7. Fallout

Dr. Steven G. Minor
Church Politics Administrator

Dishing out harmful comments — whether directly striking the hearers or through second hand exaggerated gossip — contaminates any community and derides any hope of spiritual life.  But merely wounding “them” seldom yields the desired effect, for usually they strike back in retaliation.  The ego is a tender and frail entity when it is “spouting off” and the counter punch always hits deep.  Returning the pain is the only recognized recourse.  And the conflict rises to ever increasing levels with deep, angry passion.

Pride demands attention, which then evolves into the expected Power and Control modus operandi.  Antagonists want more than their fair share; they want it all!  Unilateral negotiation will be scoffed as ridiculous.  They not only want to win, they want the other side to lose.  That loss is not simply a consequence of winning – they crave an active and intentional loss.  Both a selfish victory and devastation to the “other side” is sought with vigilant abandon.

The primary intention is the satisfaction of the ego, which will never happen since such carnal desire is never satiated.  Solomon’s observation on money enlightens this futility, “Those who love money never have enough; those who love wealth are never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

By the time division has set in and resistance creates a standoff, spiritual trench warfare has begun.  Both sides believe — even “know” — without an overstated doubt that they are right.  Shakespeare’s observation of “Me thinketh he protesteth too much” is right on the mark, but will not slow down any of the protesting melodrama.  Seething in their indignation, they remain in their trench awaiting the apology which is simply not coming, since that is exactly the errant quandary of the enemy across the battle field grounds.  Bored and restless waiting for an apology, attacks are soon launched with great fervor.

As devoted disciples of Joseph Goebbels technique of the Big Lie they proceed with spirited hostility. Whether or not accusations are true are fairly inconsequential.  This is cursed ground for any logical mediator.  If truth happens in this stage it is probably just a coincident.  It’s purely optional for enraged and desperate antagonists. They proceed through the mine fields with faulty righteous notions that they are without guilt and done nothing wrong, the accusations are lies so therefore what have to fear?  So noble, so sincere and so bold, although they are all heading down a dismal road of mutual destruction!

Good hearted leaders have great travail accepting our imperfect world.  Plenty of life will simply not fit any logical and seemingly correct order.  The tragic truth is this, let me give it to you straight and hard, you do not have to do anything wrong to be the target of conflict escalation.  Sometimes you need only be strong and visible.  Sometimes you are under fire because you have done too many things very well with a sizable measure of success and it has now drawn the ire and envy of others less capable of the task.  It’s wrong and unjust and it surely grieves God’s heart, but life in our fallen world will bear awful consequences for the genuinely righteous.  Recall Jesus teaching and warning, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:10).

Should we really be quite so surprised when such persecution actually happens?  Did you think Jesus was bluffing?  It’s all part of the life processes of discipleship.  Faithful obedience to Christ’s call will culminate in more than simple annoyance, it will sometimes cost you very real harm.  As Paul confirms it, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).  That Paul introduces this point with “in fact” braces us for the undesired consequence for a noble task.  The same holds true in Jesus’ teaching about casting pearls before pigs, watch out because they will “they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).

_____                    _____

The Psychology of Displaced Anger 

Rage from a lifetime may erupt

(section in process — by Dr. Lucas Morgan)

_____              _____

S. O. S.

Issue: when to go public with the conflict

Antagonists are skilled in covert activity.  Their best work is done in the shadows away from objective evaluation that could inhibit their ego-driven agenda.  The story is all too common of a well-intentioned pastor keeping the struggle to themselves not wanting to threaten the good unity of their church, only to find that the vast majority had no idea such a terrorist campaign was being waged.  But by then it’s too late for them to come to their pastor’s rescue and the pastor is so burned out from the conflict and exhausted of all emotional stamina to continue their appreciated ministry to the majority.  The battle has been too much for them to bear alone and now when the surprised, broader fellowship is stirred to arise to their Pastor’s defense and saving the Pastor with assurance of surviving this hidden storm the pastor can do no more than leave as quietly as possible.

As Ann Darrow cries “No! I said no! That’s all there is. There isn’t anymore” (“King Kong,” 2005).

Sometimes this quiet exit is done with resentment that the cavalry failed to rescue them and appreciate their sacrificial performance in holding the tide against this evil onslaught.  As unbelievable as it may seem to the pastor, the people simply did not know.  They were too busy with their jobs and family duties.  Church often slips into a Sunday morning only obligation for many of our parishioners and although the struggle has been intense for us, they were accidentally sheltered from its pain.

They may have noticed suspicious events and heard peculiar comments, but without the consensus of the rest of the church, they let it go.  Perhaps they misread something.  “Surely” such behavior is not a t paly in their church of peace and fellowship.  Their personal experience does not translate such negative behavior.  Without the confirmation of others, they will not find the initiative to intervene.  They perceive too much risk in possibly overstepping their bounds.  It’s all too surreal to suppose such wicked behavior is at play.

Such surprise marks every major calamity.  People resist hard news as long as possible, even into pure deluded fantasies.  When Hitler invaded Poland and then France launching World War 2, many were still clinging to the futile hope of Chamberlin’s appeasement that Hitler really sought peace, even though the Panzers are rolling through allied cities.

Accepting the turmoil of the world at war is too much too bear.  Have we not learned the lessons just a few decades previous?  The unthinkable will prevail for a while, until the fantasy fails the reality.  Avoidance is always the first human response to terrible confrontation.  People will do whatever it takes to avoid harsh reality.  It’s only when the reality overwhelms the delusion that they will act.  But it’s a desperate struggle.

Another reason for a congregation’s failed rescue is that the pastor has been so distracted by the conflict that the normal operations of the church, especially volunteer participation has been left on automatic pilot for the past months.  Since nothing new was brought to the people and no cultivation of vision has been exercised they have been “off the hook” to serve.  For them, this season of hidden conflict has actually made things easier with lessened demands of their time and energy.  The church has been on easy cruise control with the lazy same old same old.  What has been pure hell for the Pastor has been low demands for the distracted church.  For the minister it has been primarily a desperate matter of “just survive.”

So how long should a pastor and/or leadership keep it a secret?  The answer is typically much, much sooner than when they actually do make it all known.  The longer the delay, the greater the damage.  By the time the truth is released it may be too late.  The Board that assumed they were protecting the peace of the fellowship will discover the fellowship has interpreted this as a betrayal of trust.  A backlash is likely on its way for the Board that practiced such deceit.

