This is not an exercise in futility. It is a clarion call for self-assessment, honest expression, and relational responsibility. It is intended for those who have found themselves in arguments laden with negative energy.
There is no point to argument other than to prove a point. The act of proving a point is a controlling process. It requires organization, the belief in law and order, and an agreement to respect the sovereignty of truth. Once a point has been made, it cannot be unmade, for a point, like energy, can neither be created nor destroyed, only acknowledged or ignored. Ultimately, a point is not an opinion but an irrefutable fact. That is why it is called a “point.”
Some people argue hypothetical points, which aren’t points at all, but conjectures of imagination. Such arguments are exercises in futility, especially because the hypothetical point has no static definition and thus presents no opportunity for agreement but for two parties acknowledging a point and misnaming it hypothetical.
In contravention to the argument is the conversation. Conversation is the exchange of ideas. Conversation is useful in sharing points of view. One cannot argue a point of view, for it is impossible for any party to stand in the life of another. A point of view is sovereign territory.
In sharing one’s point of view, one will naturally encourage disagreement from another party who does not and cannot see the same point of view. If person B says, “I see where you are coming from,” responding to the shared point of view of person A, this is a convention of relationship that communicates more accurately that there is some experience drawn upon which allows person B to connect in a way that makes person A’s point of view understandable or believable. A mouthful, I know.
Point of view impacts every type of reaction possible. Lack of consideration for different points of view is generally called, “having on blinders.” To act with blinders on is to act in a vacuum, while the consequences for every action affect a larger environment. This imbalance of consideration is irresponsible as it does not allow for one to be accountable for the effects of one’s actions.
With blinders on, a person can, with a clear conscience, make a choice based on a singular point of view which negatively impacts other points of view. When confronted with the relationship between their choice and its consequences, the person will resist taking responsibility for their actions, seeking amnesty in their being unaware.
How can one be responsible for that which s/he is unaware of?
If one understands the concept of cause and effect, then one must also understand that every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. If one accepts this, then one must accept responsibility for one’s actions whether or not they consider the consequences.
If the counter point of view is considered – that choices have no consequences, actions have no equal and opposite reactions, that there is no such thing as cause and effect, this would support the idea that ignorance is bliss. Persons embracing this paradigm becomes easily offended when any attempt is made to educate them about relationships, thus burdening them with responsibility and accountability they would rather be free of.
It is explains why you, the reader, is a fool to argue with a person who has already made up their mind not to accept responsibility for their actions, acts in a way that demonstrates that they do not have to answer to anyone for their actions, and ultimately does not respect or value other points of view.
What causes a person to embrace such a paradigm? Interestingly enough, the answer is fear.
When confronted with the proposition that a person is afraid of something, that person, especially one embracing the ignorance is bliss paradigm, will assert that they aren’t afraid of anything relevant to this exposition. That fact is that until a person can acknowledge an issue, they cannot begin to deal with it. One may argue that if a person isn’t aware of an issue, then an issue does not exist. This is like closing your eyes to dismiss the fact that there is something right in front of you.
One may further argue that because the so-called issue does not affect one personally, it isn’t in fact an issue. Contrary to popular belief, if a thing has been brought to your attention, it exists, whether you accept it for what it is or not. It is the same principle supporting the assertion that just because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist; or for the more secular, just because you don’t believe in politics doesn’t mean that politics don’t affect you.
The fear spoken of earlier is a fear of loss – the loss of identity. Identity is a strange thing. Many believe that knowledge of self is a given – that it is impossible for a person not to know him or herself, especially a person who has realized any modicum of success. The fact is that the self is extremely malleable and given to suggestion. An example would be a person demonstrating characteristic traits associated with a certain zodiac sign. How much of such behavior and personality is self-fulfilling prophecy. A person is, after all, what a person believes; at least from one perspective.
Take the simple story of a baby eagle raised with chickens. The eagle of course grows up believing it is a chicken, until a person comes along and, seeing this perversion of nature, endeavors to teach the eagle that it is an eagle. The story ends well, but it is, after all, only a story. But this story serves to prove a point. How many of us are who we are because of what has been told to us, presented to us, and made available to us? How could we have possibly defined ourselves based on something outside our realm of experience? Can we change once correct information is presented to us? Will we want to?
