I used to begin every training session or class I led by saying something like:
“So, who is Julie Stiles Mills and why should you listen to anything she has to say?”
Then I would give a brief intro to establish my credibility, sharing my education, experience, and sometimes a little bit about my teaching/learning philosophy.
I announced my credentials.
People on the receiving end of my self-introduction were usually polite. Most even gave me some eye contact or a smile.
Over the years, I’ve come to a realization that I was taking – actually wasting – time talking about myself when what the people in front of me REALLY wanted was to get to the part where what I had to say actually benefited them.
These days, I just skip directly to that part and
I let my credibility establish itselforganically,
through demonstrated competence,
but also through empathy and personal attention.
It keeps me on my toes, because if I don’t know what I’m talking about, my credibility takes a hit.
Some might say De Niro sent the strongest message. From the looks of the internet on June 11th, he got more attention than ANYTHING else that happened at the 2018 Tony Awards the night before.
If you searched “Tonys” on Monday morning, google auto suggested “Tonys De Niro” and if you clicked on google images you were deluged with scowls and fists in the air.
Of course, the images immediately flooded my mind with childhood memories of Burgermeister Meisterburger.
(in the words of Dr. Raymond Stantz, “I couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.”)
De Niro’s words were bleeped in many of the videos and redacted in print,
but I was watching live and I knew what he said the moment he said it:
“Me. Me Me Me Me. ME!!”
Never mind who won a Tony.
Never mind the multiple phenomenal performances by the nominees.
Never mind the talent or music of Bruce Springsteen, whose performance De Niro was on stage to introduce.
Not a single award or performance garnered more internet real estate than Robert De Niro on the the morning of June 11, 2018.
You can’t buy that kind of publicity.
But there were two other messages from the Tony Awards that hit home for me.
It’s been a week and I’m still thinking about
the juxtaposition of this…
The Acceptance Speech by Orin Wolf, Producer of The Band’s Visit
(2018 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical):
“Music gives people hope and makes borders disappear. Although the characters are strangers to each other with great political divides, our show offers a message of unity in a world that more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences. In the end, we are far more alike than different and I’m so proud to be part of a community that chooses to support that message.” [emphasis added]
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thinkin Orin Wolf didn’t hurriedly scribble his acceptance speech in his seat as a response to De Niro hijacking the microphone. I believe Wolf thoughtfully prepared that speech and intentionally wrote those words to express what he believed to be true.
For the most part, the 2018 Tony Awards were a short and welcome reprieve from the bludgeoning of “a world that more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences.” Hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles were clearly focused on honoring excellence in Broadway theatre:
“…our job throughout the night is…to celebrate all the people in that room, who put in all their effort eight times a week and deserve to be there for all the right reasons. We’re focusing on that positive energy and all the ways that theater can bring people together.” Josh Groban
And it appeared they were succeeding.
What happened in that span of 28 seconds?
Did the applause and cheering of hundreds of people turn Wolf’s gracious words into a crumbled facade and him into a naive idealist patronized by frauds?
or did he expose their duplicity and momentarily shame them into silence?
Both of those possibilities are awful.
I’m thankful for the 1% rule of internet culture and pray that Monday morning’s tsunami of De Niro praising came from the loudest of the 1% and not the remaining 99%. I pray that the majority was silent because words failed them after witnessing people who seemed so gracious and accepting moments before, instantly pivot on a single word of vulgarity and belie their true thoughts and feelings while smiling. and cheering. and whistling. and applauding. on their feet. in support of a hateful polemic.
De Niro’s message was a selfish expression of hate. And it was loud.
Orin Wolf’s message was a call to unity, encouraging us to bridge “great political divides.”
But the message of that 28 second reveal stripped the audience of their credibility like a wizard behind a curtain.
It leaves me wondering who in the Tony’s audience that night is genuinely “part of a community that chooses to support that message” of unity?
Anti-theist, Richard Dawkins believes in the possibility of intelligent design:
“It could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, by probably some kind of Darwinian means, to a very, very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto, perhaps, this planet. That is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the D cells of biochemistry and molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer. And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe.”
Doing the math…
That’s: 3 “coulds” 1 “somewhere” 1 “probably” 1 “perhaps” 3 “possibilities” and 2 “mights” all adding up to
– if I understand him correctly –
from outer space.
or more specifically, from “somewhere” in space, at “some earlier time” in history.
perhaps. He supposes.
He makes this statement in an interview with Ben Stein, who comments:
“So, Professor Dawkins was not against intelligent design. Just certain types of designers. Such as God.”