Category Archives: Responses

On Being an Extrovert in an Introverts-are-Victims World

I’ve recently come across a blog written by a Kentucky-based talk radio host named Matt Walsh.  He’s young, opinionated, Christian, and fairly conservative or libertarian or something.  Whatever it is, reading his stuff is often like reading a much smarter, more articulate version of myself.  (What an interesting mix of surprise and not-surprise-at-all when I learned that he was a fan of Ron Paul).  I was planning on doing a blog post about how so many people, especially people without children, seem to consciously refuse to understand how children are and what parents can do to “control” them.  It was going to be based on some ignorant comments I got in an ill-advised, YouTube-based argument I had a few weeks ago, but I’m not going to write it now because Matt Walsh nailed it better than I could have.  So read that.  Then come back and we’ll proceed.

So he wrote a post that dealt with three different topics.  The first was homeschooling vs. public schools, then there was our society’s faux “diversity,” and lastly there was a discussion on his introversion and how it is to live in what he perceives to be an extroverts’ world.  This, as was the case several times before, was something that I’d meant to get around to writing about.  Except this time I landed on the opposite side of where he was coming from.  I’m a very extroverted person, and over the last year or so I’ve learned more about what “extrovert” really means other than just being a person who feels energized by socialization.  The more I’ve learned, the more irritated I’ve become at the audacity that so many “introverts” seem to have about how poorly treated they are by society, and how “extroverts just don’t get them.”  In a broad sense, I compare this to how Feminists have written the rules for accepted gender interaction in our culture over the last several decades, but will still blame everything on “patriarchy” and don’t stop to consider what kinds of issues men face.  Though please understand that’s an extreme comparison and I get considerably less angry by the introvert/extrovert thing.

Since Walsh so perfectly set up the kinds of points I was intending to react against, I left a lengthy comment discussing and defending extroverts such as myself.  It’s gotten a surprising amount of praise from both self-described introverts and extroverts, and I like it enough that I’m going to share the meat of it here.  What follows is a mildly-expanded version of the numbered points of my comment.

This is addressed to any introverts who think that extroverts don’t understand them, drain them, and/or confuse them:

1. In social situations I have a nearly-uncontrollable desire to be liked.

Not to be the center of attention–that person hogging all the attention is not demonstrating their extroversion but instead their insecurity. No, I just need to not feel like the other people around would prefer I leave. To the point that if, at the end of a given interaction, it seems that I’m not thought of well, it can haunt me for days and in some very real cases, years. As an introvert your reaction to this is likely dismissive, saying, “you shouldn’t care what other people think!” Save it. I’ve heard that since middle school and spent nearly two decades of my life feeling bad because other people’s impressions of me is something that I can’t help caring about. A lot. I can’t let go of that any more than you can just suck it up and learn to love meaningless small talk.

2. Extrovert is not synonymous with party animal.

When it’s said that extroverts need to be around people to feel energized, many introverts imagine someone like me needing to hop into a massive party and dance the night away to techno music while downing Jaegerbombs and filling the gaps with huge, steaming piles of useless, surface interactions. That could not be farther from the truth.  I can’t speak for all extroverts but I can say that large gatherings are worse than being alone to this extrovert. Recently my wife and daughter took a trip away for a week while I stayed home. I got sick right before they left and as a result spent several miserable days at home alone with next to zero interaction with anyone. By the end of it I felt some considerable depression settling in. Thankfully a cookout had been planned by a small group of friends and I was able to attend. I got re-energized in the best way possible by spending quality time with a handful of people I like, and we simply ate and talked. We talked about politics, pop culture, nerd culture, and personal stories and shared memories. If that gathering instead had been a large number of people interacting on only a superficial level, I would have been worse off than if I’d stayed home. I need interaction and socialization to feel energized, but it has to be real and meaningful.

3. Do you get exhausted by your extroverted friends? Guess what. . . .

I wish I had known more about all this introversion/extroversion stuff when I was in college because in those days my closest friends were at least in part introverted, in the proper sense. If I had my way, we’d have spent every possible second hanging out and talking and laughing both in large and small groups. Instead I was regularly made to feel awkward by these friends (and somewhat shameful, though not intentionally on their parts) because they would get “peopled out” and need to spend a weekend in or something. That’s fine for them but I always felt drained and abandoned at the sheer mention of this. We extroverts don’t always have a couple spare sets of extrovert friends waiting in the wings to spend time with us when the introverts need some alone time.  As an adult now I understand that this is just the nature of things when introverts and extroverts are friends and compromises need to be made for everyone. But the point is that if you feel drained by extroverts, understand that it goes both ways. (And which do you think is easier?  To insist on more alone time?  Or to insist that your friends spend more time with you?)

4. Extroversion is not synonymous with confidence.

I’ve been a socially averse and shy person my whole life. Not a great combination with extroversion, let me assure you. I’ve had plenty of people that I’m comfortable around make the incorrect assumption that I can walk into any social situation and own it, because that’s how I am around them. I’ve also been annoyed by people I don’t know who observe how quiet I am around them and assume that I “must be introverted and needs to be left alone.” This is currently a problem area for me because my church is one that is huge on being outward-focused, so a lot of emphasis is placed on meeting new people on Sunday mornings and not just chatting with your friends before and after service. But my shyness (and fear of not being liked or coming across as awkward–see #1) regularly prevents me from doing this. I’m still riling over a handful of terrible examples of such interactions that took place about ten years ago, too (see #1), so that’s another hurdle.

5. Extroverts often need to process externally.

Do you find that, in order to finish your creative or critical ideas, you need some quiet time alone? Well I have found that I can only ever get so far with a story idea, or a song idea, or with mapping out my thoughts on a social, theological, or political issue, by working on it by myself. I have to discuss it with someone else, or tell someone about it, and as I walk through it to them the ideas fall into place, I work out kinks in the logic, and I can begin to find some structure. I have a LOTR-style fantasy story I’ve slowly developed since I was 12, and the times I’ve filled in the biggest gaps and ironed out the biggest plot holes were the times I convinced a friend to let me tell them about it. The bands I had in the past–the best songs I wrote we’re ones that came about by interacting musically with my band mates. I’ve not been in a band for 9 years, now, and I’ve only finally been able to write again in the last two months. It took that long to figure out how to do it 100% alone. I’ve known songwriters who can write whole albums by locking themselves in a room for a weekend–take a guess if they were introverted or extroverted. So maybe that extrovert isn’t wasting your time, but is trying to work and process through something. That said I don’t defend people needlessly talking to strangers. That annoys me. Don’t get me started on strangers at work asking me about my lunch.

In conclusion, before you go off about how the world thinks that all introverts are creepy loners, take time to see if  you’re doing what so many others do and viewing extroverts as inch-deep blabber mouths who can’t get through the day without going energy-vampire on some poor, innocent introvert at the coffee shop.  Half of being understood is understanding those around you better.

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The Stupid “Socialism” Experiment

One of the radio shows I listen to at work featured the following video and praised it as smart and clever, if not genius:

The message is, of course, that the things you earn in life are yours and no one should be forced to give those things up against their will to assist people who didn’t work as hard as you did, and ended up with less. As the end of the video states, this is a thinly-veiled commentary on the “immorality” of Socialism.

Except it’s really, really stupid.

I am not a socialist, I am not communist, I am not even liberal; I just cannot stand poorly thought-out analogies by people so cocky about their “message” that they haven’t even stopped to think through what they’re talking about.  Nothing in this video makes sense when you really take the time to lay out why a GPA is absolutely nothing like money and therefore presenting the crazy, unfair idea of redistributing higher GPA’s to failing students is not the same as presenting the idea of redistributing mass wealth to people dying of starvation.

Many students signed the petition because (I think) GPA redistribution sounds logical and compassionate at face value to someone who has left-leaning viewpoints.  But I’m not going to call them out for being gullible–it’s hard to catch all the holes in something like this when you’re on the spot and on camera. Some people tried to point out how idiotic this idea is, but just like trying to catch all the logistical holes in three seconds, it’s hard to really be able to pick it apart in all its ludicrousness in the same amount of time.  So I’ll take the time here.

Please take note and remember: I’m not here to advocate socialism or the redistribution of wealth as good ideas (I really don’t think they are); I’m here to demonstrate that you cannot walk around a campus talking about redistributing GPA scores and think you’re making some irrefutable argument about anything other than your own lack of analytical thinking.

1. No one inherits a GPA.  Yes, I get that not every rich person inherited their wealth, and more than a few people born rich became poor through their own bad choices somehow, but that’s not the point.  MANY people DID inherit wealth, and even those who were born into some money that went on to be successful and gain even more wealth were able to do so because of the wealth they had to begin with.  No one gets a good GPA because their great-great grandfather carried a 4.0 a hundred years ago.  Some can afford to not have to work which gives them more time for study, sure–but I defy you to to find me statistics that show that kids who can’t afford to not work through college get lower GPA’s on average.

2. GPA’s are not a resource or commodity.  It’s simply a numerical system created to easily demonstrate a student’s academic status.  Money, on the other hand, is limited.  And if you’re like some of the commentors on that YouTube video that want to say, “If wealth isn’t infinite, then how come the Fed can keep creating currency?”, come here so I can slap you (it’s stuff like that which has kept me, a notorious flame warrior in comment sections, from ever getting into it on YouTube). The fact that wealth and money are finite is the very reason it’s bad that the Fed keeps printing more money! They’re not creating more wealth–they’re devaluing what we already have! The point here is that the reason some students have GPA’s so low that they can’t graduate is NOT because all the GPA points were taken by those with 4.0’s.  They have low GPA’s because, for one reason or another, they didn’t make good grades.

3. A student with a 4.0 redistributing their points to other students does a lot more damage to that one student, and a lot less good for those other students, than a billionaire giving away a fraction of their wealth.  AGAIN–I’m not advocating the redistribution of wealth, but (discussions about the dangers of coming into sudden wealth aside) if everyone’s favorite go-to rich guy Bill Gates took $762.5 million (12.5% of his net worth) and distributed that evenly to five poor people, Gates would have far less damage, and those five people far more impact, than if a student with a 4.0 took 0.5 points and gave 0.1 points to five different students.  There’s technically no cap on total wealth possible, but obviously GPA has a cap at 4.0 (or maybe 5.0 if you go somewhere weird).  You might want to hit back at me with something like, “But the video isn’t actually about redistributing GPA, but is instead about how ridiculous it is to insist that wealth be taken from those who have and given to those who don’t.”  Except the analogy cannot hold up because, even in just this one regard, GPA and wealth are such different animals that you can’t logically say that doing A, which some people think is good, is essentially the same as B, which is obviously unfair.  A and B are not comparable.

4. Every student earns their own GPA, for themselves.  When I worked for McDonald’s, despite all of the long hours, the late nights, the frustrating customers, and the disgusting food and building, I was not doing much for myself.  Every dollar I put into the til, I got a fraction of a penny of that dollar.  The vast, vast majority of it went to the guy that owned the local franchise and the McDonald’s executives.  And I’m not even saying they shouldn’t have; they put in a lot more time, a lot more effort, and a lot more risk into that business than I did–but the other side of that coin is that they never would have earned a cent without people like me keeping the restaurant running and bringing in income.  Now compare that to grades in college.  There is not now, nor has there ever been, a college student who puts in hours and hours of study time, working on papers, pulling all-nighters, and never missing classes, so that the majority of their GPA points go to make the “top 10% of students” have even better transcripts.  GPA is essentially a lone venture, where as your wealth depends on other people as well as yourself.

5. To expand on all of these–if you’re able to actually be accepted into a college and you put in the work and the hours necessary or even more-so, it is VERY hard to flunk out.  Almost impossible.  But if you go out into the world and work hard for a company or put in a hundred hours a week into your own business, you can still fail, and actually, statistically, failing is pretty likely.  This is, I think, where this whole “Redistributing wealth is like redistributing GPA’s” thing falls apart the most.  It makes that horribly flawed assumption that people who are poor are poor because they didn’t try hard enough.  That could not be farther from the truth.  The makers of this video and the holders of this perspective want to push this idea that financial success is directly correlated to the amount of effort put in (like a GPA), but that leaves out things like the social class, family wealth, education level, geographic location, and even the year one was born (yes, I’ve read Outliers).  All college students who are extremely dedicated and work the hardest get the highest GPA’s.  In the world of money and wealth, the vast majority of workers who are the most dedicated and work the hardest most often maintain a comfortable middle class status.

I’m convinced that when the students behind this video were told by the people who spoke up that the GPA redistribution plan was dumb, they thought they were hitting their point home.  What they didn’t realize is that the part they were saying was stupid wasn’t the idea of redistribution, but the idea of comparing GPA to wealth.  I find it unfortunate that despite the gaping holes in their little “experiment,” they’re going to be patting themselves on the backs for years to come.  I think that’s what upsets me the most–I tend to be a bit more conservative overall, and come from a conservative family and background.  So when I see people that I, by default, consider my “brethren” (regardless of how distant the relation), I get upset because they’re poorly representing a perspective that I otherwise think has merit.  Probably.  I’ll get into what I think the serious difference between the hard-working wealthy people in this world and the actual “1%” is, some other time.

A Response to Stephen Fry’s “Language”

I had the pleasure of seeing this video a while back and enjoyed its creative structure, its intelligent prose, and the discussion it stirred up in my mind.  I really should hunt down the whole essay, as it’s obvious there are parts taken out so the animator didn’t go mad putting this together, but for right now let’s just focus on what is here.

I think there’s a kink in Stephen Fry’s rationale when he says “the free and happy use of words appears to be elitist or pretentious,” and then goes on to complain about pedants setting out to correct the grammar of the English-speaking world.  He seems to want to use the explanation that those who claim to be “protecting language” are nothing more than snotty people with nothing better to do than tell others they’re wrong, and the people against whom they stand are all budding linguistic geniuses setting out to write love stories and poems.  That is simply not the case, though.  Perhaps things may be different in England; I do fully understand that our cultures are immensely more different than many Americans tend to automatically assume, but in America we have this problem of people mixing “lack of education” with “entitlement” that would LOVE the opportunity to justify themselves under something like Fry’s essay.  Those of us who resist it are, in essence, standing up for the value of education and the importance of understanding the true nature of language as an enjoyable medium.  As I will show, having no grasp on how to properly use punctuation is not the same as using punctuation creatively, though incorrectly.