St. Paul had no problem exposing the harm he received from antagonists.  In plain, recorded view for all to see, Paul spills the truth on Alexander the metalworker who “did me a great deal of harm” (2 Timothy 4:14f.).  Imagine Alexander’s dismay to have his legacy preserved in the Bible as “Jerk par Excellence?”  Diotrephes is another exposed fraud of the early church (3 John)

Jesus instructs us to expose the conflict as soon as personal enquiry and Mediation has failed to resolve the situation, “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church” (Matthew 18:17).  He does not allow a delay in this step even though it requires courage on our part to risk the fallout.

One must bear in mind that delaying the exposure is putting off what is in reality the inevitable, as well as enabling the evil behavior.  Keeping the conflict secret merely supports the dark strategy of the antagonists.  You do the church no favor to appease the hostile antagonists and defeat your own ability for effective ministry.  As disappointing as it may be, they will not build you a memorial for sacred martyrdom.  They only resent your lack of trust in their ability and desire to “of course” help their rational pastor against the jerky antagonists.

We hold in this pseudo bravado for various reason, both rational and irrational.  Some of the more common efforts of the heart are:

  • We suppose we can handle it. We are the shepherd leader; why must the sheep come over the hillside to rescue the shepherd.
  • We avoid the embarrassment of this situation slipping beyond our expertise.
  • We hold on for just a little longer for some resolution to work itself out.
  • The conflict has worn down our own reasoning and we have lost the ability to mentally work through our need for help.
  • Pride, that we can do it ourselves
  • Insecurity that perhaps we will look weak
  • Fear of looking petty to “tattle” on the miscreants
  • Ignorance of just exactly how to go about making it known to the church
  • Doubt of whether anyone will believe us
  • Guilt that perhaps some of the accusations hold a kernel of truth, given enough time an obsessed antagonist will eventually find something to latch onto.  Like a quarterback in the pocket, don’t give them too much time to reach their goal.

This last point is especially problematic when we factor in exhaustion.  Functional IQ has dropped to terrible lows and thinking is seriously thwarted.  Any reminder of weakness becomes magnified and an irrational infection of guilt strikes and further demoralizes any hope of overcoming the strife.  Once toxic guilt pollutes our heart one can develop psychotic slips to turn the anger inward and displace the harm into ourselves.  We become a ready, although subconscious, ally to the miscreants against ourselves.

Darkness is not only the favored atmosphere for evil behavior it is the only means of operation it can exist.  Evil thrives on deception.  That is the whole substance of intimidation, not that one has been physically injured, but that one might possibly be injured.  The fear of the unknown wreaks havoc upon anyone and paralyzes them.  The venom of deception pains any and every process toward positive objectives.  Its nefarious chaos must be released upon any unsuspecting victim stepping too close to its talons.

“You only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power — he’s free again.”                  ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The prospects of resolution through mediation and negotiation decrease as the intensity of the dispute increases.  The onset of pride will resist positive intervention and cast doubt upon any efforts to validate any point on their side.  They are clearly and absolutely wrong; there can be no benefit from their perspective.  The locked in dispute can only intensify and escalate, unconsciously evolving into blind rage.  The inevitability of consequences has not appeared on their radar screen.  They only want immediate gratification of their sense of wounded pride and unappreciated efforts.

Whistle-blowers and their Fate

Besides their mothers, does anyone appreciate and love the ones who expose the shortcomings of others?  Back in grade school we called them snitches or tattle tales and they never received much of a fair shake for their grief.  Like the Old Testament prophets they will likely pay for flowing against the flow of culture.  Their appreciation will not arrive until after the changes have already been incorporated and a new system is in place.  Just like the prophets of old, the recognition normally does not arrive in their lifetime (Matthew 23:29-30).

Although Hollywood finds a great plot line with characters like Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich,” reality is not quite so kind.  Any system that has compromised itself with dysfunctional Groupthink will not and actually cannot tolerate the one who steps out of line to expose a contrary problem.  The system is operating by wishful thinking and objective reality no longer matters to them.

Hans Christian Anderson tells a story about a stifled tailor searching for the very best wardrobe for the emperor, but instead conjures up this scheme of invisible clothing and then puts on the high marketing pressure that surely everyone “sees” how beautiful the new fashion looks on the emperor, who is the one who holds high power over your very life.  What else can the people do but to go along with the ruse, until a little boy in the crowd speaks the truth.  The little boy represents the common sense of justice in its most innocent form of objective reality.  He has not yet learned the “grown-up” ways of compromising truth for the sake of avoiding uncomfortable consequences.  He merely speaks raw and naïve reality, “the emperor is not wearing any clothes.

So why would anyone ever wish to walk the dangerous path of exposing a dysfunctional system?  Where does that desire come from?  How could they choose a path that will cause so much harm and virtually no appreciation for their hardship?  What could possibly stir a heart to such self-destruction?

The simple answer for such motivation is a desire for justice.  It’s a deep passion felt by few, but for those who catch this compulsion it runs deep in their very soul.  They are driven by the belief that truth and even reality must prevail.  For proof of this human compulsion, next time you are in a sizable crowd of people, do something really awkward and downright stupid and see how much derision results.  Our nature does not like things to be out of order.  Once something falls out of order, many people will not rest well until reality returns to order.

Isaiah the prophet repeatedly preaches two basic themes for national renewal throughout the Old Testament book attributed to him; Righteousness and Justice.  Be clear in your own mind about cleaning up your own life and also be clear to do the right things for the sake of your community.   Isaiah lays it down as only a prophet could.  If you want to be pleasing to God then here you are.  This is what it takes.  No sugar coating comes with that antidote; just do it or else!

But he is not calloused in his assessment.  Righteousness and Justice are not that hard and if we find enough courage we discover these are attributes that we already realize.  God has created this within the very fabric of our DNA.  When we are true to ourselves these are the very categories/characteristics we use to determine our authenticity.  When one embraces an honest quest to honor Plato’s assertion of “To thyself be true,” they are compelled to not rest until justice is functional again. It’s not really a choice of alternative possibilities.  The “Whistle-blower must speak up.  They have little choice in the matter.  Once they experience themselves as God has designed them to be, the matter becomes greater than self-willed preferences.  They cannot sleep at night for their dreams torture their pretenses in nightmares of a fake life.  A God-inspired life cannot co-exist with a life motivated by deception.  They must abide in truth, for that is the way of Christ, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  Their conscience compels them to speak up for the sake of godly truth and reality.

