This book title is a paranoid myth

Or, in the language Joe Carter used in First Things, this book title is a disreputable, “meaningless neologism” that is “never used outside liberal blogs and websites.”

As I discussed in the previous few posts, my main history with the dominionists has been with the ultra-Calvinists of the “theonomist” or “reconstructionist”  branches of dominion theology. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve learned more about the Pentecostal branch of C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation.

Before that, I knew of Wagner only through his work as a “church growth” guru. I was not a fan. I couldn’t get past his enthusiasm for what he calls the “homogenous unit principle” for church planting, church growth and evangelism in general.

And yes, that’s just what it sounds like. But it’s not about segregation for segregation’s sake — it’s all about making people more comfortable so they don’t have to worry about crossing racial, ethnic, linguistic or class barriers to come to Jesus.

I admit that I have a hard time summarizing the idea without a bit of snark seeping through, so here’s a good discussion of the idea from a sympathetic perspective. Here’s Tim Chester’s thoughtful discussion of how this idea is difficult to reconcile with the gospel of reconciliation.

A couple more items on the subject:

From Talk to Action: “Quotes on Dominionism from the Apostles and Prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation.” There’s quite a bit there to underscore the point I’ve been making here that, yes, this stuff exists. But I also want to highlight this from “Apostle” Lance Wallnau, describing the “Seven Mountains Mandate” of NAR’s brand of dominion theology:

Satan has a vast hierarchy and infrastructure of influence under his control. That whole system is designed to keep you from utilizing your own advantages as a believer in Jesus. Nevertheless, if you’re playing the game right, you can win every time. But you cannot afford to be less than 100% engaged. You don’t displace a Level 10 devil with a Level 9 strategy!”

What’s really incredible about that language is that spiritual warfare-obsessed Pentecostals like Landau would never allow their kids to play Dungeons & Dragons, and he likely has no idea what he sounds like.

Warren Throckmorton posts part 3 of his series, “What dominionists would do with gays (disobedient children, sabbath breakers, etc.),” in which he examines Stephen Che Halbrook’s 2011 book God Is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.

Halbrook, who blogs at “Theonomy Resources,” is a dominionist with a master’s from Pat Robertson’s Regent University. And like his heroes — theonomists Rushdoony, North, DeMar, et. al. — Halbrook argues that homosexuality and sabbath-breaking should be capital crimes.

So if you’re gay, or not a Christian, he thinks you should be executed. For your own good as well as for the good of society.

But don’t get “paranoid,” Douglas Groothuis says, “The vast majority of those who have been influenced by certain aspects of Rushdoony’s writings emphatically reject his understanding of biblical law.”

Which makes me miss the late Graham Chapman:

First of all I’d like to apologize for the behavior of certain of my colleagues you may have seen earlier, but they are from broken homes, circus families and so on and they are in no way representative of the new modern improved British Navy. They are a small vociferous minority; and may I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the British Navy. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than we are prepared to admit, but all new ratings are warned that if they wake up in the morning and find any toothmarks at all anywhere on their bodies, they’re to tell me immediately so that I can immediately take every measure to hush the whole thing up. …


  • Madhabmatics

    You don’t need to overturn the constitution, you just need five Scalias.

  • Lori

     Whoops, sorry if it came off like I was disagreeing with you (no intention to).  

    No problem. It really didn’t seem to me that you were disagreeing with me so much as it seemed that I had been unclear. Many times things make more sense in my head than they do in my posts. 

  • JLT

    Very interesting article about Dominionsm in the US:
    Exposing religious fundamentalism in the US. The US media has been downplaying a radical Christian theology that is increasingly influential in the Republican party.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/2011948160923228.html

  • Marshall Pease

    Constantine as the Original Dominionist? Yoder vs. Leithart:. “Warfare is when you Sacrifice your enemies”….

