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Help me make an inspirational poster

Taking a Christmas break from my customary snarkiness, I mean this without irony. I would like to make one of those motivational posters with an inspirational quotation or slogan on it. The slogan would express an idea that I already believe strongly, only I have not yet found the best way to express it.

The starting point is a slogan that has many variants, but the version I saw first and like best is:

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was always yours. If it does not, it never was.”

Knowing my audience, I shall link to the demotivational version as well. It’s a quote from B.J. Novak, who was probably a ray of sunshine until he played the temp in the American version of The Office.

So, the slogan for which I reach is similar to that one (the motivational version, not Novak’s), but is about acceptance rather than love. Something like:

“If you seek acceptance, don’t demand it, ask for it. If the other person says yes, you know you are truly and freely accepted. If they say no,

Then what? I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure if it’s even a good idea to mention the consequences of the other person saying “no”. I suppose I could say “better to be aware they do not accept you than to be deceived by them feigning acceptance out of fear, which will probably lead to them stabbing you in the back whenever they get the chance”, but that one’s a bit of a downer to put on a poster. The point I really want to make is that true acceptance cannot be had if the person being asked to do the accepting does not have the option to say “no”.

The reason I seek a more pithy way to express this sentiment than anything I have come up so far is that, as I said a few years back in a post called “To knock on the door is better than booting it in”, “Like some warrior cultures of old, the grievance culture holds getting what you want by asking or peaceably trading to be fit only for slaves. The superior person does not ask for what they want; they demand it.” This attitude is culturally dominant in both senses.

I can see why this disastrous misapprehension arose. There are circumstances where the only moral course is to demand one’s just rights as rights, with not the slightest hint of pleading. But there can be no right to be accepted, just as there can be no right to be loved.

29 comments to Help me make an inspirational poster

  • GregWA

    One of my proudest moments as a father was when my then-10 year old son and I came up with a poster. The image was of the Evil Emperor from Star Wars, with yellow lightening streaming out of his fingers (obviously in the throes of killing Luke) and with his trademark evil face on. Our caption? “If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life”

    Runner up: image of Yoda with a milk mustache. Caption: “Milk, got?” That might only work in the US where the Milk Council (or whatever the industry’s booster org is) had ads out with “Got Milk” as the tag line. I should have printed it on tee shirts and made some money! Or I’d at least have a bunch of tee shirts to give as gifts (THAT wouldn’t get old!)

    OK, sorry, Natalie, I know that wasn’t much help.

  • Kirk

    “If you seek acceptance, don’t demand it, ask for it. If the other person says yes, you know you are truly and freely accepted. If they say no,

    Taking a cue from what the “woke” actually do, I’d finish that with “…then, beat their faces in.”

  • Deep Lurker

    I’ll float this suggestion:

    To ask is to propose a trade.
    To demand is to claim by right.
    To know the difference is wisdom.

  • William O. B'Livion.

    “You can do everything right and still lose. But if you do anything wrong, you have lost”

    The first part is from a combat instructor, who admitted to cribing it from someone else. The second sentence is my addendum).

    “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”
    ― Mark Rippetoe

    These, however, are not in the area of what you are looking for.

    “Love is not inherently reciprocal, and the only way to allow it to flourish is to allow the freedom to not love you. This is a cost of being alive.”

    “Love only exists in a space that allows for it not to”.


    “Love only exists when there is the freedom not to”.

    “If they can’t walk away, it isn’t love”.

  • Roger Ritter

    If they say no, accept that and move on.

  • Myno

    Accepted acceptance is worth building two bridges.

  • Tim Worstall

    “Acceptance is something observed. To ask for it is to deny its existence.”

    Yes, I know, not quite what you wanted but sorry about that.

    Rights, liberties, all can and should be demanded. Acceptance is from the heart and as such it’s there or it isn’t.

  • Kirk

    On a more serious note, I’d say that if you’re demanding something, then what you’re actually doing is more akin to armed robbery than anything else.