A marked nature of satan’s presence is found any time distortion is asserted in place of truth.  Jesus clarifies the point about satan that he is a deceiver, a distorter of reality.  Everything about him is a pretense of reality.  The only group Jesus could not tolerate were the religious people who verified themselves as hypocrites in  Jesus eyes (see Matthew 23 for Jesus’ all too real feelings about people who act out their righteousness). John 8:44 surely posits a harsh light on the pretenders since satan is “… the father of lies.”  Lies are the offspring of his meddling into human affairs.

Once a potential “Whistle-blower” has a taste of such a just and right reality, the experience transforms them into convicted souls for truth.  The option of choice no longer matters.  It’s not so much that they may want to expose a dysfunctional and possibly corrupt system, they have to expose it.  God’s Spirit will not allow them peace and rest until they respond to the conviction divinely instilled within them.

 

When to Expose a Problem

In a healthy, functional church the answer is very basic.  First, talk with the person who is generating the annoyance, disagreement or outright conflict.  Clarify the perceptions.  Sometimes, by God’s grace, things can quickly resolve itself by initiating the communication.  However, sometimes you need to take a second step which is to seek the counsel of a third party to clarify and mediate the situation.  Sadly, even these steps do not work out and you must proceed to a painful step of opening up the situation and making the problem public knowledge before the differences spread out of control.

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector”   (Matthew 18:15-17).

The fellowship will want to ignore any problems and especially signs of unpleasant confrontation.  Even after the situation is out in the open a drive will be felt to get this “problem” back into some closet and out of sight.

But the situation can hold peril.  Unfortunately, healthy functional churches are not as prevalent as we wish.  And if you are encountering problems then here is your sign that the fellowship has issues, being the human institution it inevitably is.   Your reluctance may be evidence of other issues in the church’s past and current power make-up.  You are wise to proceed with caution.  Whistle blowers, like prophets, are seldom appreciated for the disturbances they cause, absolute threats to the accustomed and carefully groomed “Comfort Zones.”  A wrong step here may be your downfall.  That does not mean cower back and become their puppet, but weigh the value of this situation.  Is it worth it?  Remember, you do not have to die on every mountain.  As William James notes,

James Wisdom Overlook

An idealized opportunism leads us to respect truth as the foundation of all human interactions.  Is truth not to be considered synonymous with reality?  And Jesus expresses dire warnings of falsehood by comparing to satanic activity,

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

Apparently, not everyone got the notice on this.  Lying becomes a very convenient friend in time of trouble.

In a perfect world truth is held in highest regard as the standard of reality itself, but have you not noticed that our world continually falls short of such opportunities?  This is one of the gateways to maturity of ministry.  Truth is not always held in highest esteem compared to other community values.  Several things will quickly trump the impact of truth.

1) Longevity Trump Truth.  If you are new to this community and lack a few generations of grounding, this will be a cruel fate.  Billy Bob has been here all his life, as well as his daddy and granddaddy and before all that.  How dare you raise an accusation contrary to such a long standing right of established estate.  And how long have you been here? When it’s your word against Billy Bob’s the deck gets stacked really quick.  Even if you have pictures, videos, recorded messages and an abundance of witnesses, there will still be a significant segment predisposed to defend the known entity rounding out their predictable ways.

2) Tribe Trumps Truth.  Never overlook the natural relations in this church.  Family ties will carry great weight in determining decisions about truth.  They may know someone is guilty, but none-the-less, they still have to deal with this person for holiday dinners.  Allegiance to family ties brings great pressure to actions.  Ministers come and go, but Billy Bob will be staying and they must deal with future situations. Despite truth, some may not want to bear the discomfort of family gatherings nor risk the subtle understanding of “traitor.”  Those hurt feelings will carry through a few generations.

Mike Stalls shares a terrible example of one ministry in which a deacon was actually making forward and unwanted advances toward his wife.  He would arrive home in the evening to find this deacon in his home and his wife at an uncomfortable loss of how to turn him away.  The comments were easy to misconstrue.  It was all very inappropriate.  However, when Mike tried to share this with his Executive Board (key leaders of the church), the situation quickly turned against him.  He was told this deacon’s father had been a devoted member for many years.  An uncle and aunt were also very involved and with significant financial support to the church.

The writing was on the wall, they were not about to do anything.  When Mike shared this with Elders he thought sure would support him, accusations arose against Mike, with comments like, “Why would Mike want to tell lies about deacon _____?”  The situation only worsened as news spread.  Once deacon _____ found out, instead of dealing with his guild it was all counter accusations and isn’t it time Rev. Mike find ministry elsewhere.  Truth and reality counted for absolutely nothing when family ties were considered.  Don’t think a church will always side with justice, not when their personal relationships are at risk.  It’s a tough challenge to someday forgive.  These people talk the talk, but when a dire situation arises, they walk the easier path against even truth.

3) Laziness Trumps Truth.  Your first reports will likely be met with resistance determined to put this off for as long as possible.  Maybe they will wear you down or you will see the situation just isn’t worth such bother.  Some Board Chairs may already have a count-down to the end of duties.  Delay this for a few more months and it’s someone else’s problem.

4) Fear Trumps Truth.  OK, so maybe your point is valid, but what are these people to do about it?  High School does not offer much by way of conflict resolution and only that particular “major” will have acquired skills about the next steps.  Even if those steps should be no more than calling in a mediator or middle judicatory, if that sort of experience is not present a dreaded insecurity will prevail.  For the predominant church member, conflict was always stuffed under the rug ASAP.  They will struggle to balance the problem with obligations of worship and maintaining their church’s reputation in the community.

5) Status Quo Trumps Truth.  Communities naturally want to keep their fellowship wholesome and nurturing.  Introducing disagreement and conflict will run contrary to all these natural inclinations.  It will be very unnatural for most people.  That sort of path repulses even the hopeful mediators.

Just because you are right is seldom enough.  It’s a sad reality, but true especially in a dysfunctional system.  If the group is allowing a problem to abide, likely you are not encountering an entirely new issue, then they are in a state of some degree of denial and that is treacherous place to be.  They will practice appeasement beyond decent considerations.