    Diocletian’s force constituted a ‘sacred retinue,’ and Constantine would have thought of his army in the same way. Armies won by divine intervention, and the victory of an army was the victory of the army’s god” (74). In other words, there is no such thing as secular warfare or a secular army, in part because “the sacrifice of barbarians and rebels maintained Roman honor” (236). The sacrifice necessary to maintain the empire is not merely the religiopolitical sacrifice offered to a god or the emperor; it is the religiopolitical sacrifice of the enemy and the outsider offered up in the name of honor, peace, liberty, and justice. Therefore, to argue that sacrifice ceases with Constantine is to demonstrate a truncated view of what counts as sacrifice. …

    Furthermore, to think of killing as sacrifice is conceptually useful, especially when we remember Augustine’s point that the earthly city operates by sacrificing to false gods. Yoder also saw clearly the human propensity to offer up other persons as sacrifices to various causes, ideas, forces, and nations. The result, according to Yoder, is that “general labels like ‘freedom’ or ‘justice,’ ‘socialism’ or ‘capitalism,’ ‘order’ or ‘humanism’ become positive or negative values in their own right, causes to combat for or to destroy. The modern word for this is ‘ideology.’ The biblical word that fits best is probably ‘idol.’”[10]

  • Tonio

    Did anyone notice that Heinlein’s Nehemiah Scudder is first elected in 2012? Rick Perry seems to be on his way to becoming such a theocratic ruler.

  • Tonio

    Good points. The idea of bringing back a limited draft has some merit. The military we have now seems like a branch of the GOP, and in the case of the Air Force, a branch of the religious right as well.

    Having said that, when I was in my 20s I dreaded the idea of a draft, because I’ve always found all-male environments to be emotionally and physically abusive. In high school many of the other male students were convinced that I was gay.

  • Lori

     The idea of bringing back a limited draft has some merit. 

    Never happen. There are good points to be made in favor of it, but unless there’s a national emergency the requires a much larger military it’ll never pass. Americans are totally out of the habit of thinking about the draft as viable and the military isn’t thrilled by the prospect of going back to getting a bunch of crap recruits who are there because they’re forced to be. 

    The military we have now seems like a branch of the GOP, and in the case of the Air Force, a branch of the religious right as well.  

    A draft wouldn’t actually help this much, if at all. You’d get more of a mixed bag in the lowest ranks, but higher ranks would still lean at least as heavily Christianist as they do now, maybe more. Since it’s the higher ranks that make the difference in terms of tone and policy I don’t think greater diversity in short-timers at the bottom is going to benefit much. 

  • Tonio

    the military isn’t thrilled by the prospect of going back to getting a
    bunch of crap recruits who are there because they’re forced to be.

    At least one former recruiter argues that a draft would actually raise the overall quality of recruits because it would have more than enough people after weeding out the crap recruits. I don’t have the link handy, but the argument was that the military has had to lower its standards in order to have enough people, and too often these are people with almost no other opportunities.

    In any case, I don’t think it’s healthy for representative democracy to have a military that’s culturally and ideologically homogenous. I suspect that it’s just such a homogeneity that’s contributed to military dictatorships elsewhere.

  • Lori

     At least one former recruiter argues that a draft would actually raise the overall quality of recruits because it would have more than enough people after weeding out the crap recruits. I don’t have the link handy, but the argument was that the military has had to lower its standards in order to have enough people, and too often these are people with almost no other opportunities.  

    There are definitely some members of the military, past & present, who favor a return to the draft. They’re in the minority though. If it didn’t happen after 9/11 it’s not going to happen now. I don’t see any realistic way that we’re bringing back the draft unless the Chinese decide to invade (not going to happen) or the Russians decide to pick a fight (also not going to happen). 

    In any case, I don’t think it’s healthy for representative democracy to have a military that’s culturally and ideologically homogenous. I suspect that it’s just such a homogeneity that’s contributed to military dictatorships elsewhere. 

    I agree, I just don’t think that’s going to make any difference. Barring a huge change in the geopoltical climate the draft is not coming back. The only way the ideological make-up of the military is going to change is if Liberals start signing up in much greater numbers or Right Wingers stop. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In any case, I don’t think it’s healthy for representative democracy to have a military that’s culturally and ideologically homogenous. I suspect that it’s just such a homogeneity that’s contributed to military dictatorships elsewhere.

    That is indeed a concern of mine, particularly when there have been organizations with interests in seeing more of the military’s spiritual demographic shift toward particular brands of religion.  That seems like a recipe for disaster waiting to happen, especially since I cannot see Dominionists successfully taking over the government (as opposed to simply occupying positions within its existing constraints) without the support of the military.  

    Part of me wanted to join the military for precisely the reason of diversity.  The problem is, as bellicose as I sometimes want to be, I think that I would be a poor fit for it.  Not because I am unafraid to be an odd-man-out in such an institution, but because I would be likely to try and “enforce” certain standards of behavior on those I am in contact with.  It would only be a matter of time before an immediate superior makes a sexist remark that I feel is best resolved by an application of fist-to-jaw, and I would get drummed out in pretty quick order after that.  

