Always Keep in Mind that this Blog is Intended to Bring About
While it may sometimes seem that examples and language style used in our articles is insensitive, sometimes harsh, it is not the words that count but the meaning behind them. Language is used for communication. Style is used to grab attention. True facts are important for establishing credibility. And readers are essential for mobilization, realization, and implementation of the change.
If I’ve learned anything from my professional experience it’s that most people really and sincerly want the best for themselves, their loved ones, and for their community. Very few, and we know pretty much who they are, are self-serving, insensitive, and indifferent to the common good. We’ve identified many of those maladjusted souls on this blog and we intend to continue that work.
But this article is for the rest of our readers, the innocent who are constantly getting disappointed. Please keep in mind that no one likes to be told they’re wrong in so many blunt words. No one likes to be told that they’re making stupid choices. No one likes to be told that they are investing their emotional capital in losing enterprises. In other words, no one likes to get their noses rubbed in their own crappola.
But we also have to avoid becoming grateful to or sympathetic of our oppressors. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as the Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding. It’s a psychological phenomenon in which the oppressed [hostages, victims] express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors or oppressors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk experienced by the oppressed person, the victim or the hostage, who essentially misinterpret a lack of abuse from their oppressors for an act of kindness. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of this so-called Stockholm syndrome.
Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim thinks he or she believes or shares the same values as the oppressor/aggressor, they no longer become a threat; they’re no longer a hostage, no longer a victim. They become one of their oppressors! Or so they rationalize.
We can see in our own community, in the RCS and in the New Baltimore community how his has happened. Just think about it for a minute.
We will bring most people to our side if we gently nudge them rather than pushing them. They’ll listen more readily and willingly if we hear what they say and engage them in alternative dialogue, by mirroring what they say with what we hear them saying, inviting that all-important dialogue to take place. We’ll earn their trust and confidence if we first acknowledge that we all have a common objective: the good of the community. We just think we know how to achieve it but many times we may be heading down the wrong street.
What I’d like to see our crusaders do is go gently. Be a good listener. Be well informed and offer alternatives not outright criticism or opposition. Good listening to is what many of our neighbors need; not criticism or opposition. Once our neighbors realize someone is listening to what they have to say, they’ll be ready to listen, too. This blog is living proof of that statement: we hear what people have to say, listen to what they mean, and read their communications empathetically. Then we respond.
In ethics we have big words to describe the personal dignity that each person has and their sense of being an individual, their own right to personhood. We teach that people should not do for people what they can do for themselves–this is called the principle of subsidiarity. We also teach the principle of doing no harm and that no evil (= bad) act should be the means to even a good result. Keeping those few ethical principles in mind can take us a long way to positive outcomes in this community.
While I don’t want to get too intellectual at this point, I would like to share with our readers something that St Thomas Aquinas had to say about “rational” creatures: First, the rational creature naturally moves toward the ultimate Good. St Thomas goes on to say that “Man is made in the image of God in so far as men and women are patterned after God through intellectuality, freedom of will, and self-determination.” Humankind, you and I and our neighbors, are in His image, in so far as through our free will we are the main cause of our own works. In other words, we have been created with intelligence and freedom of will, and we should use that intelligence for making the best (=good) choices because we are the cause of the results and we bear the responsibility. Key to responsibility is the response part, we have to respond for what we do.
While it’s true some people among us misuse and abuse those gifts of intelligence and free will, the rest of us can do our best to use our gifts wisely and, perhaps, with charity and perseverence, bring them back to the Good.
I’d like to remind you also, that you can make a big difference by talking about what you read on this blog, by sharing its content with relatives and friends by sending an email link to the blog, by commenting on what you read, by distributing a printout or two of your favorite blog articles to people who may not be fortunate to have a computer or, if they do, don’t really know how to use it. I’ll do the research and the writing, you do the distribution. Now that’s a deal you shouldn’t refuse.