Onlookers will try to work force an equal guilt situation, so that neither is totally wrong.  Each has made some mistakes, so “let’s admit we are all human, shake hands and let by-gones be by-gones, now where is that sacred closet for hiding uncomfortable situations?”

We all love champions of truth, but brace yourself for some disappointments.  Even if a resolution is rendered, it will likely never satisfy the real issues.  Appeasement will taint every effort.  And even if due justice is rendered it may be so explosive that relocation will be considered before you wanted it to be.  Weigh carefully the benefits of such battle.  A strong ministry with healthy tasks of Pastoral Care may be the shaming agent that puts offenders into future restraints.  Although you may never see the eventual justice served.

“But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”    (Numbers 32:23)

 

Beware the Backlash

Human nature compels a comfort mechanism of avoidance of whatever might cause discomfort.  The human heart has a reflex  of rationalizing “down” whatever violates its comfort.  If the Pastor tries to speak up of wrong doing the favored response is something along the lines of “Well, I guess the Pastor and Doug just don’t get along.”  Even if Doug is doing all the slander and dissension comfortable people will seek a conclusion of the matter being someone else’s problem.  In this case, the problem has to do with a short-coming of the Pastor.  In their deeper heart they may know the real situation, but their quest for lazy comfort will block the truth from disturbing their crafted ease.

If the antagonist should have symptoms and leanings toward sociopathy all the more will people cling to illusion for comfort.  The harsher this reality so also will the harsher response arise to compensate and cover the difficulty of this challenge.

You must especially beware the Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s their deepest rage to be rebuffed after they have constructed a fantasy relationship with the fantasy surroundings of a Pastor, only to assume they have been rebuffed. Swift and entirely overblown vindication overwhelms their soul.  Night and day they will plot their revenge to what they feel as a rejection of who they are.  As quickly affection arises within them, so does hostility.  Those that accept you much too quickly may eventually be your greatest antagonist.

Let’s face it, in our deepest heart of hearts we are all narcissists.  We filter all our experiences though our own experiences.  A sensible, although absolutely shallow, solution will derive from a rational assessment that they ought to be satisfied now because it would satisfy me.  How naïve, but how true.  The sociopath is never satisfied.  What satisfies a normal heart will only energize a crippled soul of a sociopath.  Like a hungry shark tasting blood in the water they have merely been alerted to better prey somewhere nearby.  Despite their otherwise intentions, such reasoning only serves to empower sociopaths.  People with “other” objectives must be continually be held in check.  Like Michael Corleone counsels in the Godfather movie,

Corleone friends enemies

 

Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

The art of being wise

is the art of knowing what to overlook.

William James

 

“When people become desperate, rules and civility – even credulity – becomes highly negotiable.”                           — Phillip Travers

The Seeds of Escalation: Resentment

The actual building blocks of escalation are found in the by-products, sometimes very small, of gains and losses.  When disagreements are explored and mediation sought care must be sought to assure all the sides feel a sense of control in the differences, compromises, concessions, and negotiated bartering.  Although the final diving lines may seem unequal and even quite disjointed, as long as all sides have a say in how the outcome is achieved peace has every right to prevail.  Everyone has what they want and their needs and desires are respected and upheld.  Such outcomes can be achieved.  A skilled Mediator knows what to look for and especially to assure everyone is able to preserve a sense of dignity and as the sage assertion has it they can “save face.”

However, when agreed upon solutions are not attained and one side wins out by overbearing intimidation or manipulation the worst of all community viruses sets in and the unity is undermined.  For where control is denied one side, even the perception thereof, the dire risk of resentment besets the group.   As William James clarifies, “Belief creates the actual fact.”  If one would protect a community’s welfare, resentment is the required target to seek and quarantine ASAP.  Diffuse the power of resentment, get it up on the surface and do not let it submerge, and the substance of conflict will lose its fuel to escalate.  It simply won’t have the gumption.

James Belief Act

Resentment has power because it produces harm.  Hitting with a club or fist may inflict pain and damage to one’s physical well-being, so resentment fuels a pain much deeper and deadlier to the soul.  It penetrates a vulnerable and confusing place within away from sight and insulated from normal store bought ointments.  Once seeds of resentment are planted in the heart they are a longtime coming in their removal.  They are not flowery plants, but weeds of the worst ugliness and they endure repeated efforts of removal.  Once resentment finds the vulnerable surface of a soul it digs in fast and stretches its roots.  You won’t find expulsion an easy nor quick exercise.

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”                — Hebrews 12:15

 

The greater danger of this unseen toxin is that burial in the dark nether regions of the soul will cause it to fester and grow.  In fact, the festering soil is where the resentment becomes empowered and develops its own sense of destiny apart from natural intentions of the mind.  Bury a soul-ish hurt and it will eventually return in a monstrous evolution that will spread a more lethal harm that what was previously imagined.  If you allow someone to walk away with such a resentment planted in their soul know this that you will eventually suffer more dangerous consequences than what was originally on the table in the first place.

A particular challenge upon a “nice” community is that resentment is treated as an ugly stain upon the soul tantamount to the devastation of leprosy.  Consequently one must be careful to keep their resentment a secret or risk exposure and ostracism.  Sure the expulsion probably won’t result in a physical booting out, but all those looks and opinions will work in the same way.

Consequently, one must be careful to never reveal such inner sin.  They hide it from their friends and even hide it from themselves as much as possible.  Repression begins a terrible work of covering the stains, but it will exhaust the soul, because repression demands much internal energy to maintain the charade.  In time exhaustion sets in and relief is essential.  Either the drive for authenticity will override the inhibitions of what others may think or else other psychic breakdowns will derail the self.  Nothing good will result in prolonged and unattended repression.

William James Attitude

 

Reason and Passion

“I find all sorts of People agree, whatsoever were their Animosities, when humbled by the Approaches of Death: Then they forgive, then they pray for, and love one another: Which shews us, that it is not our Reason, but our Passion, that makes and holds up the Feuds that reign among men in their Health and Fulness. They, therefore, that live nearest to that which they should die, must certainly live best.”

William Penn

“Some Fruits of Solitude in Reflections and Maxims”

Part 1, “Religion,” #550

 

Hurt People Hurt People

When someone carries their pain they are ready to share it with whoever crosses their path the wrong way.  The displaced anger is wholly alive and charged and ready to be unleashed upon anyone.  Their inner wounds will drive them for relief which they believe require unwary scapegoats stumbling about them.  Many believe that bullies were born from being bullied themselves.