    As for the all-male environment, I am not too worried about that.  I too got teased, people assumed I was gay in middle school because I did not display the same overt lude behavior that was expected of boy’s my age (I felt that excessive displays of such behavior were a sign that one is insecure and seeking peer reinforcement to bolster a lack of esteem.)  However, I discovered that employing a selective degree of physical force when demanding that such hostile behavior stop tended to be very effective in communicating that, no, I was not playing their little game, especially when contrasted with my usual composed state.  

    Unfortunately, school administrators tend to find a limited degree of overt force more of a problem than an unlimited amount of more subtle force.  Which is really a shame, since bullies much more often employ the later than the former, as it allows them to continue their behavior for longer with less trouble on their part.

  • Tonio

    However, I discovered that employing a selective degree of physical
    force when demanding that such hostile behavior stop tended to be very
    effective in communicating that, no, I was not playing their little
    game, especially when contrasted with my usual composed state.

    That never worked for me. A couple of times I lashed out in anger. But when my family moved, it took a few weeks for the students at the new school to treat me as badly as the ones in my old school. My mother told me I had brought it on myself. I interpreted that to mean that either I was doing something wrong or that something was wrong with me.

  • Anonymous

    Good points. The idea of bringing back a limited draft has some merit.
    The military we have now seems like a branch of the GOP, and in the case
    of the Air Force, a branch of the religious right as well.

    Having
    said that, when I was in my 20s I dreaded the idea of a draft, because
    I’ve always found all-male environments to be emotionally and physically
    abusive. In high school many of the other male students were convinced
    that I was gay.

    So have draftees be neither an all-male nor an all-straight group. Problem solved.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That never worked for me. A couple of times I lashed out in anger. But when my family moved, it took a few weeks for the students at the new school to treat me as badly as the ones in my old school. My mother told me I had brought it on myself. I interpreted that to mean that either I was doing something wrong or that something was wrong with me.

    Their goal is to torment you, to make you suffer, just so that they can demonstrate to their peers that they have the power to do so.  If you lash out in obvious anger, it just proves that they are getting to you.  On the other hand, completely ignoring them will only cause them to escalate the torment, probing the limits of what you will tolerate.  

    My policy is to tolerate what they do… but only up to a point.  While I will not escalate to match them, when their escalation crosses a certain subjective threshold I will respond swiftly with the intent of being decisive.  Often this takes the form of pretending to ignore their torments until I am close enough to the ringleader to grab them by the collar, throw them against the wall, and tell them in no uncertain terms that they will stop.  

    It works so well because they are not expecting that.  They expect someone whom they can cow, or alternatively exchange barbs with in a slow process of escalation.  When a “doormat” suddenly sweeps itself out from under the stomper and leaves them flat on their ass, it takes them by surprise and leaves them briefly dumbfounded.  They tend to back off a bit after that, as they are never quite sure what will set you off in the future.  

  • Lori

     So have draftees be neither an all-male nor an all-straight group. Problem solved.  

    Assuming that they could have a draft again at all it really couldn’t be all-male, all-straight. Equality is equality. Women and gays & lesbians fought to be able to serve and if the draft made a come back they’d be in it too. (Which is yet another reason it won’t happen unless the Red Horde is storming the beaches. IOW, never.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Assuming that they could have a draft again at all it really couldn’t be all-male, all-straight. Equality is equality. Women and gays & lesbians fought to be able to serve and if the draft made a come back they’d be in it too. (Which is yet another reason it won’t happen unless the Red Horde is storming the beaches. IOW, never.)

    I suspect that the religious right has a two-fold issue in this regard.  First of all, they love the military, those brave boys in uniform who bring the gospel of Freedom to the heathen foreign masses.   But they also consider gay people and women to be a threat to their idea of male primacy.  When you start putting women and gay men in the military, or worse, in front-line or commanding positions in the military, the religious right starts getting frightened.  

    Which as far as I am concerned is just further justification for women and gays in the military.  :)

  • Tonio

    Their goal is to torment you, to make you suffer, just so that they can
    demonstrate to their peers that they have the power to do so.

