you an isolated, paranoid wreck.
Read this book in the spirit of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, in which a master demon gives advice to a protege on how to destroy mortals. Learn how to spot people who live like this - and then stay very, very far away. Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves." This book, read in the right spirit, will help you with both.

You might even miss the dogma:

Update: On a large scale, these power politics can be most unfortunate, as seen in The Bush White House Was Deaf to 9/11 Warnings by Kurt Eichenwald at (9-10-2012).

This is not news, though reminders are popping up. Claims that "nobody could have predicted" the scenarios that actually played out are quite deceptive. The Bojinka Plot was foiled in 1995. The spectacle of terror by air was a theme on popular TV (The Lone Gunmen on FOX) and reported after the Italian secret services were warned that al-Qaida, pet goat Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group, might be planning a suicide attack on the summit at the 27th G8 summit in Italy in July 2001. Bush attended this summit and was protected by the stationing of anti-aircraft missiles and other measures.

See also "500 Days": Author Kurt Eichenwald’s New Account of How Bush Admin Ignored Warnings Before 9/11, an interview on Democracy Now.

No comments: