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Article > The power to make people listen
Description :: When you talk, does the world stand still?
I read tonight on french-language news that the US had more firmly condemned Israel's recent actions in Rafah than usual, telling the state that its actions were counter-productive.

Most of us know what a commanding voice is, and it's not the voice of threats. Perhaps you feared your parents because you knew you'd get a whooping if you disobeyed, but I didn't. My father has a particular voice he uses when he wants something to happen, and doesn't have any other option left. It's not a threat. Phaedra tells me I have the same voice when dealing with our cat (a particularly naughty ball of fur) -- mine doesn't have the same effect though. I know dad didn't need to spank me for quite a few years of my life, but I'd still wind up running to my room crying if he used the voice. (I really should capitalize that: the "Voice.") I can't explain it, at least not easily. Maybe it had something to do with love, with not wishing to disappoint, I'm not sure. If I keep talking about it, I know Ensis will want to talk about how this relates to a good relationship with the heavenly father, and not needing threats to keep you in line. Maybe another day.

The United States uses that same tone with the world, the voice of a father with authority over children. But the UN also does, and we mock it for not holding up threats? When dealing with Iraq, the US's main objection to the way the UN was handling the "problem" was that no time limits were set, no sanctions put forth as punishment. We wanted definitive demonstration of willingness to use action to solve the problem. We used force, because we felt the UN wouldn't, because it didn't say it would. Now we speak to Israel as you would to a naughty cat, telling it how bad it's been, without a threat, and we expect a response to our liking.

The voice of authority is a very fragile thing. It can be shattered by overuse, by use when you're wrong, or by using force (or the threat of force) when the voice isn't working. Once the respect is gone, force is all you have left, and likely won't get you very far. (You can beat fear into an animal, but not respect. We often mistake fear for respect.)

I have no idea how the US is ever going to regain the respect of the world, so force and threats of force aren't necessary anymore. But then, how will the UN? We obviously feel that nobody obeys the UN either, because no threat is put forth. Making an example out of someone probably won't help ... that's the path of force. It's a fragile thing indeed.

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Owned by Unordained - Created on 05/20/2004 - Never edited

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