It is another cold day in Little Egypt. Snow may be coming tomorrow. I, longingly, recall the balmy Gulf breezes of Miramar Beach, Florida, two weeks ago. I remember telling my friend, Peter, who is a internationally respected historian, that Populism is a good thing. Peter, kindly, responded that it depended what type of Populism I was speaking about.
‘Populism – A political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.’ Google Dictionary
‘Winning over masses has been at the heart of politics since antiquity. It is referred to as populism if done so by delivering extremely simplified answers to citizens. The German born political thinker Hannah Arendt (1906 – 1975) examined this issue in her world famous book Totalitarianism. She wanted to understand what had turned the democratic Republic of Weimar and the communist USSR into extremist-totalitarian systems. Arendt argued that both had a common denominator: populism.’ Eyes on Europe
I have noticed, for the majority of my life, the toothy smile of leaders and others, who ultimately had an agenda for me that was for their benefit…and not for mine. In my early years I purchased items from salespeople who seemed especially nice or concerned regarding my well being and advancement…only later to meet them and discover that their stories and faux-empathy was short lived.
Two institutions that I have been involved with for, nearly, all of my life, are the church and employment. I can remember ministers advising me to do things and perform tasks that redounded to the increase of their finances and served their purposes. Also, supervisors or bosses or administrators have presented the grandest of smiles and the kindest of words…only to turn their back when I failed to be of use to them or exhibited a variance in my opinion from theirs.
‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.’ Proverbs 27:6 KJV
Hitler was a populist!
So, I have looked for actions to back up wonderful smiles and condescending platitudes. When someone speaks to you according to their biased perception of you, perhaps they are insulting your intelligence. I recall a graduate student in the Geology department, many years ago, visiting our custodial office at Parkinson Lab. He laughed and mentioned that he assumed that our walls would be covered with nude photos of women. Members of my crew included two men in their 60’s. One had been a career regional salesman for the former Blue Bell Foods of DuQuoin, Illinois and the other had been the head of the finance department for a multi-state oil company.
I have observed many people seeking a church that cares about them and their family. Many cults have a prescribed method of populism to gain membership into their group. ‘Love Bombing,’ is a term that describes the showering of attention that prospective members of cultish churches experience. However, later comes the encroaching into the finances and personal lives of the new recruits. Soon, the people who were seeking the benevolent smiles and concerns of others, are living under a restrictive and draconian church government that gives them stress that they had no idea that they were buying into.
Have you ever experienced leaders who assert that they are geniuses or that they hear from God…or that they are the chosen one. Yet, when critical issues, regarding the leader, come to light, they know nothing and are not aware of any of the substantive accusations or issues that are brought forward, concerning their behavior?
Smiles are wonderful…just make sure the person that is smiling at you is not the animated character of the old cartoon, Dudley Do Right of the Mounties…Snidely Whiplash.
I am a retired from Southern Illinois University after thirty two years of service. I enjoy traveling and writing and I have been able to do more of both over the past two years.
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