Saturday, May 1, 2010

Insolent Weakness

"Insolence is the armor of the weak.  It is a device to induce courage in the face of one's own panic."  __ Henry Kissinger

When I first read the above statement it caught my attention.  It was spoken by Henry Kissinger during the period in which he was attempting to negotiate an honorable settlement to the Vietnam war.  Nguyen Van Thieu, Chief-of-State of South Vietnam, became insolent toward both Kissinger and President Richard Nixon in the weeks prior to the 1971 Presidential election when he felt he was being forced to accept a settlement with North Vietnam that left Communist forces within the borders of the South.  He was in a powerless position and yet used the U.S. election as a lever against giving in to the terms of the agreement which had been negotiated bilaterally between the U.S. and the North Vietnamese in the Paris talks.  He saw that Nixon was vulnerable to opposing Presidential candidate George McGovern's "peace-at-any-cost" position in the election.

Upon reflection, I saw that the statement was applicable beyond the context in which it was spoken.  My first thought is that it sometimes applies to teenagers -- especially those who are attempting to flex their "independence muscles" and are rebellious to their parents.  They fear leaving the nest and yet feel instinctually driven to do so.  They become belligerent toward first one parent and then the other.  In a two-parent household there is usually at least one parent that retains some level of communication with the teen.  In a single-parent household the result is often disaster for the teen and the already broken family.

I have also seen the quote to be an accurate description of situations encountered in business.  It is usually manifest in posturing within a company meeting -- perhaps a planning group or committee.  It is an attempt to overcome powerlessness and inadequacy with a bluff.  When one is in a true position of strength there is no need for the bluster.  It is frequently the quiet one in the room that holds the power.

Insolence appears to be just another expression of insecurity.  When one is confident in one's place in the world there is no need to either lash out at others or to attempt to dominate them -- either physically or in conversation.  Such confidence can only come from the security of a relationship with Jesus.  Through His power we can experience a quiet peace that comes from His Spirit within us.  In Him alone is our strength and confidence.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  __ Phillipians 4:13

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