it’s not about you, dear



This is the Basquiat painting Kevin Young poem bases his poem of the same name (VNDRZ) on it from my morning reading. I do like Basquiat and I like Kevin Young.

I finished Comey’sĀ A Higher Loyalty. My takeaways include the following.

Comey observes that people from the Attorney General office of the United States are often believed by strangers when they talk. This stems not from their personal credibility, but “because of those who had gone before them and, through hundreds of promises made and kept, and hundreds of truths told and errors instantly corrected, built something….:”

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He labels this the “reservoir.” “… a reservoir of truth and credibility built… by the people you never knew, by those who are long gone. A reservoir that makes possible so much of the good that is done by the institution you serve.” (p. 54)

Obviously, this relates to the climate of falsehood and distortion that permeates our public discussions now. Comey’s belief in his institution convinces me. I admire it. And he is aware of the reservoir’s fragility.

“…. the problem with reservoirs is that they take a very long time to fill but they can be drained by one hole in the dam. The actions of one person can destroy what it took hundreds of people years to build.”

This comes from a speech he gave to fifty new prosecutors and their families as the newly appointed U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. I’m sure he includes it to remind the reader that this reservoir of credibility and trust is being quickly drained by Trump and his supporters.

It’s a beautiful concept and difficult for me to accept without a dash of my own skepticism of institutions in general.

Elsewhere he cites his wife’s notion that leaders benefit from realizing one thing: “It’s not aboutĀ  you, dear.”

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“… whatever people were feeling—happy, sad, frightened, or confused—it was unlikely it had anything to do with me,” Come writes, “They had received a gift, or lost a friend, or gotten a medical test result, or couldn’t understand why their love wasn’t calling them back. It was all about their lives, their troubles, their hopes and dreams. Not mine.”

This is a general helpful insight to me. Comey identifies how this is important to him in two respects: “First, it allows you to relax a bit, secure in the knowledge that you aren’t that important. Second, knowing people aren’t always focused on you should drive you to try to imagine what they are focused on. I see this as the heart of emotional intelligence, the ability to imagine the feelings and perspectives of another ‘me.’ Some seem to be born with a larger initial deposit of emotional intelligence, but all of us can develop it with practice. Well, most of us. I got the sense that no one ever taught this to Donald Trump.” (p. 239-40)

This is one of the more gentler assessments and descriptions of Trump in Comey’s book. Recommended.

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