    That doesn’t make sense. They were treating me as though I had wronged them somehow, or as though they had a grudge against me. What you suggest is that I was nameless and faceless to them like an enemy soldier. That’s not right.

    By “lash out” I mean in violence. I threw punches usually when I was laughed at. Or when I got to the bus stop and three boys threw snowballs at me in unison. And there were times I felt like throwing punches, like when a trio of girls called out to me in the hallway, “Shake that ass, baby!” Unlike you, I had no deliberate strategy in mind. I was barely socializing at all with classmates before this, and by high school I was spending almost every night in my room.

  • Tonio

    By “not right,” I mean not just that their behavior was unjust, but also that their behavior violates the basic truth that people treat you well or badly based on what they think of you.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That doesn’t make sense. They were treating me as though I had wronged them somehow, or as though they had a grudge against me. What you suggest is that I was nameless and faceless to them like an enemy soldier. That’s not right.

    The thing is, humans still possess some vestigial instinct toward a “dominance ladder” type social structure, with an alpha on top, a beta below that, and so on.  Which means inevitably, they will seek somebody to be on the bottom.  They will collectively, almost unconsciously, find a person whom they can try to degrade, as it demonstrates that they are higher up the ladder than the person on the bottom.  Often, people care less about their exact position, so long as they know that they are above someone else.  Even if they do not think you have particularly wronged them on some kind of personal level, they will act like you did if that means they get to have someone below them.  

    It is not just adolescent bickering either.  We see what effect that has had on politics too, where people can me motivated to resent a social class barely below their own, just so they feel like they are not at the bottom of the barrel.  The “at least we’re better off than those people,” mentality.  As you pointed out, it is not right, and it is not just, but regardless it still is, and unfortunately we have to deal with it one way or another.  

  • Tonio

    It’s difficult for me to read your post without feeling vulnerable, like I’ve just ended up in Escape from New York and I’m the only one without a weapon. Even from my earliest days in school, I seemed to assume that if someone was being mean to me, I should just leave the person alone and he or she would leave me alone, and I remember the regular feelings of frustration when it wouldn’t work that way.

  • P J Evans

    Yes. It’s been in my mind for some years. (I could really, really, do without that kind of future.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s difficult for me to read your post without feeling vulnerable, like I’ve just ended up in Escape from New York and I’m the only one without a weapon. Even from my earliest days in school, I seemed to assume that if someone was being mean to me, I should just leave the person alone and he or she would leave me alone, and I remember the regular feelings of frustration when it wouldn’t work that way.

    I can identify, but sometimes it seems like the only way to be safe is to move through the danger to make it to the other side, like a ship turning into the wind until it passes.  The way I saw it, I was vulnerable anyway, so I might as well face the slings and arrows head-on.  For example, in high school people called me a nerd (in a derogatory, non reclaimed term kind of way) in an attempt to belittle me.  I eventually decided to meet their attack, by dressing the part, wearing a button-up shirt, necktie, and pocket protector when I went to school.  And the teasing about being a nerd… stopped.  They teased me about being a nerd because they thought it was a vulnerability of mine, something that they could attack to put me on the defensive.  When I started wearing that on my sleeve, advertising to the world, “Yes, I am a nerd and I know it!” then that ceased to be something that they saw as a vulnerability.  Obviously I did not see it as a vulnerability if I was so willing to wear it openly, and it was no longer a vector for their attacks.  

    Heh, I remember when I started going to college.  I told my therapist that, despite my increased workload, I felt a lot less stressed than I did when I was in high school.  She told me that was because I was no longer going into battle every day.

  • Tonio

    For me, college was more stressful socially, because living in a dorm meant I had no real sanctuary. The other guys in the dorm would do things that they insisted were jokes. Once I woke up to find one of them wearing my glasses, and the group freaked out when I grabbed him by the lapels in anger. Another time I was pennied in my room, and when I freed myself I slammed the door hard and shouted an obscenity, and a minute later someone poured a trash can full of water into my room. My first roommate was astounded that I wouldn’t socialize, and he was convinced that he was going to wake up with me standing over him with a knife. I didn’t have the words to tell him that I had the same feeling of vulnerability. Even in my first job, I reacted badly whenever someone made a joke at my expense, because that brought back all those feelings. The old saying “you only tease the people you like” has never been true in my case.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Tonio:

    Ugh, word on the high school fratboy attitude in university rez dorms.

