Sunday, February 19, 2017

Disagreeing with my father

This is the first of a series of cross postings from another blog of mine called Rum, Romanism and rebellion. I've decided to use the other one as a place to write a sort of public diary, a place where I will take some selections from my private journal and put them "out there" just because. AT the same time, I will take some posts from there that I have put up over the past three years and share them here.

I love my father but see things differently than he does. This photo, which he shared on Facebook, is a good source to draw out how I disagree.

My father was sharing a post by the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton who were, in turn, sharing it from Michael Baisden Live. I'd never heard of Baisden before but, according to Wikipedia anyway, eight million people listen to his radio show.

The sentiments above, are typical of those who value getting along above truth. As a consequence, arguing with them is not a matter of establishing what is or isn't true. It should be obvious, that while it is true that apologizing requires bravery when you have something to apologize, apologizing for things that aren't their fault is what spineless wimps do. Likewise, while it is sometimes the case that truly strong people can often forgive what moral weaklings continue to resent, weak people show their weakness by forgiving what they should not. And if you forgive what you should not forgive you will never forget but will stew in resentment for decades.

There is, however, little point in trotting out facts in the face of such sentiments for what really matters to the person who says, or posts, such things is avoiding conflict. The strategy at work here, and that is what it is, imagines that the natural state of the world is to be at peace. As a consequence, evil enters the world when people stir things up and peace can be obtained if everyone agrees to just get along.

But the truth is that world is naturally chaotic and order is only maintained because brave, strong people work to keep it that way. When warranted, an apology is a good thing. Strength is always a good thing and, sometimes, forgiving is a sign of strength. Apologizing and forgiving to get along, on the other hand, is neither brave nor strong. It's surrendering in order to get peace. and that is a mistake in many ways.

For starters, it just doesn't work. Apologize to a bully and they will only bully you more. But there is a deeper problem.  It involves what Robert Glover calls a covert contract. Notice the wording, "The first to apologize ...". The first? Shouldn't only the person who has done wrong apologize?

If you challenge the person who pushes the above sentiments, their first line of defence will be to argue that it takes two to tango. And that is where the nihilistic roots of the argument get revealed. Yes, two people can start a fight by both being pigheaded but that is a relatively rare phenomenon. Most conflict starts because one side is being unreasonable. But the person who suggests that you apologize when you are attacked doesn't care about that. They just want peace and they imagine that an apology will buy off the attacker. Why? Because it's a contract: "I'll let you have your way if you stop being aggressive." But it's a covert contract so this never actually gets said. The other person simply hears an apology and assumes, therefore, that you really think it's your fault.

About thirty years ago I figured out that this is a recipe for unhappiness. The truth matters and sometimes you have to stand up for the truth even if it means conflict.

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