I want to start with where I agree with Stephen.  It is very tiresome to be regularly exposed to people who have adopted the crusade of pointing out every “your” that should be “you’re” or misspelling of “there” and its kin, and so on.  While I completely understand the temptation, I, like Stephen, have outgrown such nitpicking.  Errors here and there are acceptable when the point is what they meant, and you understood that.  I’m going to risk suffering from the “Lake Woebegone Effect” by stating that I see myself as less of a Grammar Nazi than other Grammar Nazis.  I try to take careful consideration of the context and situation of the written words which I read before I step out on a self-important ledge and suggest they be corrected.  I do not ridicule someone else’s poor language skills as a way to discredit their position in a debate.  I carefully live by the “take the plank out of your own eye first” rule when it comes to my observations of the grammar and spelling of others.

Mr. Fry has even succeeded in having me call into question some of my own “pedantry,” as he would call it, in a broad sense.  After watching this video, I saw the error in my own condemnation of internet languages, most specifically “LOL speak.”  It is a creative use of language and, for those who do it, a fun way to write about their pets on sites about pets.  I still find it really stupid, but in the end it’s not harming anything on its own.  I can say the same thing about text speak in text messages (though I’ve had nary a problem using proper English in my texts) and l337, or leetspeak, in casual websites and online gaming sessions.  Again, I think they’re really dumb and unnecessary, but in their appropriate contexts there’s ultimately nothing wrong with them, and they actually do demonstrate a degree of creativity.  But it appears to me that Stephen Fry seems to think that’s where it stops.  He didn’t mention these new approaches to English in his essay, but I think it’s a simple inference that he would say this is people having fun with language, as they should, and it’s as simple as that, end of story . . . but it isn’t.

He mentioned music at one point, and since music is something I understand fairly well, I’m going to use that as my comparison to demonstrate how he hasn’t looked at this far enough.

A person learns an instrument with a strict set of rules—proper ways to hold it, correct ways to bend your fingers, certain ways to play specific notes, how to read music and play it as it is written, etc.  It’s all very rigid and tends to be boring, especially to younger learners.  But what happens is those students learn all of those rules so that they can be free with their own music later.  Talk to any freestyle jazz musician and they will explain to you that they can “break the rules” and yet get such masterful results because they fully understand the rules they are breaking.  That allows for artistry and creativity.  When you attend a piano recital for a seven-year-old, you expect and understand that the song will be simple and there will probably be more than a few wrong notes and irregular rhythms.  Yet when you go see that same child play a recital ten years later, you expect to hear more skill and precision and complexity.  If they’re just as sloppy and arrhythmic as they were before, you don’t assume creative license, nor do you defend their errors by saying, “I knew what they meant to play.”  Therefore, when I see something written by someone over the age of fifteen, especially outside of the context of casual internet sites, I see nothing wrong with being appalled at excessively poor spelling, complete lack of punctuation, and over-usage of abbreviations like “imho” or “lol.”  They’ve been to school.  They should know better.  And when you see or hear someone defending their right to spell something “how they want to” because “language evolves!,” keep in mind that they are not the literary version of John Cage or Pablo Picasso.  John Cage knew how to play piano correctly.  Pablo Picasso knew how to paint with near picture-perfect precision.  No, those who defend such ignorance are more like someone wanting to be a guitar player but refusing to learn how to tune it, and responding to anyone’s correction or criticism with, “You know, music evolves!”

And speaking of masters of certain arts, let’s bring up Oscar Wilde as Mr. Fry has.  The fact that Wilde did not overly concern himself with the finer details of proper English grammatical structure is not something that should justify the lack of grammatical ability of someone with a high school diploma.  As Fry pointed out, Wilde was among the greatest masters of language usage in the past 1000 years.  His carefree attitude with such rules is not a justification to ignore them ourselves.  If I see Eric Clapton perform live and he doesn’t bend a string far enough or misses a fret, that doesn’t mean that it’s all well and good for me to make similar mistakes in my own playing with reckless abandon.  Clapton, as Wilde did, has proven his expertise, so the occasional error is of little consequence since the end result is still a work of genius.  All of that said, though, I can’t imagine Clapton screwing up a solo.

Based on the little I know about Stephen Fry, I can make an assumption that his love for words and the use of language is something that he touts often, and even takes to a level that I don’t completely understand.  Yet he seems to be making an over-arching dismissal of the importance of proper language skills, only really suggesting that correct grammar is for job interviews and business and schooling, as a sort of “dressing up.”  Well as I said before, things very well could be quite different between England and America, but here in the States, this creative license with language is already overtaking these arenas, too.  Honestly, Mr. Fry, I would rather have a world full of insufferable nitpickers, with their Sharpies in hand, in place to be ridiculed by wordsmiths such as yourself, than face what I see coming, which is a world full of people disregarding education under the excuse of free expression, rolling their eyes at the few of us who understand the rules that once were.  There’s no beauty in an enigmatic scale if you don’t have an understanding of major and minor when you hear it.  So in the same light there’s no artistry in creatively written essays when you don’t understand the structure that should be there in the first place.

About Facebook

As I often do, I read an interesting blog post via Freshly Pressed here on WordPress.com.  Typically, when I read an interesting post and then blog about it, I run off on a related tangent and expand on it.  Not this time.  No, this time I’m writing out a direct reaction to this post, Is Facebook a Farce?, by WordPress user Fungai Neni.  In it she explains that she conducted an experiment by switching her birthday on Facebook from April 2 (the real birthday) to September 13 (the fake birthday).  She was shocked when nearly 100 Facebook friends wished her a happy birthday for the second time in six months, many of whom (apparently) should have known better.  Only one person noticed and pointed out the error.  The message that Fungai Neni drives home with these results is that so many of us are becoming too dependant on tools like Facebook to keep track of important things, such as our friends’ birthdays.  So many of the nearly 150 commentators are right in line with her, saying such things as, “It just goes to show we are obssessed [sic] with typing away on FB and not considering actually meeting up with friends on a face to face basis and actually asking ‘How are you doin’?'” and “Good point, I really hate the fact that people distance their self from real life friendships but keep putting more and more time in meaningless status updates, while thinking they’re staying in touch. Nice experiment!” or “My ‘real’ friends are close to me and know when my birthday is without FB reminders.”

First, I want you, the reader, to do a quick experiment with me.  How many of your friends’ or family’s phone numbers can you recall without checking your phone?  Now remove any phone numbers that you knew before 2003.  I’m willing to bet the number is somewhere between zero and five.  It’s exactly zero for me.  I can sometimes remember my wife’s cell phone number, but that darn prefix keeps throwing me a loop.  418?  409? 427? 555?  I’m never sure.  You already know why this is, right?  Because almost all of us use a cell phone, now, which stores numbers in it and we just look up the person’s name in a menu, rather than dialing the digits.  The disadvantage is that if you’re ever caught without your phone, you will have a hard time reaching someone; the advantage is that the list of places you can call without looking something up in a phone book or searching through your purse or wallet for the number is dramatically increased.

This is technology, and this is the advancement of our society.  We are constantly gaining new tools that allow us to make one or more tasks easier so we can focus on other things.  How many of  you grew up with a dishwashing machine, and then didn’t have one in your first place on your own and were completely overwhelmed in the first week with how much time washing all your own dishes takes up?  How many of you, after getting your first car, stopped walking or biking to your friend’s house that was only about nine blocks away?  Did anyone else watch a movie on VHS after more than a year of getting used to DVD’s, and then about faint when you realized you couldn’t skip chapters in 0.3 seconds and had to rewind when you were done?  Facebook is an advancement in technology that makes certain things easier to allow us to have more time to do other things.  Granted, it’s notorious for the abuses it receives, from status updates listing the day’s mundane errands, to joining or “liking” every community or group about any pointless thing, to obsession with games like Farmville or Mafia, but I truly think that speaks more to the kinds of people using the tool rather than the nature of the tool itself.  People abuse conveniences all the time, and will always continue to do so; that doesn’t mean we should get rid of the conveniences.

Let’s be honest here–Facebook is a great tool.  You can conveniently set up events and guest lists; you can keep a group of people around a certain interest informed more easily; you can quickly share something you found on the internet that you enjoyed, like an article or a cartoon or a video; and, of course, you can catch up with friends you lost contact with years ago and keep in contact with friends who have moved away or changed jobs or changed churches, etc.  On a personal level, I have a lot of friends and acquaintances.  I’ve lived in a few different places and have met a lot of people I like and want to say “hi” to once in a while.  I’m also part of a church filled with people who really like each other, but the list of friends is too big to keep up with all of them on a face-to-face basis.  Facebook allows me to manage this.  I’m not even sure much of how my own social life operates would be possible without Facebook, or some other form of social networking.  There are those who would go on and on about how you’re not really “friends” with those 350+ Facebook users, so you’re really only deluding yourself, but I think that’s being cynical and snotty, as well as missing the point.  Who says that you have to be super-close and in regular contact with anyone you’d ever call a friend or acquaintance?  What’s wrong with having that connection there so that it’s there at a time when you’d want to use it?  Maybe I’m out of touch, but I’ve never heard a SINGLE PERSON EVER use their number of “Friends” on Facebook as a bragging point.

But what about the improper and over-usage of the site?  Isn’t it a legitimate concern that people aren’t socializing face-to-face anymore, that more and more of people’s lives are being lived out on the internet?

Sure, that’s concerning, alright.  Every time I go to the mall, I’m shocked at how empty the place is.  I’m amazed that NO ONE ever seems to go out to dinner with their friends anymore, or go to a park on a nice day, or go see a movie, or go to a baseball game, or just get together at a coffee shop to talk.  No sir, I don’t see any of that at all.  The people I do see are just agenda-laden with their blinders on, trying to get the stuff done they have to get done so they can get back to Facebook to “spend time” with their “friends.”

Have you noticed the sarcasm?  Because you’re swimming in it.

Now I have laughed at the sight of a row of people in a coffee shop all on their laptops with headphones on, but let’s rewind society to before laptops and Facebook and the internet.  What would they have been doing then?  Probably not sharing friendly conversation with perfect strangers with reckless abandon.  They’d probably be reading the paper, or a book, or getting their coffee to go so they can be on their way to some place that has something for them to do on their own.  Nowadays, that “thing for them to do on their own” actually involves interacting with some people on some level.  So what was that thing about people not connecting anymore?

So there we are; I hope I’ve made my point.  The world’s not falling apart at the seams because people are on the internet.  No one that has a grasp on reality depends on status updates as their actual human contact, or thinks that 500 Facebook friends actually means that they’re superior to someone with 200 friends, or has replaced time with friends in person 100% with Facebook Chat.  Things have just changed recently, and it’s fun to shake your fist at something popular.

Represent.

Though you are evil . . .

Let’s start out with me linking something external again.

http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/

A friend of mine posted that on his Facebook page, and as is the case with most of the things that friend posts on his Facebook page, I was in complete agreement.  In fact, my last post actually touched a little on some of the same things, though Dr. Moore is much more articulate and well-spoken than I am.  There are some very big topics that can and are and should be discussed which that article brings up, but there’s one quote in particular that got me thinking today.  It’s something of a tangent, as many of my posts of this nature are.

“Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn’t mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn’t worried about ‘revival’ or ‘getting back to God.’ What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.”

Think about that for a moment.  Satan isn’t primarily concerned about getting guys to look at pornography, to get women to have abortions, to have other religions rise to prominence in America, or even to promote atheism or agnosticism.  His concern is to distract you from Jesus’s sacrifice.  To play it down, to marginalize it.  Taking that a step further . . . that would mean that such things as perversion, murder, pride, etc., are not creations of The Evil One.  They would be creations of man–all results of our own sinfulness.  I’ve often grated up against verses like Luke 11:13 (“If you then, though you are evil . . .”) because Jesus is calling us evil.  But look at what we’ve made!  Look at what we’ve done with what he’s given us!

Something else that was put into new perspective by that quote above is the doom that faces us all by continuing this pursuit of bringing America “Back to God.”  Dr. Moore elaborates more on that in his article,

“. . . American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined ‘revival’ and ‘turning America back to God’ that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.”

I’m going to be bold here and declare that it is Satan who is pushing such empty “revivals” like the one called for by Mr. Beck.  As long as American Christians stay focused on such goals, they’re missing the point, and forgetting what Jesus did on the cross.  The Cross cannot be secondary.  It cannot be an afterthought.  It is where salvation and new life starts.  How clear it becomes when you see that, how it is that so many who “believe” have become fist-pumping loudmouths and not living, or caring to live, lives that represent Christ.  They are no more than more people with opinions.  Also, on a last note, this also puts into perspective for me all of the “good” and charitable causes contributed to and led by Humanistic organizations and people.

Well . . . that’s all I have on this one today.

Confessions of a Closet Yahoo! Answers User

So if you don’t know, Yahoo! Answers is a question and answer forum designed for people to ask questions about a large array of topics, and other users can read these questions and offer answers to them.  There are also a few bonus features added in, like a ranking system, to help keep it interesting.  In theory, it’s a great idea and would and should be a wonderful resource to administer polls, get advice, or learn more about a topic or issue.  Instead, it’s a cesspool of ignorance, poor language skills, vulgarity,  hatred, and 12-year-olds.  But there’s still some worth there, waaaaay under all of that.  Granted, it’s hard to get answers on legitimate questions, but sometimes the site does come through.  The flip-side to asking the questions, though, is answering them.  I alone have answered, over the last three-and-a-half years since I signed up for it, 146 of them.  And I think I’ve provided some good ones–why, if my grandpa were to see these, he’d probably tell me I’m “full of it.”  Oh, Grandpa; how right he usually is.

So let’s look at a few.  By the way, I will be making no edits to any spelling or grammar or even language–to do so would ruin the effect.

