So I have come to realize (and it has only taken me like, 35 years,) but I have come to realize that you simply cannot debate, reason, chat, or fellowship in an intimate way with anyone who believes you are malevolent.
Malevolent, it means, “having or showing a wish to do evil to others.”
The accusation of malevolence can be very subtle, obscure, or hidden, but it sounds something like this, “people who want to end this quarantine are selfish!” Or, “people who support this president hate their brothers and sisters!”
I have learned over and over and over again if you disrespect me and attempt to dismiss me as evil, my job is to just walk away. I’m not very good at. Hope always rears it’s ugly head. I often want to find common ground. Sometimes I just want to defend myself against the onslaught.
Let me reaffirm and restate that quite clearly, when you accuse people of being selfish, racist, haters, ignorant, greedy, devoid of compassion, or un-Christian, you are accusing them of malevolence. You are dismissing them as evil. No gaslighting allowed here, because I actually did not just fall off the turnip truck and whack my head. Usually a statement will be made like the one above, “people who want to end this quarantine are selfish,” promptly followed by complete denial of motivation and intent. “I’m not accusing you of malevolence. Why would you even think that?”
Because it is objectively true. Also, I’m laughing here, but there’s a special place in hell for people who make me call on objective reality and defend the concept…..
It is a declaration of evil, an accusation of malevolence. Selfishness is evil. You aren’t attempting to edify a discussion, shine a light on a matter, or share some wisdom. You aren’t seeking knowledge. You aren’t seeking fellowship and common ground. You are attempting to dismiss what you do not understand, to label it evil and therefore unworthy, so you can affirm your own moral superiority and dismiss any evidence to the contrary.
A friend of mine used to call that, “mental masturbation.” He used to say, “that’s fine, just do it in private, will you?” A graphic and lewd description, but quite apt, I’m telling you.
It’s been a really good lesson, because I have learned to question my own motivations in the process. Like, what do you need? Why are you looking to other people to meet those needs instead of Jesus? Or perhaps, why do you allow people to disrespect and dismiss you and then stick around for more of it?
I hope you can see there is a lack of judgement, a lack of condemnation, behind those questions of mine. They are not questions that have “yes” or “no” answers, right or wrongs. They are questions that simply invite one to look a bit deeper at what is going on beneath the surface.
I totally lost my cool with this dude on Twitter the other day. I’ve spent a few years trying to dodge his poisonous darts, trying to turn the other cheek, trying to understand where he is coming from. I should have walked away long ago. It’s a habit of mine, not necessarily a bad thing, but I am often driven to try to understand where people are coming from. There must be an explanation here, we’re both looking at the same thing, so what am I not seeing?
What I am not seeing that when people accuse you of malevolence, no matter how subtle or hidden the accusation is, the conversation is over before it even began.