Sometimes we learn something, and we don’t know how important it is until much later. That happened to me, years ago, and I am only learning the truth now.
Someone told me how to argue.
I was told:
- Don’t attack the person
- Don’t attack their ideas
- Don’t attack the people they associate with.
- Always criticize the way they communicate.
I now know that is true.
In our modern world, we don’t like this advice. We like to say things like:
- “You’re such a stupid …” or
- “That’s a crazy conspiracy theory and …” or
- “The people who think like that are …”
To really make this work, make critical comments sound like jokes. We are all terrified that people might laugh at us.
When we communicate like that, we are wrong.
The way we communicate makes us wrong, and we lose the argument, and we usually don’t see this truth. We feel like winners when we scare off the other people.
If we will hear it, we are directed in another way:
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern …” (Romans 12:2)
“These are the things which you are to do: Let every man say what is true to his neighbour; and let your judging give peace in your towns.” (Zechariah 8:16)
If we are told something in the Bible, it’s because we need to know. The book is like a list of our failures, which might explain why so many people don’t like that book.
You may have heard of the Asch experiment. A person will say something is true, when they know it is not true because the people around them say it is true. In the experiment, actors lie, and gullible victims repeat the lies because they want to conform with their friends.
The name for this is “gaslighting.”
The name “gaslighting” comes from the title of plays and movies in the 1930s and 40s, where an abusive husband tried to convince his wife that she was mentally ill. In the article that I linked to, an expert named Patricia Evans defined the patterns in a gaslighting relationship:
- Withholding information from the victim;
- Countering information to fit the abuser’s perspective;
- Discounting information;
- Using verbal abuse, usually in the form of jokes;
- Blocking and diverting the victim’s attention from outside sources;
- Trivializing (“minimizing”) the victim’s worth; and,
- Undermining the victim by gradually weakening them and their thought processes.
Where I live, it is very clear that we have an epidemic of gaslighting, with the pandemic of COVID. I hear so many different ideas that I can’t know what is true. We get instructions from our government that seems to contradict what they told us a few weeks ago.
And when I talk to some of my neighbors, they see conspiracies, and they don’t want other ideas. They may be right, but there is no open and free discussion, on either side.
One symptom of COVID seems to be disrespect for other people.
I think the COVID virus shown us who we really are. Like the voice of an ancient prophet, we can see ourselves, in the face a terrible crisis.
This is our best work:
Attached to the video is a section of comments, including this one:
“This is so frustrating, people do research and said this and year ago and were vilified and told they are conspiracy theorists and this has happened a few times during this pandemic that then after a certain amount of time their point comes out to be “true” (who even knows what’s true anymore)”
One frustrated journalist said it was like a high school science project run by the government.
I could end this by saying those people need to change, but that contradicts what I just said. They do need to change, but I am one of them. I know that we each need to change, and be less like ourselves. That was the whole point of Jesus, in the Bible. That may be why He is so unpopular.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. (Ephesians 4:14 to 17)