    Plus, anything you get at metaphoric gunpoint? What, pray tell, do you suppose you’re going to experience once you lose control of the gun? Do the math.

    Yet another point to be made here is that anything that isn’t organic and truly accepted/believed in by the party granting it? That won’t last. At. All.

    You force it on them? They’ll hate you for it, and the first chance they get, the knives will come out and go right into your back.

    As an illustrative example, consider what I fear we’re about to witness with regards to all the LGBTWTFBBQ insanity. Observe what happens as the majority turns on them, for the activities and predilections of the few, the ones who’re doing this as performative art and to gain access to the kiddies. It won’t be pretty.

    Also, consider this: What has happened over the course of the last few decades with regards to Catholic and other clergy…? Time was, they’d tell the kids “If you’re in trouble, find a priest…”. Now? LOL… Yeah, right. Same thing has happened to cops. You think it can’t happen to the “alternatively sexual”? It will, and it will be ugly.

    The current “acceptance” for the LGBTWTFBBQ lifestyle did not happen organically. There was massive propaganda delivered to the public on the issue, and the assurance through all of it was that “They’re just like you and me, it’s just that they love different sorts of people than we do…”

    Sure. And, there weren’t ever going to be any “requests” made past gay marriage, and there’d never be mainstreaming of transgender bullshit with our kids, either. Did you believe that? I once did; just like liberalizing the drug laws, I thought that would work for everyone’s benefit. My opinion today is that the “alternatively sexual” are going to get shoved back into the closet so hard that your great-great-grandchildren will still be feeling it a hundred or more years from now.

    And, they’re gonna deserve it. Just like the pedos in the Catholic Church deserve it. Among other places… Sins of the few are going to drive punishment being applied to all, in exactly the same manner that a lot of people now automatically demonize every Catholic priest they encounter.

    If you’ve ever spent time around a Mormon community, you’ll have encountered the phenomenon of “Jack Mormons”, those who’ve lapsed and no longer participate. Ever notice how viciously vehement those folks are, about the Latter Day Saints? Ever been forced to listen to them enumerate all their grievances? Did you ever try to work out just why they’re like that, almost universally? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a one of those folk who hasn’t been a font of vituperation against the Church, and I ascribe it to the reciprocal of that whole “acceptance at gunpoint” thing we’re talking about here: Take the gun away? What do you get? It is occasionally Stockholm Syndrome, but what I’ve observed is more on the level of permanent, lasting hatred for the party that put the gun to their head in the first place. You don’t get the real deal by coercion, and if you do manage to force the issue? The blow-back will take you right the hell back to where you started, and probably even deeper into the hole.

    On a semi-related issue, I can’t wait to see whose names are on the list coming out from Epstein’s little Xanadu. As well as eventually finding out who got their identities redacted… The sort of gaslighting that’s gone on, over things like Pizzagate? You’re going to see a counter-reaction to it all that will leave you shocked at the results, I think.

    Everyone keeps thinking that the public is apathetic. And, I agree: It sure looks that way. My opinion is different; I happen to think that the public is incredulous that the various parties think they can get away with this crap, and that they’re actually doing it. They don’t want to believe, so they don’t. But, the thought that such things might really be going on is still there, and the public remains watchful. Incontrovertible proof appears, or enough evidence accumulates? Watch the hell out; you think that Jack Mormons are bad? Wait until the general public goes all Jack LGBTWTFBBQ on us, and the cult of the sexually depraved is seen clearly for the first time in decades. It is a true thing that the newest converts to a religion are the most fervent, but there’s an actual obverse to it all: The most dangerous member of your church is the true believer whose faith you’ve broken. Those are the people you really need to watch out for, because they’re going to be the leading edge of the mob tying your ass to the stake and piling up the flammables.

  • bobby b

    Don’t ask to be loved. Just be lovable.

  • Steven R

    “There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like me and those who can go to Hell.”
    -Tommy “The Nightmare” Smith, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • Barbarus

    If they say no, you have learned something important.

