In Praise of Passion


Kerov writes:

The nature of propaganda is to use emotion to bypass rationality. That, to me, qualifies it as a "bad thing" generally.

In my post on propaganda, I mentioned that propaganda is a tool that can be used for good as well as evil. This is a concept that the "great generation" largely accepted, but we "baby boomers" and "post-boomers" have never been required to understand. After the jump, I'll explain why appealing to emotions is so important, both in words and with a classic cartoon…

The aptly titled "great generation" was born and raised in the Great Depression, and as soon as that lifted, they were thrust into a World War that threatened freedom and peace between nations in a way that the world had never faced before. Today, we've endured hardships and faced challenges, but nothing like the ones our grandparents faced. How did they motivate themselves to make those sacrifices and answer the challenges? Here's a hint… They didn't do it with reason alone.

This is a cartoon made by the Disney Studios in 1943 to explain why both reason and emotion are so important. (Leonard Maltin only gets it half right in his introduction.)

Why do we contribute money to Haiti when an earthquake devastates their country? There isn't much of a logical reason… Haiti isn't really all that important to us strategically or economically. They'll probably never be in a position to return the favor. Why not just let them sort it and go about our own business?

Because we feel an emotional link to people who are suffering. Soulless corporations flourish with lots of "bottom line common sense" but no sense of altruism, and they make billions of dollars in profits. Why is that a bad thing? Isn't that what they're supposed to do? You and I both know the answer to that question. The problem with this world isn't that there isn't enough logic. The problem is that there isn't enough compassion.

Logic won't cut it alone in each of our own lives either. There are a million things that make sense to do. I have a whole laundry list full of logical things to do in my own life- more than I'll ever get around to doing. Guess which ones I actually go out and do? Reason may be the reason to do things, but passion is what makes things actually happen.

Why do we admire Carl Sagan? Is it because he was factually accurate? No, it's because he was able to convey a passion for science to us. Walt Disney, Gandhi, M. L. King… people with passion move mountains. In my own small life, I've tried to follow my own passion and share it with others. Sure, it makes total sense to have an archive and museum dedicated to animation, but until I had the passion to quit my job and start building it, it didn't happen. If it wasn't for the passion of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, our collection wouldn't include 50,000 high resolution images and over 5,000 digitized animated films. Passion makes things happen that would never have happened otherwise.

If I get any idea across to you, gentle readers of Boing Boing, in my two week stint as guestblogger here, let it be this… BELIEVE in what you do- really feel it in your heart- and then go out and do it.

P.S. I just appealed to your emotions as a call to action. Feel free to call me a propagandist!