What motivates their pain?  Why do they carry it and how did it all get started?  Had they suffered a personal wound they might keep it within themselves for healing, but the sort of wound that unleashed itself upon others for relief is the sort of pain that is seeking its home.  For such inner pain has been inflicted and even accidentally nurtured within community.   It’s only natural that such wounded-ness would seek relief or vindication within the community, sometimes within the same community that inflicted the pain.

Some will sadly resort to pity from the community and even in themselves.  Rather than exert the discipline to work at personal dis-ease, they find a way to benefit from it, through self-pity.  It’s a sickness in its own plight, but the astute Pastor will recognize the dysfunctional community reaping the imagined warm acts of saving kindness.  It soothes the troubled – and guilty – soul.

The heart of the problem is simply and succinctly a question of value.  This antagonist is simply returning what they have received.  This church or business has not valued their inherent nature and discounted their participation.  The result is a feeling of banishment and social death; but worse, it may desire vindication.

Being marginalized carries a terrible pain.  Perhaps they have deserved the punishment, but if it has not been clarified in their own mind and heart the sense of undeserved retribution will reside within their wounded soul.  They hurt and they believe their pain is underserved.  They are ready, even driven toward justified revenge.  A leader must be ever vigilant that whenever someone might feel left out to the fringes, there are consequences which must be paid.

On the surface the reactive behavior of such wounded people will seem so trivial and will frustrate our sense of reason.  The jabs will look so childish, but underneath it all lays the horrible pain of rejection.  A slap or a fist might be easier for them to take than this deep seated pain to their soul.  The anger is real and it is usually displaced, and normally quite misunderstood.

Their pain has drained them of the courage to face their dis-ease.  The activating event may be long pass, but the hurt will compel them toward the relief of satisfaction.  If they cannot exact revenge upon the original inflictors of their hurt, then anyone else conveniently within shot will suffice.

This is a typical scenario of resentful people hating church, religion and ministers.  God is not to be found for retribution, so his servants will suffice and his outposts will do.  Considering the failure of Lucifer in Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” it will be much safer than all-out assault of heaven itself.

The only drive that affects them the most is their pain and that pain infuriates them the longer is left unsettled.  It demands a terrible price.  So awful are the effects that exacting it upon others is not a problem.  Someone must somehow pay for this.  They are too frail, weak and frightened to accept personal responsibility for this travail.  The psyche has activated its targeting system and only cares to find a suitable scape-goat.

“The healthy man does not torture others — generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.”   — Carl G. Jung

Will They do it Again?

Various considerations will emerge after some sort of resolution.  Churches that are afflicted with being too “nice” will likely fail miserably in confronting antagonists, preferring to take the easy way to accommodate and appease every ultimatum.  Some may reason that since they had gained so many victories, surely they will be satisfied now; and on and on goes this tired delusion.

Sadly, hard core antagonists will actually be invigorated.  Just as Hitler seizing the Balkans preceding WW II, they also will feel like the game has just begun.  They will not only be open to the prospects of more conflict, they will eagerly seek more easy conquests.  The experience has taught them that it works and the victory can actually feel intoxicating.  They will crave that adrenaline high again like an addiction.

Rev. Bruce Stalls overheard at a battle weary church, after the pastor had been dismissed to utter humiliation, the chief trouble-maker, an obvious sociopath, loudly proclaim, “Now we’re getting somewhere.”  For this demented antagonist, the death of the Pastor’s career was stimulating him to further trouble.  Power was intoxicating his senses.  And how did the church board respond?  They bent to his every threat.  Their legacy was cemented as pure cowards.

For others, if the wounds have been inflicted deeply enough others will at least hesitate in efforts of avoiding further hostilities.  Conflict is absolutely void of any nurturing elements, leaving participants exhausted and burdened with spiritual wounds to their own soul.  Those we consider normal will bear their inner scares and fear being exposed to any further scars. Their collective conscience has already been seared.  The urge to flee is likely squelched as well. They have come this far through the spiritual muck, investing time, energy and reputation, they will have to see it through.  Somehow they search in full futility to rationalize some sort of convoluted alibi so they can just try to sleep at night and carry on I this community.

If any sociopaths have survived the war, all is lost!  The intoxicating affects have become a virtual addiction.  They are not only open to the possibility, and not only eager for it, they will actively seek it out and create it.  They will come to believe that they need it.  Life has become much too flat since it all ended.  Sound sick?  Then on behalf of the rest civilized humanity, let me just say “thank you!”  You do not suffer the disorder, so you may not even be able to comprehend its macabre effects upon a community.  As M.S. Peck describes them in his book, People of the Lie; a Psychology of Human Evil, they are the virtual incarnation of evil.  They live to promote harm and injustice.

A Christianity Today poll, conducted in 1996, churches that have absorbed themselves into conflict are 62% likely to do it again.  Yes, that is absolutely pathetic!  But it still does not rule out this reality of human nature.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn expresses this reality in ‘One word of truth,’ his Nobel address, “The Line.”

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart.”

Solzhenitsyn presents a terrifying portrait of human nature that none of us are exempt from the powers of evil.  Do not suppose resuming harmful conflict is reserved for the terrible people in the world that have infiltrated the church.  The harmful effects of sin exist in all of us.  The ability to fracture the holy nature of Christ’s church and people is evident in all of us.  The evil is not ‘out there,’ the possibility exists within the heart of each of us.  If you must cast judgment then prepare to start with yourself.  Given the right circumstances any of us are capable of the devastation.

And the conflict will not start over new infractions of implicit rules, but will resume whatever may be unresolved in previous bouts.  According to specialist Speed Leas, whenever a group “resumes” conflict they seldom return to initial stages of conflict as though an objective reality were at play.  The repressed anger in the group will pick it up right where they left off.  If they made it to a high level of hostility, they will re-launch the conflict at that same point.

The likelihood of resumed conflict depends on how recent and fresh the experience is in the minds of the people.  Given 5 – 10 years, everything of resuming the grudges applies.  They are ready to even then scores and satisfying wounded egos.  Anything beyond 10-15 years helps, but does not rule out devastating prospects.  Until the generation before you passes on the mantle of control of the church the potential of conflict breaking out again is probably.  The spiritual climax of such a post-hostile church is so very frail.  The slightest infraction or even imagined offense may infuriate the rage once again.  Such a church needed a qualified exorcist may refuse mediation, but what they really need is an experienced exorcist to purge these demonic urges from their facilities.

