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Finesse

fi·nesse –noun

1. extreme delicacy or subtlety in action, performance, skill, discrimination, taste, etc.

2. skill in handling a difficult or highly sensitive situation; adroit and artful management: exceptional diplomatic finesse.

3. a trick, artifice, or stratagem.


1, 2. tact, diplomacy, savoir faire, circumspection, sensitivity, sensibility.

I have always like this word.  It says so much. This country lacks finesse. And it’s not a left/right east/west or north/south issue. Nor is it a racial or gender issue. Maybe it’s our frontier origins but we seems to take a more brutal, antagonistic and overly emotional approach to situations. The old cliche of the the guy banging on his television to get it to work.  Our foreign policy has always lacked tact and finesse. We either ignore a situation or plow in to hit with guns blazing and yelling at the top of our lungs.  If there is a societal behavior that people have a problem with, we make laws to ban it completely or try to tax it to death.

But this over the top, in your face get a bigger sledge hammer approach rarely, if ever, yields the intended results and generally just pisses people off and can generate long term resentments.  It is an emotionally and mentally lazy approach. But to exercise the wisdom and rationality necessary to  have finesse requires work and thought and understanding.  And it also requires humility. But it is much more likely to yield the results we want. As well as giving us a much greater understanding of our selves and others.

Cross posted at TPMAHOLICS

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Comments on: "Finesse" (9)

  1. In this anti-intellectual nation, what’s left? It’s all based on emotions. What a shame…

    • Finesse is not necessarily an intellectual thing. My great grandpa Hofner was hardly an intellectual but he had a lot of wisdom and always tough a thoughtful approach to solving problems. As did my grandpa Maukonen, who was a tailor all his life.

      What ever happened to people like that ?

  2. another trope said:

    Maybe John Stewart’s message from his rally, “hey, America, take it down a notch,” is the first step toward our country achieving some finesse. One can only hope.

  3. Speaking of the intellectually challenged. I was thinking about this very thing today because of another event during my workday.

    The bottom line for me is why, with the net having grown to what it is, with the wisdom of the ages at our fingertips, why are we so dumb?

    Have we grown so lazy that we can’t read even a little bit of what goes on here and in the world and be at least minimally informed? We keep reinventing various wheels based upon a very limited set of knowledge and keep running head on into one brick wall after another for no reason other than laziness or being in a hurry.

    I’m perfectly fine with people formulating their opinions in whatever way they please. We have the right to reject those opinions if appropriate. But it all falls apart when a vocal, non-thinking minority is handed the keys to power and establishes their uninformed notion of reality as our guide.

    We have heard plenty about ‘crazy’ tea partiers but what is crazy is not the individuals. The crazy comes from a broad swath of America assigning credibility to tea partier arguments.

    I’m in NY and as I’m writing this I am listening to the first episode of Bill Maher on HBO for the season. Maher really nails the above ideas in his closing comments. You gotta love the way he casts a light on the insanity by directing our attention to the not so subtle contradictions of the tea partier arguments. I don’t know if it’s by intent or not but the entire show has this theme. The simplicity, but oh so informative, enormously entertaining satire being lost on so many speaks volumes about the country.

    I laugh at it because it is so absurdly funny but I know that it would absolutely piss off a lot of people. Therein lies the difference between being in possession of information or not. I read a study about this phenomenon this past week and the conclusions of the study showed that no matter what the facts say people accept or reject ideas based upon cultural bias. In a very big way. Which leads me to conclude Democrats should cut these clowns off at the knees in whatever way possible with as much force as possible. Because you won’t change them one bit.

    • I should note that the same study I was reading about referred to the simplicity with which one is able to take advantage of cultural and informational biases and flat out lie to people. The facts notwithstanding.

      • I am reminded of those of my mother’s generation. Specifically those who were veterans of WWII who – through the GI Bill – were able to go back to school after the war was over.

        I bring this up because their attitude toward education was quite different that many of those today. They went back to school because they wanted to. Because they wanted to learn something, to be informed. Unlike so many today who simply see education as some sort of ticket to wealth or employment (see how well that worked out). That 4, 6 or 8 years was simply dues one payed and to get their ticket as quickly as possible.

        Attitude I think is the biggest difference.

        • Yeah, they wanted to better themselves.

          And most of their parents never even contemplated college. ha

          And in Minnesota, no GI bill was necessary for tuition–it was free.

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