It’s a curious question. What part does “charm” play in life? Does the charming man or woman get the job and the dull or grumpy but competent person fail? Do charming people get more done, or are they more inclined to laziness?

Like most assertions or questions, it’s as well to start with some definitions. If we put aside nuclear physics and jewellery the definition of “charm” could be said to be the power or value of delighting, attracting, or fascinating other people. It’s an intrinsic human characteristic but I’m sure it can be learned by those who start of with basic abilities.

One of my favour fictional characters, from the 1960s has this in bucket loads. Personified in the TV series The Saint[1], Simon Templar played by Roger Moore exuded charm. In this exhibition of charm, it’s more than an external attractiveness. It’s also a moral and ethical code.

Perhaps it’s not just charm that I’m discussing. When I asked the question of a supporter, what do you see in Boris Johnson? The answer came back – charisma. It’s a power to stand above the crowd and exert influence over people. Here’s another fuzzy characteristic. Everyone recognises charisma exists but may choose to describe it differently in different people.

The reality seems to be that charm and charisma may be combined but they have little to do with moral and ethical behaviour. However, the general perception is that there’s “good” in these characteristics. Is this obvious, and thus not warranting much further thought? Or is it, that because this seems obvious, that in the hands of the “ungodly,” as The Saint would say, these characteristics can feed unfairness, injustice, or corruption?

What I mean is that “bad” charming or charismatic people are allowed to get away with misdemeans and occasionally down right criminality without the accountability that would punish others. We can add to the equation the current social media explosion. Most platforms are a gift to the self-publicist. They can be a shop window and a soap box for the adoration of charming or charismatic people, good or bad.

Maybe instead of Twitter’s blue tick there ought to be an emoji of the devil or an angel. No – that would be worse than nothing at all. In the end we do depend on authors, journalists and investigators looking behind the masks that prominent personalities keep up. What I can say is that, if there are contemporary Robin Hoods that prevents the “ungodly” from succeeding, they may need help. It’s not so easy to stay one step ahead.


Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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