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Question:  Myth????? i think not? if people say global warming is a myth and its not real then whats happening on the earth why is spring coming 6 weeks earlier….. why are the polar ice caps melting? can u tell me why

My Answer:   While I have not come to an official, personal stance on the issue, I do know that it is argued that the planet is simply going through a warm phase, and the symptoms we are seeing is due to the natural causes. It has been documented that the earth went through a cool phase over the course of hundred years or more during the middle ages, where the winters were longer and the summers colder, so it is possible that what we are living through is its opposite. I have also heard the argument that the “greenhouse gases” that are said to be the cause of all of this are either made up or are not as serious as some would have you believe, and many of the things we are told that are signs of global warming are not that at all (i.e. the melting snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which I will admit I do not know the alternative theory, just that this is one of the “examples” that has been disputed).

No one is denying the symptoms, but the reason for them is not conclusive, despite what Al Gore says (which brings up another point: that some believe that the global warming issues are blown out of proportion by political figures to increase governmental controls over personal property). However, in the end I personally think that the reaction should be the same: clean up the planet. Warm phase or no, we can certainly do a much better job taking care of things than we are now. I’m going to do my part and go crush some Styrofoam.

Mine was chosen as the best answer by the asker, a fact about which I would be proud except that she rated it 3 stars and explained her choice:  “longest answer.”  That suggests two things to me–First, she had her mind made up on her stance on the topic (“People who don’t believe in global warming are stupid”) and didn’t expect to get any intelligent answers, so, second, she didn’t read any of the answers and just picked a long one.  Or maybe I’m wrong.

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Question:  Do you think its rude? when people come over i want them to take their shoes off because im in a apartment and i have light beige rugs i dont want dirt track marks all over the place even more recently because of all the rain we had here and our apartment complex tore up all our concrete so they can fix it because we keep on flooding so everyone is walking through all the mud and dirt to get here when she came in last night i told her to take her shoes off and she told me no theyre not dirty weather they had mud on them or not i dont want people wearing shoes in here these carpets stain easy how do i get people to take theyre shoes off without sounding rude? and do you think that i had the right to get mad when she refused to take her shoes off or she had the right to get mad for me getting mad?

My Answer:  It’s not rude to demand that others take their shoes off in your home. It is, however, annoying that so many people have a complete lack of understanding of the uses of punctuation.

So I didn’t get best answer on that one, but did get a single “thumbs down” from an unknown user (my money’s on the asker).  I still think it’s funny.  This also demonstrates a common kind of question in Yahoo! Answers . . . the kind of question that makes you ask, “what’s the point?”

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Question:  If amateurs wrote the Constitution and professionals built the Titanic which would be best to lead a nation? …You ever notice Bush and Cheney blame evrything around them for what is wrong?Especially people-Ad Hominem/…aren’t these tactics creating disharmony in our society?

My Answer:  First, while that’s a clever quip, it has faulty logic because the writers of the constitution were not amateurs in the sense that it is implied, and Titanic or no, I’d rather have someone with experience build my cruise liner. While “new blood” can certainly keep things fresh in a culture, if you disregard experience and wisdom, you’ll be trapped on a treadmill.

On the Bush and Cheney part, I would agree with you, but take a bigger look at our entire society. It’s the common point of view these days that anything bad that happens is someone else’s fault, even if you’re the one that pulled the trigger. The disharmony that you speak of is not a result of the Bush Administration, but a result of a society full of grown-up, spoiled children. If we won’t take responsibility for our actions and accept inevitabilities with maturity, how can we expect that of our leaders?

This one’s clearly a bit dated, but is a really good example of one of the many kinds of abuses this site gets.  He’s not seeking to understand an opposing viewpoint here, he’s picking a fight.  Again, I received only a thumbs-down for this answer, and this guy picked a long answer that had someone who agreed with him ranting on how Bush and Cheney were going to destroy the earth.  You know what?  I STILL hold that people who had such an extreme reaction to the Bush Administration were just spoiled and entitled bozos.  “The guy in office doesn’t agree with my points of view, teh gud timz r ovr!!1!lol”

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Question:  What’s a good hairspray alternative? I’ve never really been into the make-up and hair stuff and I wasn’t raised to know much about it but I’m really into emo hairstyles and I want to get one myself, but no matter where I turn they’re saying to use hairspray or styling gel.

So I was wondering: is there an alternative to using hairspray? (I’m not allowed cause it makes my dad sick, but if it’s fragrance-free then it’s fine.) Preferably a cheap alternative.
(If possible, brand names that are easy to find.)

My Answer:  Stop calling it “emo.” Call it what it is – commercialized goth. A true “emo” hairstyle doesn’t require hairspray.

. . . blasted kids.

So it’s apparent that I have only dealt with the IMPORTANT topics on Yahoo! Answers.  Really, my goal has been to educate and enlighten where I can.

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Question: I’m debating in favor of prisoner rights and need statistics…help? I have to base my debate on these three reasons:

(1) Prisoners are humans, and therefore should be treated as such.

(2) Prisoners should be allowed rights because perhaps they were not the true criminal, and so why should they have their rights taken when the guy who really did it is out there getting privileges?

(3) The crime may have been an accident.

I’m having trouble finding statistics for any of these reasons. Please help!

Someone else’s Answer:  Hello Madysen. If it will help you at all, I can give some insight as to how the system is working today.

Up until the mid 70’s, we used Civil Death. When a person was convicted of a felony, he was kicked off the face of the planet and had NO rights. Recidivism was at 15% up to that point. The reason it was so low is that it forced the inmate to realize life was a living hell in prison and the thought of returning was enough to help reinforce the idea of becoming an honest and upright citizen in society.

Since the mid 70’s, we entered into a far more liberal “Rehabilitation and Correction” ideology. Prisons now look like college campuses with razor wire on the perimeter. They do NO work. We do not have the prison factories like the old days where an inmate actually did work for 8 hours a day and was grateful to go back to his cell and rest/sleep. Now they sit around all day pumping iron, watching 60 inch color TVs in the rec area and have full access to mandated legal libraries where they research obscure laws to find loopholes to file frivolous lawsuits at no cost to themselves. ( Two examples of such lawsuits that occured in the last several years: 1: An inmate claimed he needed chunky peanut butter for his digestive tract and we only served smooth. Pain and suffering lawsuit: $25,000. 2: Inmate claimed the stainless steel toilets aggravated his hemorrhoids, causing pain and suffering. Lawsuit filed for $50,000. Both thrown out as frivolous.). Although you might view this as funny or even ludicrous, remember that each and every lawsuit has to be heard in a court of law to determine validity at a cost of thousands of dollars per month. This is YOUR tax money being spent.

Now, in defense of the system today. Inmates ARE governed by Constitutional rights. The right to be free of cruel and inhumane treatment. Proper diet control. Medical, dental and mental health care. To be housed within an environment that is controlled ( we actually have maintenance people walk into the units with digital thermometers to register the temperature of the air and record it).Rights to freedom of accepted religeon ( I say accepted for the satanists within the system, whom are not allowed to practice). Rights of legal counsel and legal redress. I can guarantee that the inmates today are treated FAR better than they ever were in the past and in most cases, far better than they treated their victims that led them into prison.

When a person is convicted of a felony crime, certain rights and priviledges are either suspended or revoked. In Ohio, upon EDS ( Expiration of Definete Sentence), a felon regains his right to vote. A convicted felon, however, does not regain his right to weapon use or ownership. This is part and parcel to breaking the law, has been established as uniform throughout the state system and is applied evenly across the board.