    The bulk of students may be at uni because they want to learn, but for some reason the lack of supervision of 18 and 19 year olds and grouping them into communcal settings really seems to make them scale monumental heights of asinine behavior.

  • Tonio

    You seem to be arguing that they were simply being jerks. My whole point is that either I was doing something wrong or else something was wrong with me, otherwise I wouldn’t have been targeted like that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Honestly, I’m not sure it even requires that anything you do be wrong or that anything be wrong with you.

    For some reason males in the age 15 – 25 range seem to be prone to acting like sharks when it comes to being in situations where they receive high group reinforcement and little chance of permanent consequences for their behavior.

    If they smell any kind of target, they’ll zoom towards it like sharks to blood in the water. Cold comfort, unfortunately.

    It wasn’t as bad with me but I got to be the butt of some occasional low-grade LOL PRANKED @ U type behavior.

  • Tonio

    If they smell any kind of target, they’ll zoom towards it like sharks to blood in the water. Cold comfort, unfortunately.

    No comfort at all, because it still comes down to the problem being me. From what you say, there was something about me that made them see me as a target. If I had known then what I could have changed about myself, I could have avoided years of emotional pain.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s unlikely you could. The sheerest of random factors can make someone a target and not others; statistically, though it tends to be a person perceived as thin-skinned and easily riled up, and who can be “outsidered” more easily.

    The problem, ultimately, is not you. The problem is a peculiar social structure that needs to be ridden herd on more strictly than it has been in the last while.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    For some reason males in the age 15 – 25 range seem to be prone to acting like sharks when it comes to being in situations where they receive high group reinforcement and little chance of permanent consequences for their behavior.

    If they smell any kind of target, they’ll zoom towards it like sharks to blood in the water. Cold comfort, unfortunately.

    While I lived in a fairly middle class neighborhood in Seattle, I went to high school in a much more affluent town a few miles across the lake.  This required that I take a long bus commute every day, and after classes were over for the day I had a half hour wait at the bus stop just outside the exit to the school parking lot.  Many of the students from this more affluent area would leave the campus driving their new parent-bought sport utility vehicles out, and a few of them who left in big carpools would occasionally yell at me as they passed by, usually shouting comments slanderous of my heterosexuality.  

    I eventually got into the practice of writing down their license plate numbers, then reporting those numbers to the school police officer.  He would then give a call to their parents, explaining that their child could be charged for felonious harassement.  

    It gave me a sadistic pleasure to think of those kids getting a figurative whipping from their family.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Should have reported the cars stolen just for variety’s sake. ;)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Should have reported the cars stolen just for variety’s sake. ;)

  • Mark Z.

    The sheerest of random factors can make someone a target and not others; statistically, though it tends to be a person perceived as thin-skinned and easily riled up, and who can be “outsidered” more easily.

    That, and being a target is sticky. A common reason for being twitchy and easily riled up is that you’ve been bullied before and just being around unfamiliar people triggers a defensive response–which leads to more bullying, because certain assholes think the defensive response is funny. The end result of that kind of behavior is this:

    “He screamed out, ‘Allah! Allah! Allah!’ and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his god,” Specialist Jones said to investigators. “Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny.” … It became a kind of running joke, and people kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out ‘Allah,’ ” he said. “It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes.”

  • Tonio

    The
    problem, ultimately, is not you. The problem is a peculiar social
    structure that needs to be ridden herd on more strictly than it has been
    in the last while.

    Acknowledging the role of that peculiar social structure doesn’t change the fact that ultimately the problem was me. I could have avoided the emotional pain if I could have changed the way that others perceived me, making myself harder to be “outsidered.” Not in the sense of assigning blame to me or to anyone else, but to simply protect my ego from being shredded daily as it was for many years.

  • Anonymous

    The problem was never you. You might find it hard to believe that but it never is the targets’ problem.

    It was bullying, plain and simple, and all the aphorisms about bullies seeking ‘the weak or deficient’ out to target are rubbish hun. As are the common myths that ‘if you stand up and fight back you earn respect’ – usually. In the cases where that is not so, where fighting back does see them back off, you still lose, because you play the game as ‘expected’ – even if that doesn’t fit you.

    I was very bright at school – probably like many here, heh – and I had confidence and all that. People liked me, not because I exhibited any alpha-like behaviour, just … I don’t know why, maybe because I was confident without the arrogance and I knew how to listen.

