The Harsh Truth

Posted: December 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Once upon a time, I was a devout Mormon. It actually wasn’t that long ago, though I’ve changed so much that it feels like another life or even a fairy tale. But I didn’t change easily. I had doubts for a long time. There were issues that didn’t sit well with me. Problems that challenged my sensibilities. And while I prided myself on being a seeker of truth, I wasn’t asking the right questions. Until someone pushed me…

I enjoyed religious discussions immensely, and I participated in such through various outlets. For several years, I respectfully discussed faith related questions with people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. While these discussions helped expand my knowledge and understanding of my religion and the religions of the world, and even presented me with information that fostered more doubts, it was not enough to drive me toward an unbiased study. I even became an “apologist” and ghost writer for sites designed to answer the “tough questions” so believers would not be led away from their faith.

Through it all, I thought I was standing on the side of truth, and I believed firmly that “the truth will withstand scrutiny, but a lie, no matter how skillfully crafted, will wilt and wither under the intense heat of inspection” (Rod Parsley). So I continued to discuss, and study, and dig… and I eventually started digging into topics that my fellow believers considered “off limits”. I was told to avoid discussing anything that wasn’t “faith promoting”. I was told the answers to the questions I was asking were not “pertinent to my salvation” and so were unimportant. I was told that there were NO answers and that “all would be revealed” in the afterlife. And so on, and so forth… and that wasn’t good enough for me.

So, I started looking for a setting in which the discussions I was looking for would be permitted and not ignored. I found an online group of mostly ex-Mormons designed to be a place where nothing was off the table. I knew I’d be dealing with people who would challenge my faith there, but… “the truth [would] withstand scrutiny”… It was in this group that I found myself confronted by a very crass, vulgar, and passionate atheist. His discussion tactics caused quite a bit of upset, and MANY argued that he was taking things too far. I even left the group a couple times, but returned because I could not find any other outlet that would permit the discussions I wanted to engage in.

It was the direct, merciless, badgering approach of this individual that finally broke through my biases. I took his words to heart. I examined them, studied them, and could find no error in the logic. I engaged him in debate and found myself rethinking everything I’d thought I knew. My fellow believers would argue that I was allowing myself to be influenced by the devil – but there was TRUTH in what he was saying. Unflinching, unyielding, unforgiving, truth. And I came to find that this individual who withstood constant attacks and defamation of his character due to his language and confrontational demeanor was only harsh in the face of reprehensible lies, excuses, and hypocrisy.

He was never cruel. He was never malicious. He defended the weak. He stood up for victims. Yet, he was hated and ridiculed, because people were so upset about his use of words like “fucktard” and “turdsucker” that they lost sight of what he was actually saying. “Attack ideas, not people” was an understood rule of discussion that he was intent on breaking, and if it weren’t for his steadfast focus and uncompromising, irreligious intolerance for… well, fucktardery, the barrier of my own cognitive dissonance never would have been broken.

Perhaps I’m a rarity. Perhaps one really can “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. I witnessed countless individuals driven away by this offensive. They’d leave the group, block this “attacker”, or simply remain silent and stop participating. It was eventually decided by group administrators that the language, personal attacks, and graphic descriptions utilized by this person would no longer be tolerated. The desire for RESPECTFUL discussions won out… but how many people actually change their opinions, actually accept truth that goes contrary to their internalized reality, through respectful discussions?

Change isn’t really the goal, some say. The sharing of ideas… Mutual understanding… Those are the goals of a discussion group. And this idea that every person should be treated with respect, no matter what, was deemed more important than standing up for truth. But you can do both, some say… Perhaps. But I don’t want to be respectful of morally repugnant beliefs or the people who defend those beliefs. Not anymore.

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Comments
  1. Nienna says:

    I suppose his approach does work sometimes I must admit, first time someone insults me with a rude name I switch off.

    Like

    • karrinfalk says:

      I think that is fairly typical for most. People tend to put up a mental barrier once someone is rude to them, and I’ve seen many people lash out in retaliation with his posts. For me though, it made me think about things more. I did lash out at first and put up that wall, but observing the pattern and seeing what drew out insults and what didn’t… kind of opened my eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

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