Yes, a crime may have been an accident. Vehicular manslaughter is a representative example of an accident. Bear in mind, whether it was an accident or not, using this example, a life was still taken. Would you feel it would be appropriate for a person to walk away free and clear for driving a car that is a rolling accident that killed a family member by stating ” I didnt mean to kill them?” That is exactly what our Judicial system is in place for. A trial by a jury of your peers that must show a preponderance of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt PLUS the jury must be unanimous in a criminal trial ( versus a majority vote in a civil trial).

Although any of us could argue that there are flaws within ANY system, we still have the fairest legal system in the world today.

I dont know if this truly helps your debate. If you would like further clarification on any point, please post an addendum to your question. I will check back in a day or so and do my best to answer it.

Source(s):

19 years as a Corrections Officer in a max prison

I put this one here instead of my own because that’s a good answer.   In fact . . . this one got best answer by way of user votes, and I think I gave it the one vote it got.  See?  I have no problem with not being the best.

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Question:  Black people when you date your own race what do you prefer? Lighter or Darker skin?

My Answer: Dark.

Please note that my answer is right next to a cartoony avatar that is CLEARLY a white guy.  It still makes me chuckle . . . and I got five thumbs up for it!

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Question:  Tipping is optional. Who here agrees? responde would be, that they would put something extra in my food. I say thats just wrong. If your employer does not pay enough you can quit. You never mess with anyone’s food. Tipping is something I do ONLY when the server goes out of their way and really puts some effort into it. But tipping automaticall as Steve Buscemi put it in 1991’s “Resivour dogs”, is for the birds. They are no different than beggers except that they work and get paid for it. If not enough, I say tough. I’m tired of servers who think that by doing the job they are hired to do they are entitled someting for them. They can take that with their boss and the government. Am I totally alone in this aspect of thinking?

My Answer:  Disagree all you want, the fact remains that they DO only make $3-4/hour in most cases. If you don’t like pressure to tip, you should avoid restaurants with servers. Simply start eating only at places where you get your own food, then you never have to worry about it! Our culture has made it customary to tip, and refusal to comply is not “sticking it to the man,” it is not a social protest, it is simply you showing how selfish and thoughtless you are. And who are YOU to suggest that they take up some other profession? That is none of your business, and you don’t know the first of any circumstances that led to them taking that job.

Lastly, you cannot make statements like you have made if you’ve never worked as a server, and that’s the bottom line. There is more to being a server than just writing down an order and bringing it back; it involves tons of side-work, maintaining stations, keeping the dining room in order, watching drink levels, bowing to every whim of the management staff who sees them as cheap labor, and, most of all, dealing with the day-to-day @$$holes like yourself who expect some kind of extra service outside of REFILLING THEIR DRINKS, LISTENING TO COMPLAINTS ON THE FOOD, AND RE-DRAWING THE CHECK FOUR TIMES before they pay their waitress for doing everything for them as they sat around and complained about how ridiculous it is to tip. And they have to do all of it with a smile on their face.

Okay, back on more serious stuff.  The argument that people shouldn’t tip, and tip well, is one of my hot-button issues.  Like the whole emo thing, but worse.  It seriously gets me so mad I have to talk myself down sometimes.  I got Best Answer on this one by way of votes . . . but I think that was me who did the voting.

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Question:  That in the opinion of atheist comes of them after death?

My Answer: What?

This is among the things that is hard for me to fathom–if you’re going to take the time to type the question, check for duplicates, and then categorize it and post it, how is it that you didn’t stop to notice that you didn’t write a true sentence?

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Question:  Explain the context of setting in Oliver Twist? please help me, it’s for my english homework

My Answer: You’re never going to get far by asking other people to do your work for you.

It makes me happy that I was the only person who answered this question.  I know people can make lots of empty commitments about what kind of parent they will be some day, but I hold that I’ll be watching my kids like a hawk, especially in the earlier years, to make sure they’re not pulling crap like this.  It’s seriously all over this site, too.  It’s one thing to show up and say, “I’m having a hard time understanding this question,” or something, but most often you see kids copying their homework questions into the site, hoping someone will bite.  I’ll be popping the backs of some heads if I catch that in MY house!

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Question:  Will using nylon strings on my steel string acoustic guitar alter the sound? I wouldn’t know. My music teacher suggested it as it is easier to play with nylon then steel. But will it change the sound? My guitar is 4 years old, and has never been re-strung. I am a complete beginner…thanks, Alli B

My Answer: My jaw is on the ground. If your teacher REALLY recommended putting nylon strings on a steel-string acoustic, I cannot stress enough that you need to find a new teacher. You could go with lighter gauge strings, but honestly I’d stick with more mid-range, such as 12’s. As a beginner, a large portion of your focus needs to be on strengthening your hands and fingers.

This is a rare example of Yahoo! Answers to the rescue.  For a short while I started taking interest in answering questions about guitar, since it’s something I know a little about, and this one still blows my mind.  Nearly EVERYONE that answered suggested this person find a new teacher.  Of course, some of them berated him for not changing his strings in four years, and that makes them jerks.  One guy even said that people who don’t change their strings at least every month should be “taken outside and shot.”  Classy.

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Question:  Why is it that a cello performance major has to take piano and a whole bunch of other bullshit just to perform? So, I’ve been playing the cello for 11 years. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do and it’s all I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s all I have really. But I’m a Freshman in college now and am bogged down with theory this and theory that, and, oh yeah, I have to be proficient it piano as well!! I have never taken a piano lesson in my ******* life! I’ve never even seen CM7, or CMm7 or anything like that in any music I’ve ever played because I don’t play modern music. I don’t play jazz. I don’t play guitar, I don’t ******* play piano! How the **** do they expect me to know all of that bullshit?! i just want to ******* play my god damned instrument! why do I have to take all these detours?

My Answer: You’ll find that expanding what you know about music in general will improve what you understand about your own instrument. Piano is arguably the most basic of all western instruments, and understanding it will help you with cello more than you may realize.

The avatar next to that photo provides an interesting source point for that question–it’s of a really pissed-off looking girl.  Re-reading my answer tells me that could have been a lot more mean than I was.  I hope that she, as I did, has learned the value of a well-rounded education over a narrowly focused one.  The sad fact, however, is that many never do.  (Oh . . . and did she say “C major minor seventh?”  What the heck is that?  She clearly needs those theory classes.)

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Question:  Is there a flaw in my logic? Many people try to work toward a goal of changing something for the better.

Often, atheists will work toward making this world better, as in an atheist’s eyes, this world and life is the only one we have.

Also often, Christians will work toward making the next life better, as in a Christian’s eyes, the main reward they receive will be after death. Many Christians do work for this world as well, but the very core of Christianity involves working for a reward in heaven.

Is it then logical to say, that the atheist’s view of working toward improvement is better for this world, and that the Christian view would be better for the next life? If we were to look at the perspective of only improving this world, and ignore all other worlds, wouldn’t global atheism be seen as the optimal situation for the best possible society?

Now I can see the other side of the coin. If there is a next world, then in terms of only looking at the next world (heaven or hell), the Christian view would be seen as optimal for the best possible outcome of that world (I’m ignoring other religions now for the sake of simplicity).