The answer to that last question takes into account that fear I spoke of earlier. When a person has to divest him or herself of all that is familiar, for which a person enjoys a sense of “ownership,” and has to put into proper perspective those beliefs they previously held to be true and now are persuaded by evidence that they are not – how far gone is too far gone? Starting over from scratch can be a devastating experience. Finding a way to incorporate new information into old beliefs can be mind-boggling and psychologically uncomfortable. Such was the dilemma of the children of Israel on their way to the Promised Land, and of the slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation. Freedom is not cheap. It comes with a hefty price: humility and responsibility.
There are several components to a person’s identity. We are seldom who we think we are. Oftentimes we fail to appreciate that we are not only the sum total of our choices, but that our identity is also influenced by the choices of others. Where would a student be without a teacher, and vice-versa? Sometimes we get tired of being students. Sometimes we get tired of lessons. Sometimes we don’t want to be taught anymore. Sometimes we want to be comfortable in what we know.
Socrates once said the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 3:5 teaches us to trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:12; Mark 4:9
“Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding,
Who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not:
Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,
By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?
And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.
But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart;
They have revolted and departed.
They do not say in their heart,
“Let us now fear the Lord our God….” Jeremiah 5:21-24
“God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear….” Romans 11:8
God’s command: Go, speak to those who will not hear (contrary to today’s formula for successful leadership)
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’
Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’
And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
‘Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears….
Then I [Isaiah] said, ‘Lord, how long?’
And He answered: ‘Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate…” Isaiah 6:8-11
But the people preferred false prophets with more positive messages
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you…
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the Lord.
They continually say to those who despise Me,
‘The Lord has said, ‘You shall have peace’;
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say,
‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ” Jeremiah 23:16-17
“To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear?
Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed.
Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it.
Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord. I am weary of holding it in.
“I will pour it out on the children outside, and on the assembly of young men together;
For even the husband shall be taken with the wife…
And their houses shall be turned over to others, fields and wives together;
For I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land,” says the Lord.
“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely.
They have also pealed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them, they shall be cast down.” Jeremiah 6:9-15
Resisting the (unpopular & offensive) truth
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers…” Acts 7:51-53
“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:57- 60
“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. ” Zechariah 7:11-12
“Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you.
Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing
That you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,”
Says the Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:19
“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me.
They are silly children, and they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the sold paths, where the good way is, and walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’
Therefore hear, you nations,” Jeremiah 6:16-18
“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 12:2
Everyone will deceive his neighbor,
And will not speak the truth;
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They weary themselves to commit iniquity.
Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit;
Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:5
“But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?” Mark 8:17-18
But God always had a remnant of faithful ones who loved the truth
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-5
“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness…
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.” Isaiah 32:1-3
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:5-6
Jesus said to them, “…it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given…. I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Matthew 13:11-17
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Matthew 11:4-6
“So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.
“Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. ” Nehemiah 8:2-6
Sometimes, stating things simply is the best way to be understood. Yet there are those who, in their impatience, will still miss the point for trying to figure it out before it is made, calling upon that experience which makes it necessary for the explanation in the first place. In this way they hear without hearing.
In such circumstances it should be considered that no matter the effort put forth, a square peg cannot fit into a round hole. Identifying such figurative shapes would at first glance seem to be an easy exercise. Too often, however, miscommunication suggests that such skills are not applied if not underdeveloped.
People say things. People say things to be heard. If they didn’t want to be heard, they wouldn’t speak. Even when there is apparently no one around to hear what they say, people speak to be heard… by someone or something. People want to be heard so that they can be acknowledged, and acknowledged so that they do not feel alone. People do not generally like being alone. People need something to do and someone to do it with or to. People who deny this are in denial, for in their denial they want to be heard…
People take things personally. Some people don’t want to talk to people who say things because they take them personally. Sometimes they are meant to be taken personally. Sometimes the things which are spoken are personal. Some people don’t enjoy speaking about things that are personal. That would require them to get personal, and getting personal reveals one’s vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities only exist outside of the Lord. In the Lord one has no vulnerabilities, for one’s weakness has become strength for the glorification of God.
Let this be a warning to those who would do that which is good. Seek not to be personable because it makes your way easier. We are not called to make friends with the world but rather to wage war against it. Never forget or underestimate your enemies. Love them, but do not mistake them for friends, or you shall become like them and take upon yourself their ways, and their punishment.
People say things… but I don’t always know why. In the movie Amistaad, Cinque said, “What kind of a land is this where you almost mean what you say?” Friday was a good day for promises. Sunday was a good day for letters. Monday is a good day for reflection.