This generation has learned unfortunate lessons that they can actually survive the devastation. What to others is still held as sacred they have long violated and the taboo is non-existent.  As Paul Tillich has stated, once an icon is broken, it stays broken.  You cannot repair and restore it to its original luster.  The same applies to those participating in church conflict.  Crossing boundaries of propriety no longer apply.  They have tasted the fruits and have learned they can survive.

It has been an age old problem, those who cause harm to Christ’s Church. As far back as the second century, Ignatius describes these trouble-makers with stark reality,

“For some are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practice things unworthy of God, whom ye must flee as ye would wild beasts. For they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom ye must be on your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured.”
– Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, VII.1

 

Subjugating Extremists

~ Margaret Thatcher

“I hate extremes of any kind. Communism and the National Front both seek the domination of the state over the individual. They both, I believe crush the right of the individual. To me, therefore, they are parties of a similar kind. All my life I have stood against banning Communism or other extremist organisations because, if you do that, they go underground and it gives them an excitement that they don’t get if they are allowed to pursue their policies openly. We’ll beat them into the ground on argument . . ..”

“The National Front is a Socialist Front”

Interview for Hornsey Journal  (21 April, 1978)

 

Why Stay?

What ego issues are you pushing?

After all the demeaning and disparaging comments thrown at you, and possibly your family, how much more can you take?  What source of internal motivation are you tapping to hold on?  The question is serious and earnest.  How we answer such a question of counsel urges a deep introspection to discern inferior motives of what ministry deserves.  Our reasons may be pure, but they may hold seeds of resentment and vindication.

Some will stay to continue the war.  They have suffered some harm and spiritual wounds which they feel warrants revenge, or the urge of righteous indignation hurls them on into the bleak warfare of self-justification, to redeem a wounded ego.  Is that a valid excuse to continue the fight?

The call of righteousness is urgent in this quest to carefully not violate our estate in spiritual accountability.  Revenge for its own sake is never justified, regardless of the inner harm and offense we may feel.  “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord” (Deut  32:35), it’s just not our business to deprive God of what belongs to him.  If we are staying simply to “even the score” then our motives have become depraved.  The task of endurance has become unworthy and skewered into a poor excuse and imitation of Old Testament vindication.  Our foundational purpose has become corrupted by ego defenses of indignation and the assurance of God’s provision in our crusade is compromised.

However, may I proceed into difficult/painful territory of how prolonging the fight may be justified?  When evil people have their way can any good ever survive?  On behalf of all who have suffered under the bloody hands of the sociopaths reeking their destruction upon Christ’s church I applaud your endurance to engage the fight and not retreat before necessity beckons its resolve.  Too long has evil agendas prevailed where they do not belong.

If your fight is righteous it will likely not be understood except by the discerning who have traveled that painful road.  The spoiled majority who have sought safety and security will abandon you.  The understanding support you may receive is either still injured from their own battles or simply do not know what you face.  Unless you can get the battle into the light how can they know?  Seek counsel and support before you proceed any further.  Elijah’s counsel is yours too – “the journey is too much for you” (1 Kings 19:6).  Proceeding on your own, you may likely win “some” battles, but our fallen humanness will not allow flawless engagement of evil.  And those battles we lose will not entitle a preservation of our soul.  Our enemy is ruthless.  They need only one victory to devastate your soul.   You may win ten battles, but one loss may open the door to devastate your soul.  Recovery may be only an illusion, and then what will God’s kingdom benefit?

Antagonists Disqualified

Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.
Proverbs 17:13

So how does God feel about these people who have caused so much harm and destruction?  The victims are quick to assign them new places of hell itself, delighting in the excursions of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Our inner pain desires their walk in anguish, just as we have suffered by their selfish obsession of Power and control.

Jesus has clarified it that out of the heart come all sorts of evil things (Matthew 15:18-19).  Solzhenitsyn’s “line” crosses right through me, too.  The hurt cuts deep and leaves wounds in such vulnerable hard to reach places.  Healing does not come easy and complete healing will likely never happen for wounds deep in the soul.  Some of the scars and pain will abide for a lifetime.

And yet perhaps the scars can yield direction as Harry Potter’s lightning bolt on his forehead which he received from he-who-must-not-be-named.  The discerning heart will learn from the experiences and find motivation to intervene in other tragedies waiting because they recognize the signs and know what awaits other gullible saints.

God turns bad situations around and produces better situations (Romans 8:28).  Given time and opportunity he will not forsake the afflicted.  Like Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12), they will learn from their experiences and become the resources of intervention conflicted churches are desperate to receive.

If you are a victim, reclaim your heart.  God needs you.  Others suffer the pain you have felt and some feel even worse.  How can you remain silent when you already know the pain?  You are marked, but you are probably desperately needed.  Perhaps you will not find retribution upon your own tormentors, but aiding the pain of compatriots you will find satisfaction in knowing that you have made your effort to stop the evil and uphold God’s justice.

Aslan’s prophecy is yours

“Wrong will be right,
when Aslan comes in sight.
At the sound of his roar,
Sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth,
Winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane,
We shall have spring again.”

— C. S. Lewis
“The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”

David Denied the Holy

David was a remarkable model of faith and relationship with God, but not as an idealized fantasy beyond normal human capacity.  We learn just as many life lessons from his failures as we do his successes.  His faith was bold and exciting and yet this same godly figure is marred by incredible scandal; deceit, adultery, murder, betrayal, framing loyal military servants with blame, the list goes on.  And yet God forgives him all these things.  His contrite heart opens passages back to God’s favor.  Grace triumphs through the story of his life.

However, toward the end his behavior is not excused.  The violence of his career finally disqualifies from a deep desire of heart.  True, God forgives him of all the despicable acts of his selfish lifestyle, but this final and noble desire is refused.  The culmination of violence prevents his ambitions.

After his kingdom is settled and enough peace has emerged, David wants to express his appreciation by building a great Temple for God.  It all sounds so right and righteous; even the court prophet Nathan is swept away in the expression of loving gratitude.  However, God must stir Nathan back to reality that for all its noble intentions, it violates God’s heart.  “Who would build a house for me?”  “When did I ever express discontent for my lodgings,” God decrees.  Although a good heart within David plans a noble quest, it falls short of acceptance.  The problem: David himself!