Which brings me to my point and conclusion. If there is no life after death, is it then safe to conclude that Christianity impedes us as a society in the only world we have? Even if Christianity is right, can we then use the same logic to prove that all other religions have impeded progress in society, and that the world would be better off without religion? And since no singular religion (including Christianity) can prove itself to be valid, isn’t it then logical to say that all religions impede progress, and that the world would be better off without any of them?

My Answer: I can at least let you know that there are some flaws in some of your logic:

1) The very core of Christianity is NOT working for a reward in heaven. If you meet honest, true Christians, they do what they do because they love Jesus for saving them, and part of loving Jesus is loving and caring for others. The promise of eternal life is a big deal, but we’re not doing what we do to earn points.

2) In its truest form, Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. If you read what Jesus and the Apostles taught, you’ll find that much of it was about not being fake and legalistic, but truly loving God and loving others and living to ultimately glorify and worship Him. It is unfortunate that so much of western Christianity has traded that reality for pushy and offensive evangelism and right-wing agendas, because doing so has confused the rest of the world as to what we’re supposed to be about.

3) A fully atheistic society faces an ultimate problem. At where we are now, it seems that it would be easy for everyone to move towards a goal of a better world, but the farther along you get, the more divided everyone will become on what that “better world” should look like. When you have no absolute truth or standards, no one person’s opinion is greater than another’s, and then how are you to decide where to go? I guess you could say that everyone should just go their own way and live peacefully with everyone else, but you cannot deny that also slows and impedes progress, and you also must face the reality that peoples’ own ways will on occasion be so polar opposite that both cannot exist at once. Then whose is right?

Do you see that?  As arrogant as it may seem to say this about my own answer, that’s a civil response to a fairly civil and honest question about the value of religion.  The answer selected as “best answer” was even better.  What were most of the answers, though?  Ones like this:  “because cristions worry about the torcure of hell; and try to get to heaven where the streets are paved with gold” I sometimes wonder how it’s possible that humans haven’t cured cancer or colonized Mars yet.

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Question:  To be emo do i have to have a lip piercing? plz help me they also say i have to cute my self is it true

This one was actually kind of recent, when I went on the site to ask a question of my own, and I couldn’t pass it up.  So I now conclude this painfully long post with this painfully long answer I wrote.  It’ll be up for voting for best answer tomorrow:

My Answer: You cannot “be” emo. Emo is not a kind of person, but rather a style of music with origins in early 80’s east-coast punk rock that evolved into a more artistic version of punk rock by the mid and late 90’s, based largely in the Mid-west (it was, in some ways, 90’s college rock). Please heed what I’m about to tell you–you’ll be much smarter and less annoying for it.

The term became bastardized in the early 2000’s with the rise of groups incorrectly labeled “emo,” like Dashboard Confessional and Fall Out Boy, despite those groups (and their kin) sounding nothing like the groups from the 90’s, such as Cap’n Jazz, Braid, Promise Ring, Jawbreaker, The Get Up Kids, and pre-“The Middle” Jimmy Eat World. It was also around that time that the store Hot Topic came into its peak, and it encompassed fashions of not only punk rock, but of the goth scene as well, and sold music and posters of many kinds of groups, some of them emo. Many people outside of the punk, ska, and emo scene at the time didn’t know what emo was (and honestly, it was a hard genre to really pin down, unlike punk or ska). Since many people had never heard of “emo” before going to or hearing of Hot Topic, it became synonymous for a while with those stores, as was the sub-culture “goth.”

This is where things started to get gross. Goth and emo were further associated by their quasi-similar, generic themes of “lamenting over broken relationships” (emo) and “I’m so dark and depressed all the time and wish I could die” (goth).

Since the general populace is rarely concerned with differentiating between sub-cultures, “emo” and “goth” were married together in popular culture’s eyes in the most unholy union since Japan and Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s, becoming this odd sub-culture (called “emo,” much to my annoyance) that was generically centered around the theme of “I’m so dark and depressed by lamenting over broken relationships that I wish I could just die; or maybe I’ll just cut myself,” and focused on music that was truly nothing more than watered-down Blink182, which was already watered-down punk rock.  Seriously–go to Grooveshark, look up and listen to “First Day Back” by Braid, and then go listen to something by My Chemical Romance. Outside of their instrumentation, do they sound even remotely similar?

So at the end of it all, you have a genre of music that represented the next natural maturation of the punk rock underground scene, which was unsuccessfully brought to the mainstream by people who had no idea what it was, thus confusing everyone else about it, leaving you with people mocking or trying to be something called “emo” that was completely created by commercialism and misguided groupthink.

Let me illustrate this a different way before concluding. In 1989, the prog-rock group Jethro Tull won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, amid much controversy. They were hardly a hard rock or metal group. So what happened? Well, the suits and stiffs in charge of the Grammys had absolutely no idea what Heavy Metal really was, and they just lumped those guys in with other groups like Metallica. There was such an outrage over this that the award category was dropped, but imagine for a second that instead of people being outraged, the general populace began to think that “Heavy Metal” bands have flutists and dress like out-of-work hippies. And then real heavy metal bands faded away and moved on with their lives in different areas, and anything called heavy metal from that point forward brings to mind art-rock. Now imagine that you were a Slayer and Metallica fan in 1988, and all that stuff happened, and by the late 1990’s, kids were asking you “do I need dreadlocks to be heavy metal? I also heard that you have to walk around outside naked sometimes, is it true?” Does that seem silly and ridiculous? If it were real, it would probably tend to piss you off. That’s how I feel when someone asks if they need a lip piercing or to “cute” themselves to be emo.

But I guess the short answer to your question is “no.”

The Inconsistency of “Tolerance”

Here on WordPress, the main page of the site produces several blog posts that are published on that particular day, and it’s great to skim what others write and even find some really fun blogs and/or interesting discussions.  The latter was the case last Friday when I read a post that was a call for society to practice tolerance across the board; that we should recognize, as people, we are all different and will have different likes, preferences, beliefs, desires, etc., and we should respect and accept the fact that those differences do and will exist, and accepting this is important above all else (and of course, it is most important in the areas of sexuality, religion, and culture).  You can read the whole thing here.

Now I, like many Christians, have an immediate clash with this kind of approach.  However, while many who share my uneasiness tended to take the “if you tolerate everything, you have to tolerate intolerance, which contradicts the purpose of tolerance in the first place” angle (some did so eloquently, others no so much), I opted for more of the “such a call to action is as much a ‘do things my way’ demand as anything else” angle.  Yet I’m not writing this to reiterate my comment.  The author did reply, clarified (I assume) her own meaning a little more, and thanked me for adding to the discussion.  On such a forum I could not ask for a more mature response.

Instead, what I’m writing about today is about many of the other comments that were left by the hundreds of readers of this post.  The following is a very clear example of what happens when you get a bunch of people into the same place that have all opened up their hearts and turned off their brains.  Sometimes they claim to agree with the author but add their own two cents, thus contradicting the original post, then the author would thank them for reading and say that she agreed–neither one of them noticing that their ideas are incompatible.  Other times they contradict themselves in the same sentence.  Even the author is so bent on mushy feelings that it seems she won’t even stand up for what she has said.  As I said before, I think she’s mature in the way she’s handled the comments, and I have no intention of belittling her, but that doesn’t mean I think she knows what she’s talking about.