  • Simon Jester

    On the subject of acceptance:

    “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost

    “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

    Merry Christmas.

  • SteveD

    Why not make a funny parody of an idea you believe in?

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m reminded of that pithy saying supposedly said by our former Queen… “the price we pay for love is risk of grief”.
    So “the price we pay for true acceptance is risking the sting of rejection.”

  • Ferox

    Myself, I am more partial to something like “Truth before kindness; freedom before courtesy.”

    Or more pithily, “Fuck off with your lies” but I understand that might be a bit lacking in Christmas spirit.

  • Earnest Canuck

    I would also like to be of no help whatsoever. I once drew a cartoon that was just a sketch of Darth Vader’s head, except with long curly eyelashes over the, uh, eye bubbles? “Luke,” read the speech bubble/ caption, “I am your stepmother. Would you like some Ovaltine?”

  • Runcie Balspune

    What doesn’t kill me gives me XP

    Ok, that’s Dungeons & Dragons.

    If they say no, …

    Then just make it a law?

  • Brendan Westbridge

    If you want acceptance: earn it. If you make people’s lives better no one will care that you’re a weirdo.

    Unless you’re Jewish of course in which case they will ascribe your success to a worldwide conspiracy to make the world worse by making it better.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Why not just cut off the ‘If they say no’ part?

  • jgh

    I Want Doesn’t Get.

    Acceptance isn’t something asked for, let alone demanded. It is something freely given. Asking for it negates acceptance.

  • X Trapnel

    Such people are unsure whether to be the angry revolutionaries they envy, or the polite middle-class children they were brought up to be. Asking for stuff politely, and getting revolutionary-style mad when that ask is not granted, causes no shortage of cognitive dissonance in the heads of the well brought-up SJW.

    The revolutionary doesn’t ask for things, only to get upset when he doesn’t get them; that’s the action of a petulant child. The revolutionary takes them.

    Or, mejor dicho, the successful revolutionary takes them.

    The whole black nation has to be put together as a black army. And we gon’ walk on this nation, we gon’ walk on this racist power structure, and we gon’ say to the whole damn government “stick ’em up motherfucker! This is a hold up! We come for what’s ours.”

    Unsuccessful revolutionaries, however, make quotable speeches about such matters, then live out their days in comfortable – and richly-deserved – obscurity, in the free and prosperous society they said they would smash to pieces.

    Which roundabout way leads me to Natalie’s question. I refer the unsatisfied questor for acceptance to the motto of the great state of Michigan, or to Christopher Wren’s epitaph – if you want acceptance, look around the Free World, buddy. You got it.

  • dmm

    If you aren’t accepted as you are, you can change for them (hard), or you can stay the same for yourself (also hard). Your choice.


    Acceptance by others is not the destination, but a respite along the way.

    Good luck with it.

  • Kirk

    I hate to say it, but I’ve gradually had to accept that the social construct of “racism” here in the US these days is virtually a self-imposed delusional system that many blacks use to explain their failures away. “Acceptance” ain’t got nothing to do with their problems.

    It’s the same with the sexual preference minorities. They fail to comprehend that their problems are self-induced, and that the main reason they’re not “accepted” or “tolerated” has a lot more to do with their own personal conduct and behavior than anything else.

    Both groups set up these straw men to use as things to attack and things to explain and excuse their failures in life.

    I had a black subordinate in the Army. I dunno why I came across to him as someone he could talk to about things, but apparently I did. It’s a damn curse, sometimes…

    Anyway, we’re sitting around after work waiting on something to happen… I think we had a truck out on a mission, and they hadn’t come back in yet. My policy was that if any of my troops were out, the leadership wasn’t going home until they did. So, we’re sitting around talking about things, and he’s bemoaning his lack of promotion to the next grade, and he makes this comment about it being due to him being black. Which put my jaw on the floor, because I’d been the guy to put him in for the promotion and encourage him to do self-improvement to get there. I’m very white; I’m kinda set back on my heels going “Really? You’re gonna go there?”

