The Dictatorship of Sentimentality

As soon as the writer says, “I’m so very sad…I am heartbroken” we’re supposed to reach for the Kleenex and put our arm around her and ask if she’s okay. Have you noticed how the word “sad” is usually used as a mask for “I’m really pissed off!”? It’s a self righteous ploy to blackmail you into feeling first sympathetic and then guilty that you have inflicted such pain on this poor soul.

This sentimental “sadness” is used all the time as a smokescreen for anger. You can tell because as soon as you’re thrown off kilter by the sentimentalism, the gloves come off and the true rage that was beneath the surface kicks in. See how the writer shifts from feeling “sad and heartbroken” to name calling and an ad hominem attack? The other people are “smug torturers who enjoy inflicting pain on their neighbor as they sip their lemonade.”

This passive/aggressive tactic of the sentimentalists is classic. They use it all the time. First it’s “I’m the victim. I’m persecuted. You have to feel sorry for me. You have to support me.” then if you don’t jump to and give them what they want the tack shifts and its “You wait and see, you hate filled bigot! We’ll get you! We’ll bring you down! You have no rights here!–and that’s mild. Usually the ignorant rage is spitting with blasphemies, profanities and filth.

This is the Dictatorship of Sentimentalism. It is used by the propaganda masters all the time. It is used by ordinary people all the time, and like all Dictatorships, what is most evil about it is that it is unpredictable. You can never tell if the attack will be one of sweet victimhood or irrational rage. Like all true evil, there is something chaotic and absurd about it–there is something dark and menacing–like a mercurial and cunning villain, the Dictator of Sentimentalism will be sweetness and light one moment and murderous rage the next.

The Christian Way is to rise above it all with honesty, clarity, compassion and the Light of Truth. We should be compassionate and understanding to all. We must weep with those who are truly bereaved and grieved. We expect persecution but never whine or complain about it.  When justice demands anger, we must be angry yet not sin. We must speak clearly and truly to all, having open minds and open hearts–being willing to listen and love–but also not allowing ourselves to be dominated and controlled by the tyrant of sentimentalism.