Solomon, David’s son explains the problem that
17 “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. 19 Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood—he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’”            (1 Kings 8:17-19)

David finally realizes and accepts the problem that his past actions have deprived him this desire of heart.  Surely disappointment besieged him, but it still did not change God’s decree.  We can hear some heartbreak in David’s acknowledgement and we can sympathize with him, but his past seals his fate.

6 Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. 7 David said to Solomon: ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God.’ 8 But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight’
(1 Chronicles 22:6-8).

The example of David’s failure to accomplish this good quest strikes a hard lesson upon antagonists who have also shed much “blood” in what they presume to be God’s name.  Although they can be forgiven and restored to gracious friendship with God, still the consequences of what they have done will abide, casting a dark specter on their desires, despite how noble they may be.

Once an antagonist has shown their poor behavior a certain fate has also been coordinated that they shall never be allowed to some spiritual ambitions.  As though their sins had crosses the line of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which Jesus deems as the great unforgivable sin Mark 3:29, they also bear the curse of their sin.  Although repentance to salvation is always available to them, other quests may not.  As David was denied the success of building God’s Temple, so they also may resign themselves to future disqualifications of God’s service.  The spiritual “blood on their hands” will never be washed off.  Once they have inflicted destruction to God’s kingdom they will always bear a mark of consequence.

Jesus words are sure,
“If anyone cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better if they had a mill stone hung around their neck and drowned in the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

 

When They Leave

Disgruntled people perform many unusual acts to express their discontent with the ways things are.  Anger spewed on the church is in reality, usually a symptom of anger at life in general.  They are not simply angry at church, they bring their anger with them.  The rage is already there before they even open the door to come in on Sunday morning.

Granted, the motive for attending church worship ought to be focused on God and his people, not their selfish, narrow sense of despair and hate.  Biblical accounts usually follow such trivializing of holy ground all the way to an early grave.  In the midst of frustration and fear, many a Pastor may ponders why God delays such actions today.  It would certainly resolve the tensions and bring the church back on track in its mission, but alas such mystery remains with our Lord.  We may only ponder until reality beckons us back to the challenges at hand.

If the disgruntled antagonist does not get their way and the masses do not rally to them as they fantasize they will eventually take that step to in which they imagine the whole church will shudder and consider closing their doors, leaving.  In their mind they have just dropped the big one.  For everyone else such a move often results in a huge corporate sigh of relief.

Rev. Philip Travers relates a case in which a big trouble maker finally did the unthinkable and declared with great hostility they are quitting the church.  This parishioner simply could not tolerate the new minister any longer and was leaving.  Rev. Travers knew it was the big bluff of the year, but no one rallied to stop this person.  In fact. The spirit of worship the following Sunday morning was rather . . . peaceful and … [dare I say] . . . relaxed.  People did not have to walk on egg shells as they usually felt when at the church.  They had been freed of that tyranny.

The following week, one of the departed antagonists supposed friends stopped by to visit with Rev. Travers.  He invited the woman into his office and thought, “oh, boy here we go.”  But he was quite surprised when this woman started by saying, “it’s quite a relief to you and the church now that _____ is gone, isn’t it?”

Rev. Travers did a mind stutter.  Was he hearing this right, or was it some sort of trap? He figured he better keep his guard up until he found out which.  She continued to reflect the tension and hardship _____ had caused people while she was here, making it hard for people.  It was true, this woman was glad the antagonist was gone and wanted to express that she was not really all that close to her, but was in fact rather intimidated by her caustic rumor mongering.  She feared she would be next if she dared to confront the poor behavior.

What Rev. Travers thought was a formidable coalition within the church was nothing more than one person keeping others in line by intimidation.  Malicious rumors is a fearful weapon once one discovers truth is of little consequence.  It only took one mean-spirited, hard-hearted woman to hold an entire congregation hostage by her intimidation of rumor spin.  Fear is all it takes to exert significant Power & Control.  It’s a common game of deception, which any good terrorist knows how to wield.

So, sometimes when they leave it is good and wonderful.  The church is free to grow again.  People once afraid to participate now joyfully rise up to take on the vacant gaps left behind.  Usually the budget is spared a drastic drop as the antagonist had suggested would happen, because mean spirited people are mostly bluff.  The loudest malcontents are usually the worst givers to a church.  Be cautious to not bank on this always happening, sometimes those loud mouths are upset because they feel their big donations are not achieving what they intended.  But be assured that good people who give from sincere hearts carry behavior that is equally kind and supportive.  It’s the loud, squeaky wheels who carry little care for anything other than their petty self.

Ask any restaurant server, or other people industry workers.  The best tippers are typically the nice customers, the ones who would bus their own table if you let them and then help with other tables needing attention.  The low maintenance and soft spoken will tip 15% – 20%.  But when the loud, belligerent sensations enter the store, watch for the experienced servers seeking ways to deflect them to the newer and less aware workers.  Those are the ones who will stiff the servers for the slightest even imagined oversight, and shift into high maintenance.  They demand 4-5 times the attention of anyone else and at tip time . . . mere coins are the common fare.  Belligerent people are that way wherever they go, not just at church.

When that pew full of grumpy old antagonists spend the entire sermon glaring at you, don’t take it personal they are most likely that way wherever they go.  Church is one place to spew their hate upon the world among anywhere else they may go.  Sad but all too true, some people are very bitter about life.  As Erik Erikson points out in the final life stage, if they fail there the rest of life is marked by dark despair and regrets over foiled dreams and hopes for life.  They simply cannot rise above their prison of gloom.

But what about those who leave in vocal disgust and then like a bad dream . . . they come back?  So what is that about?  Ministers in troubled churches will experience those grumpy members announcing their leaving multiple times.  Mr. and Mrs. Bad Attitude will leave four and perhaps five times and even more if they can figure out a way to do that.  The power surge they feel is just too much to resist not trying it as many more times as they can get away with it.  An emotionally stable person, on the other hand, would be much too humiliated to return after they have made their dramatic exit, but this has little to do with the way emotionally stable people behave.  It’s the latent adolescents who cause this trouble.

