Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cutting through the Wrong Messenger to Believe the Right Message

One of the most difficult things in life is to believe someone I find odious. Someone said that even a broken clock is right twice a day. It's tough but true. When I was in college and a dormitory supervisor, one of the bad boys of the dorm, who was ultimately expelled, caught me in a rules violation. I had to admit it to his smiling face. He had broken dozens and dozens and he didn't even care about the regulations. But what was the right thing to do? But admit it. I think you get what I mean.

Sometimes we have to cut through the messenger to catch the meaning. Growing up, a lot of sermons were that way. They weren't well communicated, but I was going to be spending the next hour in that room listening to that man, so the right thing to do was to get the most out of it.

There is a right way for you to be told, especially if you are a little older. I'm reaching that deeper end of the pool. I'm 49. I like being talked to with respect by 20 somethings, even 30 somethings. I like it said a certain way, especially when I'm talking to them with respect. But that's not often the way it goes today.

Do you get what I am saying? I don't want to say that someone is right who is communicating it in such an offensive way. They are using a bullhorn. It might be a woman, who has perfected her imitation of a dripping faucet. Women, know this. Men don't like to hear it from you. And especially if you say it in that certain way that every man knows. Think Michelle Bachmann here.

I've had it happen that while someone is telling the truth, he adds to that truth some lies about me. He wants to make his point, so he bold face lies about me. He says something like, "You just want to have all the children of the world suffer and die and that's why you won't believe me," or "You like Adolph Hitler and that's why you won't say 'yes' to what I'm telling you," or "You're involved in the cover-up." I hate that last one the worst, even worse than the Hitler one. Perhaps it's more subtle and insidious and so it strikes me worse, like hitting the edges of the metal around writer's cramp in the table game Operation. My game buzzes loudly. Everything that isn't the lies about me are still true. I don't want to believe those truths because they are sandwiched with lies.

The internet is renowned for this. You have someone who likes to mouth off, but he or she likes to use a pseudonym, to come at you anonymously. And they are bold. They are brutal. They attempt to humiliate. Maybe they are even confronting the subject of humiliation and they are attempting to humiliate you into taking their position against humiliation. Opposing humiliation is still the correct position, but it is difficult to believe out of the mouth of a certain messenger. And when you admit he's right, he gives you no credit. He dances all over you and then belches.

However, a more mature person can cut through the odor, the stench, and believe what someone is saying. Sometimes it is coming from a truly hurting person, someone who has been legitimately harmed, and hasn't been trained well in how to scream. He's been screamed at. He has been cajoled and badgered. He doesn't even know he's doing the very thing that he hated hearing himself. But what he's saying is true.

The truth is still the truth, even if it is coming from a screeching, scratchy broken instrument. I really do wish that people like that would state their point in a respectful way. I wish they would calm down. I wish that even if they do it in a horrible way, that after doing it that way, they would apologize for how disrespectful they were. It would make me feel better. But it is still the truth.

Watergate was still Watergate. I didn't like hearing it from the people who were telling the news. I wanted to reject it because they were the ones saying it. But it was still Watergate. It was still a break in. It was still violation of the law.

I don't like the Miami Hurricanes, strutting out of their locker room, pounding their chest to win anything. But if at the end of the game, you look up at the scoreboard, and they had more points, they still win the game. And really, when you hear the truth, it isn't about losing the game. The truth is still the truth. In the long run, the truth is precious. It may come from a 4 year old girl or a 57 year old homeless man. But it is the truth.

You really do have to take one thing at a time. Start with believing the truth. And then later, the way it was communicated, you might be able to get to that. But you've got to start by deciding truthfulness. You might not like the one who is saying it. But is it the truth? If it's the truth, you can give in to it. You don't have to accept the messenger. You don't have to take their whole world view. You just have to believe what's true.

I might tell Mr. Odious 100 truths and he disbelieves them all. He won't believe any of the truths presented to him. He might be bitter, unforgiving, and even a worse violator than the one he is impeaching. But if he's telling the truth, it is still the truth.

1 comment:

d4v34x said...

Painfully true.