    So, I point out all the damn reasons I was the first guy to put his ass in for promotion, and why I’d done it. For one, he’d never performed for anyone else, because he just hadn’t. I’d come into the unit, told him what I wanted done, and he did it. I don’t know if it was my shining personality or what, but he actually performed for me, when he hadn’t for any of his other leaders, which pretty much covered the US color spectrum for “race”. Because he’d performed, I’d encouraged him more, he’d experienced more success, and he really changed, improving himself. Wasn’t anything he couldn’t have done for someone else, they’d just never asked or demanded it of him. He was a pretty good leader, when he bothered. Which he hadn’t been.

    He also had a minor record for disciplinary issues, like a DUI when he was a private, couple of other things. So, I asked him “What specific racism did you experience to make you say that? Who did it? What were the specific incidents?”

    He really couldn’t articulate them. At. All.

    Thing was, every time he’d failed to perform, or done wrong? He had, either consciously or unconsciously ascribed those bad things happening to him as being the results of racism. The idea that he’d been the one to screw up, and that was why he’d had the setbacks? Couldn’t even begin to process the idea.

    I’m talking to him, and I can’t even begin to get through to him. I pointed out all the white guys who’d screwed up and had similar things happen to them, but his persecution complex was so strong that he came up with all sorts of exceptions, including the one where he said that the “Army” had punished the white guy in order to make it look like they weren’t racist and were applying punishments fairly.

    Whole thing was ‘effing surreal. It was akin to having a friend that you thought was relatively sane suddenly start seriously trying to convince you that the world is flat. What I saw as the natural consequences of poor performance and errors in judgement, he saw as evidence of racism. It was impossible to convince him otherwise. I don’t know why he didn’t see me as part of the problem, but apparently I’d impressed him as a fair-minded, if somewhat naive, individual that he could spell things out for. It was like being on the opposite side of Alice’s looking-glass, and having the mirror image insist that it was what was real. He was convinced enough of the situation being “racism” that I think a lot of people would have just followed him right along to la-la land.

    At the time, we had a boss who was also black. I was troubled enough that I went to him and basically re-enacted that scene with the Nazis from Mitchell & Webb, the one where the question is asked “Are we the baddies…?”

    Can’t honestly say whether that guy was actually a white racist himself, but he was dismissive of the idea, to say the least. Didn’t have a really good take on my guy, either, referring to him in terms I’m pretty sure the Equal Opportunity NCO would have had issues with, and made the comment that he couldn’t figure out how the hell I’d ever gotten him to do anything in the first place… I presume that we’d somehow just “clicked”, for some damn reason. Not sure where he wound up, in his military career, but for as long as he worked for me, he was a pretty decent performer.

    Now, all that’s just to say this: Acceptance and tolerance are really quite meaningless things. They’re in the negative for meaningful when you demand them, because if you do that, the person you are demanding them from is pretty unlikely to give you any more than grudging minimalist versions of either one.

    As well? You demand acceptance and tolerance. You get it, on the surface, sure… But, what are you getting when the people you demand that from are alone with their own thoughts and decisions to make? Think that they are going to consider you and your needs fondly, fairly…? Or, are they going to see your impending assignment to Greenland and think “Oh, well… That’s one trouble spot I won’t have to worry about…”

    Friend of mine lived in a nice neighborhood, on a cul-de-sac. Great place, until his old neighbor sold their home to a complete ass. Cue literal years of issues with this jackass, all of which my friend had to deal with and just take, because he wasn’t an ass himself. The denouement to this story is that my friend came home one day to observe a small fire, probably from the nearby brushpile burn that was going on, and that small fire was near his neighbor-the-ass’s garden shed. He could have, and probably should have, called the fire department. He got a beer or two, set some sprinklers in the side yard connecting the two properties, and then watched as the fire got bigger, involved the shed, and then the house. Once it got to the house, and was going fairly well, he called the fire department.