    But that all changed. I was transferred to another stream, over with all the other fast-tracked clever kiddies. Intelligence is no guarantee of ‘better behaviour’ it seems. Two boys began a prolonged campaign of taunting – unrelenting.

    In some ways I was emotionally ahead of most of my peers, so I ignored it – treating them as ‘children.’ In some ways I was emotionally well behind my peers – I was effeminate and showed little interest in girls, not because I wasn’t interested, more because I was working through confusion over my gender. I couldn’t look at an interesting girl without, simultaneously, being interested IN them and interested in BEING them.

    What I couldn’t appreciate at that age, was how social exclusion deeply affects a person. Those two and few others played their childish games, but everyone else stepped back and watched.

    Was I diffferent? Yes … and that’s all it takes. But hey, difference is not intrinsically bad. It is not ‘wrong’ or something broken within you. The deficiency is in those who find that difference a problem. Always remember that.

    I started getting ‘sick’ and not going to school. I’d hit a limit and it was too much to push past at the time. My grades went from straight A’s to a scatter of marks, including a few F’s. My parents took me to a psychologist to figure out what was wrong – he concluded ‘nothing’ – infact he determined that I was an intuitive savant with an extremely high IQ (not that I think IQ is a useful measure past a certain point). Eventually school authorities determined the environement had to be at issue somehow (they never figured out why) and I moved to another school. Grades went up, I was even the senior Englush Dux, and everthing settled.

    But the effects of the years at the first school left deep marks. I went into a deeper denial; stopped questioning and ‘played the part’ the world expected of me. I went through uni, did a breif stint in the army (and hey, did I feel like a fish out of water there) and got into a long-term relationship – 11 years, including an engagement, before it collapsed, before the weight of ‘my authentic self’ became too much.

    I regret that, in that it hurt someone I loved very much. I shattered her and I can’t fix that. She fell on her feet in time and into a wonderful relationship, last I heard, so that’s good.

    So I came out and started being ‘me’ – and the strangest thing is, all the old confidence came back. Then I was gang-raped by 4 old friends who didn’t take kindly to the life I had chosen to live.

    Took a while to get over that, quite a few years – but hey, at the end I was, and am, so much stronger. I’d discovered a key, as it were: the only opinion of YOU that really matters, is yours. That isn’t to say we are not affected by the good and bad opinions of others, only that … in the end, how we treat those opinions and how we see ourselves matters much more. Nor is that an appeal to narcissism – just an apeal to being US.

    Which, for a post that is much longer than I intented, brings us to the point. Be authentic. Whatever that is, whoever you are at your core … be that completlely, entirely and never apologise for it. Especially, never question it’s worth. Don’t go looking for “what is/was wrong with me” … accept it and occupy it.

    Because the truth is, everyone is different. Most people just occupy themselves with delusions of sameness, a pretense that they are like these people and not like those people. This is usually enacted over very superficial matters.

    I get glances and smirks and looks often in public … but when these things happen I feel great – because I know the place that those ‘exclusionary actions’ come from. Knowing that, they can’t affect me. I usually smile, with my eyes and mouth, just a very gentle ‘I know, I don’t care’ – with a hint of laughter. When someone is looking at you with exclusion in their mind and you smile, sincerely, right back – it disarms them.

    In the end, know that you are, like everyone else ever born, unique and different beyond measure. We all are. Isn’t that wonderful!

    :)

    PS: it might sound somewhat daft, but it works: everyone morning, brushing teeth, whatever, stare right at that inverted self and say “I’m different. So what? Everyone else is.” and smile at your other self – it works.

    *apologies to all for the uber-wall-o-text

  • Tonio

    But hey, difference is not intrinsically bad. It is not ‘wrong’ or
    something broken within you. The deficiency is in those who find that
    difference a problem. Always remember that.

    I understand that. My point has nothing to do with what I thought of myself. Instead, it’s that being mocked or teased or bullied was a source of emotional pain, in terms of feeling afraid or unwelcome and not necessarily unworthy. My goal was to prevent people from treating me in ways that caused me to feel those things.

    Even today, if I see a group of college-age people laughing, it evokes old emotional memories of being mocked, and for a half-second I wonder if I did something that they thought was funny. It’s similar to how I’m still afraid of the deep ends of swimming pools because when I was a kid, I almost drowned in a pool from not knowing how deep it was. A good analogy is how, if one is writing on a notepad, it will leave an indentation on the sheet underneath.


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