I was in a “discussion” with a friend a while ago. I put “discussion” in quotes because, to my layman’s knowledge of discourse, it wasn’t so much a discussion as that I was being discussed at. Vehemently. On politics.
I know, I know . . .
My friend’s wife actually left about halfway through our “discussion”, taking their son home from our dinner and making her husband eventually walk. She texted her apologies and embarrassment to us (while he was still here) and yet, I was never really upset about any of it. Saddened but not upset.
The main thing that made me sad—and I didn’t get to thinking about it so much until a couple of days later—it’s when I realized; I know exactly where he stands politically, but he has no idea where I stand. He knows where he thinks I stand. But the questions I was asking him had nothing to do with any position I may or may not have held so much as trying to get him to explain his.
It gives me a whole new wonder about the rhetoric behind political and/or religious arguments: For pretty much the same reason. (And let me say, that the rest of this post has nothing to do with my friend, whom I love very much. It’s much more a wider thought on the general discourse of politics and religion in our country today.)
I think, in society today, there’s a certain level of sadistic entertainment involved in poking the other side, ribbing them to the point of ridicule, then standing back to watch the show. It’s like prodding a hornet’s nest with a long stick and watching the bees go nuts. They always do. It’s inevitable. Predictable.
The arguments often aren’t so much about philosophies, God, religion, Socialism, Conservativism, or what-have-you as much as just going *poke*.
“Obama is the worst president ever!” *poke*
“Jesus was a socialist!” *poke*
“We are the ninety-nine percent!” *poke*
“The wealthy class are the job creators!” *poke*
“ ‘The gays’ will ruin the institution of marriage!” *poke*
Belief in this rhetoric isn’t the point. To make the other side look like crazed, foaming-at-the-mouth, bulging eyed idiots . . . is.
It’s so easy.
“Our greatest fears are the result of what we do not understand. Our minds have the capacity to create the worst scenario possible for a given situation. This creates fear. Fear, more often than not, creates anger. . . Anger provides us with a weapon to use against the source of our fears. We hope to destroy, in some way, the basis of our fears and therefore be freed from our fears. In effect, we combat a strong, negative emotion with another strong and often negative emotion—anger.” ~ Greg Baker, author of “Fitly Spoken”
“A common byproduct of fear is anger. You can’t be angry without fear. Fear is the basis for anger. Whenever a person is angry, he or she must stop, and ask, “What am I afraid of that is making me angry?”
So, many people have asked me, “What about arguments? Aren’t arguments based around fear? My answer is, “Only part of the argument is based on fear. The other part is based on ‘rightness'”. When two people argue, fear may be present for the “anger” portion of the disagreement, but the major motivation for arguments is “rightness”. It is the ego’s desire to be right. Arguments can only continue as long as two or more people desire to be more right than the other. As soon as one individual loses the need to be “right”, the argument soon dissipates. Arguments can only perpetuate as long as two or more of the people are trying to prove their rightness.” ~ Dr. Michael J. Duckett “Anger is Fear Based”
“Emotions more or less begin inside two almond-shaped structures in our brains which are called the amygdale . . . The amygdala is so efficient at warning us about threats, that it gets us reacting before the cortex (the part of the brain responsible for thought and judgment) is able to check on the reasonableness of our reaction. In other words, our brains are wired in such a way as to influence us to act before we can properly consider the consequences of our actions.” ~ Dr. Harry Mills, PhD
Fear. Anger. Mis-education. UN-education.
My point, and I do have one, is that we’ve lost the art of thinking for ourselves. We’ve allowed the right-wing or left-wings medias to think for their respective masses. We’ve allowed the pastor, the council, the elders to think for the church. The populace merrily tags along like rats behind a pied piper until, God forbid, we don’t agree with what they say, then we merely change the channel, we switch churches.
“I’m not being ‘fed’ anymore.”
We forget that the event is the news, not the talking head’s spin of it.
We forget that we are the church, not the building, not the man behind the pulpit.
We forget that we have brains; given to us either by divine purpose or evolutionary survival . . . take your pick. Either way, your brain is there to use, not let someone use for you.
Just for a moment, please stop poking the other guy and please start thinking for yourself. Lose the fear. Lose the anger. Gain some perspective. Then . . . only then . . . maybe . . . if need be . . . speak.
St. Anger (c) cover photo courtesy of Metallica