Once upon a time there was a couple who wanted to go to dinner. “Let’s go to the new seafood restaurant” the wife said.
“The one on main street?” the husband asked. Affirmative. “No, he replied. “I’m tired, and don’t feel like driving that far.”
“I’ll drive,” she said.
“I Don’t like that part of town at night,” the husband said.
“O.K., we’ll go for lunch tomorrow” she replied.
“I don’t really like seafood,” the husband said.
“They have steak and chicken too,” she replied. “I’ll order the seafood.”
“It’s a little expensive,” the husband said.
“I got a bonus,” the wife replied.
This went on and on, and then suddenly the husband blurted out: “my ex-wife owns it. I won’t give that #$%% my money.”
This is most FB “Debates.” While you’re arguing stuff on the surface, there is really a belief or value pattern deep underneath, and all the arguments are actually irrelevant to that core. You can expend all your time going from reason to reason, excuse to excuse, rationale to rationale, fact to fact, but unless you KNOW what the underlying b.s. is, you have wasted your time. Win every single “round” (and since there is no neutral judge, it is impossible to determine what “winning” is anyway. Routinely, both sides claim victory, or hadn’t you noticed?) and nothing changes.
Or…the opponent reluctantly agrees you are right, and within a week you can see they’ve “snapped” right back to their prior position as if their head is made out of memory plastic. You can apply force and stretch it out of shape, but the instant you stop putting energy into it, it pops right back into its original form.
THIS is why the pattern goes as it does:
- Love yourself
- Love one other person
- Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame
- FIND AND PROTECT YOUR TRIBE.
Hear that? It doesn’t say “beat people into submission with your brilliant rhetoric.” That is a waste of life. Better to nurture the people who already see your position, while being kind to others who are courteous but asleep (or simply see things differently, of course), and be ready to step on snakes and slay monsters if necessary.
Don’t waste your time. It takes DYNAMITE to blast out belief patterns people were programmed with prior to puberty. That stuff is like concrete. For instance, (and this is one I’ve had thousands of hours to think about) someone taught in childhood that blacks are inferior, by parents or a society that nurtures them, will see everything through that lens for the rest of their lives. They may be polite, may extend courtesy and respect, may even praise an individual who has “risen above” their roots…but under it all, they will “snap back” to that belief the instant they are under stress. That’s the way the world makes sense to them. They will not seriously entertain any facts that contradict that belief pattern because they would have to re-assess their entire world.
What’s another way we get these solid beliefs? Pain. Survival. Abuse victims can have “I am worthless” wired in so deeply that no surface actions can have lasting impact. Conversely, they can also create a global negative for the entire class of people who hurt them: whites, blacks, men, women, Muslims, Christians, whatever.
It keeps them safe. Makes sense of the world.
And keeps them from having to look deeply within themselves, through the pain and doubt and fear and anger, into the Universal Humanity that demands we see our own imperfections AND beauty, understand both, forgive ourselves, love ourselves, and extend that to the rest of the world…because they are US.
So much easier to believe your group, however defined, is superior. Then of course to cover that up with polite obfuscation. And only debate the things that are acceptable to discuss in polite company.
Debate with a Young Earth person? Why, when the underlying belief is that The Bible says the world is only 6000 years old, and if they lost that belief, it would crack the entire cosmology they use to hold back their fear of death, or deep sense of guilt?
Debate with a sexist, whether male or female? Why, when the underlying belief is that THEY are in control, stealing your life energy, dominating or manipulating you so that your emotions are spinning out of control?
Debate with a racist, black or white? Why, when both are careful to define the term so that it doesn’t include them, so that they don’t have to look at their beliefs, and can blame their personal pain on The Other without grasping the way history impacted the tribal conflicts?
And on and on. All of this would make me sick to my stomach, if I didn’t daily deal with the conflicts, resentments, pains, fears, and angers in my own heart? I can’t look down on any of these people…they are ME. And I love me. So I have to find a way to see that people do this to protect themselves. Anger is fear. Ask yourself what the fear is, and suddenly you are no longer struggling with them. You are honest enough to look back over your own life and realize that you didn’t change when people argued with you. You changed when it became safe to change. When you could drop your guard, discard that habit, when it no longer provided more pleasure and less pain.
All you have to do is extend that to The Other, whether defined by gender, race, religion, or politics, and you will see everything there is to be seen of human history.
Most of the bullshit is just fear, or people who are asleep to the humanity of others.
Most of what remains are the snakes, people who are weak or hold a radically different view of humanity but won’t speak the truth.
And a tiny fraction of what remains after you avoid (or step on) the snakes are monsters, those who really see themselves as separate from humanity, have no love in their hearts, and take pleasure in your pain.
Focus on supporting your tribe, while being kind the sleepers, and mindful of the fact that you’ve been wrong in the past, and may be wrong again. A polite “opponent” can help to wake YOU up. But it isnt’ likely to happen in a “debate.” Maybe 1% of the time, yes. But most of that talk is just air. If you really have the time and energy to do that…be my guest.
But don’t lie and say you don’t have the time to exercise, to finish that novel, to meditate. You’ve chosen to invest yourself in mutual intellectual masturbation, mistaking it for the creation of life.
(how to pierce this veil? Blow out those obstructions? Simple, but tough: commit to growth in all four major arenas of life: body, relationships, career, finances. It is damned tough to do without an increasingly accurate map of reality, without digging deep into who and what you really are. The 101 Program is designed to do just that, starting with just five minutes and seven days. The core is simple: can you trust yourself? Do you keep your word? Do you tell yourself the truth?
If you don’t, the problem with your life is not outside somewhere. It isn’t the location, the time, the cost, or the menu. It is a broken heart.)
The free 7-day program is at: www.fiveminutelifehacks.com