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Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Violence Inherent in the System

Increasingly, we are being told that it is no longer acceptable to discuss things that are plainly taught in the Bible. To dare to subject the ears of the delicate flowers among our family, friends, neighbours and peers to the word of God — not to mention those who might come across our views on the internet or elsewhere — is to engage in an act of abuse.

The current generation of post-secondary students accepts this as inarguable dogma:
“... if the popular Christian notion of abstinence is wrong, we have been mentally and emotionally abusing quite literally millions of people.”
— Student, to Jerry Walls
Richard Dawkins makes it explicit. You’re not only being repressed, you’re being outright damaged:
“But if your whole upbringing, and everything you have ever been told by parents, teachers and priests, has led you to believe, really believe, utterly and completely, that sinners burn in hell ... it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds.”
— Richard Dawkins
Unlike Dawkins, the student at least acknowledges the possibility that objective truth may be found in Scripture. He qualifies his concern for those who have been “mentally and emotionally abused” (and this merely by accepting the sound advice to avoid indiscriminate fornication) by saying “if the popular Christian notion of abstinence is wrong”, which actually assumes it may not be.

But both statements characterize the sharing of an opinion based on the word of God as “abusive”.

I wonder when we all became so fragile? I mean, really, are we so sure we have things figured out that this generation is no longer willing to even hear any view that conflicts with society’s received wisdom?

I’m old enough to remember hearing “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. You yelled it in the schoolyard to make it known that you were capable of dealing with whatever the other guy or girl was verbally dishing out. It was water off a duck to you because you were mature enough not to be reduced to tears by some petty insult or minor offence.

But the only time you’ll find that nursery rhyme referenced today is when Google directs you to some credentialed authority figure assuring you that it’s not true and that words are actually more damaging than fists.

Hey, I’ve been hit with plenty of both growing up. Give me words any day.

Even 40 years ago, Monty Python could see the funny side of calling mere dialogue repressive:
“Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed!”
— Dennis, in Monty Python and the Holy Grail
but that was 1975 and I guess we’re all wiser now.

Or something.

Here’s a thought: What if we let people actually say their piece?

I know it’s a crazy notion, but what if we let even biggest, most opinionated, loudmouthed gasbag make his case until he has nothing more to say? What if, instead of shouting him down, we heard him out and considered his case on the merits, even if it turned out to be something with which we would normally not agree?

The word of God tells us a time will come that will be … well, just like this: when they will shut you down before you are able to say anything of consequence; when they will refuse to hear anything that might actually help:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
(2 Timothy 4:3-4)
A real man or a real woman wants to know the whole story. He or she is not satisfied with shouting down the arguments of the other side before they are even heard. He or she is confident enough in what they believe to listen to the best shot the opposition can offer, and then to dish out the same.

Or maybe we should all just whine about the “violence inherent in the system” instead.

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