    Neighbor demanded tolerance and acceptance. He got the surface version of both, and then the guy he’d demanded both from was presented with a situation. His decisions were colored by how he’d been treated by this neighbor, sooooo… Yeah.

  • Jacob

    If you seek acceptance, ask. Acceptance freely given sews comfort that can bloom into friendship. Acceptance freely denied grants understanding that can become a foundation for a working relationship. Acceptance by force breeds resentment and contempt that fosters strife and future conflict.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    “There is no magic… but there may be joy.”

    And the jobsworths would deny you joy. In their Utopia everything is grey.

  • Paul Marks

    “After the collapse we WILL rebuild civilization”.

    For what it takes is the WILL to do it – with the right ideas in their heads people can rebuild, better than before.

    The desperate Roman civilians who fled from the Huns into the mashes – created the Republic of Venice.

  • Steven R

    “They say I drink whiskey; my money’s my own
    And them that don’t like me can leave me alone.”
    -Jack o’ Diamonds (traditional)

  • Robert Howden

    ‘War is natural, Peace is man made’

    This is an abridged statement froma nazi propaganda film I once saw at the imperial war museum. The film had a guy in a white coat with some mice showing that because they fought it was correct for man to fight and therefore all the invasions were justified . Of course I took the opposite notion. Peace is something that mankind has done to separate themselves from the animals and a state worth working towards. Very Christian notion too for this time of year.

  • Kirk

    ‘War is natural, Peace is man made’

    This is an abridged statement froma nazi propaganda film I once saw at the imperial war museum. The film had a guy in a white coat with some mice showing that because they fought it was correct for man to fight and therefore all the invasions were justified . Of course I took the opposite notion. Peace is something that mankind has done to separate themselves from the animals and a state worth working towards. Very Christian notion too for this time of year.

    Neither position is the correct one.

    The typical “turn the other cheek” form of Christian martyrdom in the name of “peace” is as false and fundamentally immoral position as its opposite. Left to the extremists, we’d have just rolled over and let Nazism happen, while thinking softly of England. In a very strong sense, that expression of “Christianity” is a nasty little vice, creating a faith suitable only for willing slaves.

    And, it isn’t what Christ taught, either.

    There’s a middle ground between being a Nazi and being a victim, and that’s the one that practical people have to inhabit. You can aspire to inner and outer peace, but it should never be something you sacrifice your own autonomy and survival to attain.

    There’s a missing piece in Christianity in this regard, as all too many of its adherents have lived and expressed their faith. All too many have made their faith a comfort along the road to martyrdom in the face of evil. You don’t have to be a Nazi to fight Nazis; it is possible to be a decent human being and still resist evil.

    I’d say that there is also a diametrically opposite hole in the expression of faith made by many Islamics, which is unfortunately a faith for masters as much as Christianity is one for slaves. Neither path is correct or truly moral. And, if you dig into the fundamental texts for both, neither position is truly what that faith is meant to be, in my reading.

    Personally, I wish a pox upon both houses. As I would not be a slave, I also do not wish mastery over others. Do not put me in either position, and we’ll be OK; try to force me into one or the other? We’ll have problems. Mind your own damn business, and I’ll mind mine.

    The real problem we have with a lot of things is that people tend to project their own ideas and beliefs into their formal faiths, whether they’re religious or secular. It’s the bias problem in science, where you go looking for evidence supporting your thesis rather than gathering evidence and making a thesis from that. Religious people are as prone to this as any tyro scientist setting out to do work; if you look for horses, you tend to mistake zebras for them. If you’re a filthy-minded slaver, then you’re going to read the Koran or the Bible as justifying what you’re doing, and you’re going to turn your “faith” into a nightmare.

    It’s more about the believer than the ideas, TBH. You could, I suspect, posit a hypothetical where Nazism were a positive force, and the Nazis were good people. But, you’d first have to do away the actual Nazis and start over with decent people…

    As with everything, it is the people who screw it all up.

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