Here are some excerpts from some comments and my responses to them.  (All comments are copied and pasted, so . . . you know . . . [sic]).

(the Author, in response to my comment) I respect you opinion and that you disagree with my approach, but I am not trying to say that it is the way I think it should be, therefore it is the gospel truth. All I tried to do is put into words what i feel, which is what most people tried to, is what you tried to do with your comments. . . .

Except that she DID say that it was the way she thought it should be.  That was the very nature of her post.  It’s right there in the title: “The World Would be a Better Place If . . .”  Maybe she’s new to the “game” when it comes to expressing these kinds of opinions, but honestly if you aren’t prepared to commit to what you say you shouldn’t get in the ring.

If people give up identifying themselves as separate to each other, then and only then, we will witness a shift in the consciousness of the world.

How about some Sociology 101?  There are essentially two different, overarching, cultural structures:  collectivism and individualism.  Collectivism is a society like China or North Korea where the individual’s desires are irrelevant, and the desires and expectations of family and society trump all.  Individualism is the opposite, meaning each individual person is allowed and expected to define themselves.  “Tolerance” is an individualist point of view in that each person is expected and encouraged to find their own truths and respect those that others make for themselves.  This comment, though presented as being in line with the post (and even agreed upon by the author), is a collectivistic idea, in that our lives are all intertwined and we need to understand that the things we decide for ourselves effect others.  The two are contradictory, but neither the author nor the commenter noticed.

It’s true that a lot of us struggle to take in ideas and concepts which are different from ours, once we grasp the idea of respecting another individual for who he/she is, the world would definitely be a better place.  I think we do not need to harness hatred for others, but it is not necessary to preach the love for all humans. Acceptance will do It is very neutral.

I find this one fascinating because this person is insisting that “loving one another” is unnecessary–just accepting is fine.  Well, I could argue all day about how demanding the minimal “acceptance” is not nearly enough to make any place better, but instead let me ask a different question, since this is the perfect opportunity to pull out an old debate:  isn’t “hatred” an idea or concept that is different from your own, and therefore should be taken in or respected?  If that strikes you as a silly or tired argument, then let me ask who draws the line, and where?

(In response to another comment that stated such things as “rapists should rape other rapists,” etc., seemingly facetiously) If a person kills another, that is clearly wrong and the LAW should deal with them. If a man loves another man, who has been harmed? I think you are confusing ‘harming people’ (which is wrong) with ‘offending people’s sensibilities’, which is due to their own beliefs.  Lifestyle choices should not even come into the realm of law and punishment, unless that lifestyle choice ends in somebody being harmed. . . .

There is an assumption made here that this commenter thinks is basic, human understanding, but is actually based out of beliefs: harming someone, anyone, ever, is wrong.  Not every society ever (and currently) has agreed that harming anyone is inherently wrong.  In fact, the “do what you want as long as you don’t hurt anybody” philosophy is not only one point of view among thousands, but is also fairly recent.  This also flies in the face of the relativism of “tolerance” because that is an absolute statement.  There is this ignorance among the “tolerant” in that they don’t always realize that many of the truths to which they cling are dependent upon a system of absolute truth.  More of this on its way . . .

Thank you for this post and your thoughts. It’s disappointing how some people go to that slippery slope when thinking of acceptance of difference.  Certain things are true: abuse of power, or acceptance of what happens within the context of any power imbalance is wrong: that means certain things should never be accepted: acceptance; hate, hypocrisy and abuse.

On what is this person basing their belief that “certain things are true?”  Who determines this imbalance of power?  Based on my own beliefs, demanding that every religion be accepted as equally valid is an imbalance, because those other religions are not truth.  Giving equal precedence to (what I believe are) lies and deceptions is not balanced, so you can begin to see how the phrase “power imbalance” is cripplingly ambiguous.  More coming still . . .

We all just want to be accepted as we are. Who knows why God made some people Gay? Who knows why God made my eyes blue? But they are and that cannot be changed Being Gay is not a choice and being Gay is NOT A SIN. Best response is simply to give thanks and accept yourself first.

I have gotten into discussions before where I suggested that homosexuality is not genetic but could be a result of genetic predisposition and certain environmental factors that would vary from person to person.  I’ve made the “mistake” of suggesting this to be similar to how someone could be predisposed to be an aloholic or have a violent personality, and the person on the other side of the argument almost always hits back with, “are you suggesting that being gay is like being an alcoholic or abusive?”  The hole in the logic of that rebuttal is a mile wide, but  there’s no strong way to respond without saying, “Yes, I do.”  In a nutshell: I hate that rebuttal.  So I want to say that if I can’t use that comparisson to support my view, you cannot compare homosexuality to being born with blue eyes.  But alas, back to the other issues in this comment.  Note the lack of reference here.  ” . . . being Gay is NOT A SIN.”  Why isn’t it?  And why is accepting  yourself first the best response?  I believe the opposite of those things and my reference is the Bible.  Agree or disagree, I have a reference; this person’s reference appears to be how they feel.

What’s with people taking tolerance into the deep end?? Is racism tolerant of people with different cultures or ethnicities? Is murder tolerant of the desire for someone to live a full life? Tolerance is a slipperly slope apparently! One day we accept homosexuals as normal, next we’ll accepting the pedofile down the street to watch the kids! A loving, tolerant community wouldn’t allow sex trafficing, pedofilia, rape, or anything that harms the community. (and no, having homosexuals around doesn’t harm the community.) It’s not intolerance, it’s just true human nature.

This person obviously finds the (admittedly tired) argument of “if you accept everything, you must accept pedophilia” to be invalid.  I feel the need to remind them that as recently as 30 years ago, and certainly 50-60 years ago, the idea of government-recognized gay marriage was laughable, so don’t underestimate the power of some confused person’s sympathy to a misguided person’s ploy over time.

. . . No God of mine would support such lack of compassion.

Interpreted:  “My ‘God’ agrees with me.”  One of the more serious problems I see in all of this is those who aren’t atheists or agnostics seem to think that their self- and culturally-determined beliefs are also what God deems good or bad.  That’s rather egocentric, don’t you think?  I certainly believe God loves us and that God is infinitely more compassionate than we could imagine, but I’m not basing that idea off of my list of preferences.

. . . It seems that some people are really caught up in believing their thoughts. If everyone paid a little less attention to their thoughts and a little bit more to the present moment, we’d be on our way to a happier place.

What’s so funny to me about this last one is that I completely agree with the first sentence, albeit with an entirely different focus.  But the rest of the comment, not so much.  What dictates that “the present moment” is superior to other moments?  I should just give up my beliefs and opinions and go the way that society is going?  Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure that the direction of the present moment is a direct result of someone’s thoughts.  I think what this person means is “people need to pay less attention to the thoughts they have that don’t agree with what I think is right.”

There’s a lot more comments in there, but I think I’m done.  It does frustrate me to hold to my point of view on these things because people assume that playing “devil’s advocate” with their philosophies means that one supports hatred.  Well of course I don’t.  Yet I don’t think, either, that hatred is our world’s number one problem. . . . that’s a post for another time, though.