The reason they return is because their climactic drama of hostility failed to achieve what they intended.  Sociopaths are quickly recognized for their inability to grasp consequences, melodramatic antagonists are quite similar (if not in fact sociopaths themselves).  Mr. and Mrs. Bad Attitude acted according to their own narcissistic expectations that surely everyone would feel their rage.  When they leave and no one calls to ask them to come back … this simply will not do.  Those people must not have understood the “real truth” of their indignation.  So they reappear, stating they may forgive what the Pastor and give it one more try.  But one foot is always ready to step out the door again in the attempt to correct whatever misfire happened before.  This next time will surely work.

The other side of this is that once they have left, they realize they never figured what their next step might be.  “Now what?” is the typical response they face the next Sunday when their usual ritual has been interrupted.  If they attend another church, rumors will now work against them as word gets around about their bad attitude.  People in the new church will figure out quickly to be on guard of these known trouble makers.  Their story of misunderstood crusader will never satisfy the skeptical minds of this new group, of which by the way – they are now the outsiders.  Seeking to disrupt the unity and fellowship of their own church, they now find themselves reaping the fruit of their own contentious divisiveness.  Only now they hold virtually no power in their new surroundings.  Their plight will likely never satisfy their angry discontent, for wherever they go they have to take themselves and that is the very heart of their problem – their own contentious bitterness.

After they leave, be sure they leave.  Do not let them remain in your mind so that you find yourself fighting the painful memories.  Without realizing it, every idle moment draws you back into the conflict, trying to justify your every position and every motive.  But the reality is that no one is here!  You are fighting an empty battle, but it still drains you none the less.  Heed the wisdom of this Latin proverb,

Non pugnant manibus

“Stop fighting ghosts”

 

Tyrants and Bullies are never satisfied

Plato Tyrant leader

 

Giving Room for God

Deuteronomy 32:35-36

35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.

36 The LORD will vindicate his people and relent concerning his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free.”

Give them enough rope to hang themselves, and the malicious arrogant will do so.

At God’s behest.  They are reaping their own wages of pride.

 

Interlude to Escalation

Although the wounded pride will want to escalate the hostility the human sense of decency may not know how to proceed.  A hesitation of conscience will actually trip up and hinder their intentions.  They will likely not know how to cast the first blow.  The point is reminiscent of the start of the Civil War, when although both sides had established their differences as irreconcilable, it was not until the cannon valleys were launched on Fort Sumter (April 12-13, 1861) in South Carolina there lingered a time of not knowing just how to fight.  The situation was awkward, but surely a skilled statesman could have surely intervened in the conflict and called them back to sanity.  Unfortunately, it would not have been until “after” the cannon balls were launched before both sides realized that they/we are no longing bluffing.  If only cannon balls had recall of self-destruct options, it may have all been avoided.

In a church setting the sides may experience hurt and anger, but may stand at a loss about what to do next.  The actual remedy itself will drift away and pure anger will become the agenda.  Pride is reigning and rational thought is being quickly compromised.  The moment is so fleeting, but an alert mediator will see it when both sides will appeal to the laziness of their human nature to delay stepping into all out fighting.  The moment for damage control is ripe, but unfortunately the antagonists may go for the quick fix of firing the minister and assuming that the problem is settled.  But without reason they have only chosen to prolong their pain and cultivate new grudges.  The differences will now accelerate beyond their suppositions.

Recognizing the Signs

Your best clues to situations of conflict preparing to escalate into greater realms lies within the language the fighters use.  Pay attention to the generalizations.  Pay great attention to how they express their perspective on a given situation.  Trust this theorem that the more generalized their expressions the more hostility they are ready to bear.  General sweeping statement of anger reflect nothing more than frustration of not understanding the issues at hand nor even wanting to understand the differences.  When someone swipes a broad path of hostility they seek no more than the satisfaction of their irritated soul seeking its own will.

When they preface their outbursts with such words as “always,” “never” and “everyone;” watch out!  They are not looking for solutions, only mass harm intimidating all parties to submit to their lust for control.   Broad statements already carry the implication that no solutions are within sight, nor even desired.  Resolving a difference has no bearing on emotional sweeps of discontent and rage.  When antagonists broaden their references to such unrealistic parameters they are not interested in any solutions or negotiation.  They only want their will to be done as though God himself hath spoken.

Take hope for the disenchanted who keep their expressions to specific parameters.  Specific language reflects a mind at work to consciously seek out viable solutions.  When someone catches their own sweeping generalizations you are in a situation that has not yet deteriorated into total mayhem.  Specific evaluations expose a mind that is still connected to a reasonable objective.  Whoever maintains such objectivity is your best friend and hope for resolution.

The rule is reliable: the more specific the statements the more hope for resolution.  If nothing precise is stated any more then it may time to abandon hope and bail out for safety before the all out “take no prisoners” devastation arrives.

 

 

An error is the more dangerous in proportion to the degree of truth which it contains.

— Henri Frederic Amiel 

 

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted;

the indifference of those who should have known better;

the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most;

that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

          — Haile Selassie

 

_____     _____     _____

Unresolved hostility only gets worse.  It does not suddenly go away.  Wish as we may, tomorrow this situation is only going to be worse as people wear themselves down with rage.  Displaced anger will seep into the hurt minds.  Offenses from all their lives will subjectively begin to displace into eruption.

The anger is not just about you, it’s now about high school bullies, exploited relationships, abandoned parental needs, work promotion snubs, etc., etc.!  You are now facing pain from years of abuse and failure.  Objective issues are barely recalled by the time hostility begins to rule what was once a place of relief and comfort,

 

Cf Esc Danish steps

 

. . .

 

 

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

(Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, March 1985)
“Songs from the Big Chair,” Tears for Fears

Welcome to your life There’s no turning back Even while we sleep We will find you Acting on your best behavior Turn your back on mother nature Everybody wants to rule the world
It’s my own design It’s my own remorse Help me to decide Help me make the most
Of freedom and of pleasure Nothing ever lasts forever Everybody wants to rule the world
There’s a room where the light won’t find you Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down When they do I’ll be right behind you
So glad we’ve almost made it So sad they had to fade it Everybody wants to rule the world
I cant stand this indecision Married with a lack of vision Everybody wants to rule the world Say that you’ll never never, never, never need it One headline why believe it ? Everybody wants to rule the world
All for freedom and for pleasure Nothing ever lasts forever Everybody wants to rule the world

 

 

 

 

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