Why Me?

by John Aquila 69 Replies latest jw experiences

  • John Aquila
    John Aquila

    You all have brought out some great points that I'm sure will benefit not just me, but others who read the comments.

    Caleb, yes I do feel like I've been in a plane crash. And and husbands, wives, grandmas, grandpa, teenagers, and infants have all died and only I have survived. It makes no sense.

    That's what happened yesterday I guess when my mom started naming all the speakers at the conventions. I was there with all these speakers giving talks at the conventions also. I have a long history with them. Several families I grew up with asked my mom how I was doing. One family even told my mom they have a few cassette tapes where they recorded some of my talks. And every once in while they play them on study night for the whole family because they are so encouraging and it helps them remain strong in the truth. (WTF)

    It can drive a person crazy.

  • done4good

    CalebInFlorida - There's still debate about it, and probably always will be, but there may be a lot more free will and less brainwashing in systems like the Watchtower than people would like to believe.

    Interesting point. I do think the very nature of cults in terms of what allows them to develop and thrive has to do with what I would call "collective cognitive dissonance". At some level, many, if not most deep down know they are not being told the truth, however chose to believe anyway for purposes that have much to do with lower level human needs such as security, (in the Maslow sense). Cognitive dissonance is the result of reality conflicting with what members choose to believe, to appease their own need for security. Replicate this 8 million times in aggregate, and create a system that only promotes its leadership from within, and it becomes more clear as to why what we perceive as "cult mind control", comes into play.


  • done4good

    Xanthippe - Sometimes I think it is the very reason that we suffered so much in the religion, because we were always questioning. You are still questioning now when you ask, why me. Those that accept things find the religion and possibly life in general easier to deal with.

    If you constantly question everything your whole life it can make life quite uncomfortable. It's easier to just go along with the crowd but you obviously can't do that. It's not about being a good person it's about thinking for yourself.

    This is also spot on, and realizing that "being a good person" had nothing to do with my ability to wake up and leave is exactly what made me an atheist in due time. It was about intellectual curiosity and self-honesty. These are higher level needs, (self-actualization in the Maslow sense), and many cannot get there until more basic needs are met first. Most people never get there, not just JWs.


  • garyneal

    "They said they joined the UN for a library card, so that's it."

    Uh huh, and my wife join the YMCA for gym membership. The point is, the WTS can get its information without having to ride the wild beast just as my wife can get a workout without associating with the harlot.

  • CalebInFloroda


    Great comments. One thing you brought out I thought I should mention.

    I often read a lot of people make use of the term "cognitive dissonance," using it in reference to Jehovah's Witnesses. In reality, most people who use that term are using it wrong.

    "Cognitive dissonance" first of all is a scientific hypothesis, used to describe mental stress which can cause emotional responses of survival. It actually has little to do with why people are in cults or ideological groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses, and it isn't universally accepted in behavioral science.

    "Cognitive dissonance" is what a good friend of mine experienced on 9/11. She is a pastor of a Protestant church, with a theology that embraces the belief that America is a "Christian" nation, under G-d. When the attacks occurred against the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, she went into a daze for several days. It isn't that she stopped doing her work as a pastor. In fact she was even more busy than normal due to many people having questions, the need to add additional services, etc.

    But my pastor friend confided in me that she was running on automatic. She had to, as the experience shook her faith to the foundations. "How could G-d allow such a thing to happen?" she said, explaining the connection between the events and why she was just "going through the motions." She believed that America was part of G-d's plan, a sort of "Promised Land" in the great scheme of things. As such America was supposed to be untouchable in her mind.

    What that pastor was going through is "cognitive dissonance." She had two conflicting states she was dealing with: the first, a strong Christian faith that saw the United States of America as a nation protected by Providence and second, the fact that the U.S. had undergone a horrific terrorist attack of such a grand scale never before seen on American soil.

    That is "cognitive dissonance," that state of two separate conflicting "truths" that the pastor was dealing with. Because she was a pastor of a church, she had to compartmentalize the mental battle and run on "automatic."

    Granted, I don't subscribe to her unique view of the U.S. in G-d's "plan," but beside that the woman was quite mainstream. She fought for equal rights for the poor, the disabled, the LGBT community, and ministered to those with HIV and AIDS. In fact she was quite sensible and logical that it surprised me to hear her tell me she had this belief and that it was causing her such a crisis of conscience. It still doesn't fit the picture of the woman I know.

    Cognitive dissonance doesn't keep a person in a state of denial either. It usually makes a person choose one path or the other, true, but often "wakes" people up. My pastor friend ditched this theological view, but still remains a faithful Christian minister to this day.

    If cognitive dissonance is as real as most believe it is (and I am one of those who feel the theory has merit), then Jehovah's Witnesses are not in this state. If they ever were, they chose the path of accepting the Watchtower brand of ideology. But it is more likely that they don't listen to anything that causes this state of stress in the first place. People cannot thrive under such stress. They shut down.

    What people may be trying to say is that some JWs are compartmentalizing when and if they have to endure a moment of cognitive dissonance. That is not healthy either, but it is putting something "on a back burner" to deal with later, so to speak. Eventually the pot will boil over and the stress will build and they will have to make a choice.

    But cognitive dissonance is not denial. It is the state that usually gets one to realize they have possibly been in denial.

  • Finkelstein

    The WTS's deep ingrained indoctrination in its teachings and doctrines were established intensionally to keep the WTS's literature proliferation continuous and on going.

    Many people today are starting to wake up that they were just vehicles of exploitation by this indulgently corrupt religious publishing house, witnesses for the Watchtower Corporation rather than witnesses or preachers of Christ's true Gospel.

    JWs have to make a dedicated solemn vow to be subservient to this publishing house and its leaders when they are baptized, which eventually avails them to become the organizations public sales representatives.

  • Illuminated

    This has crossed my mind as well, why some JW's wake up and others remain trapped. I think it goes deeper. The question of destiny/life path comes into play. Do I believe it? I'm not sure, yet I toy with the idea. Then comes, the idea of freewill and darker forces. I'm sure many of you have had the experience of being hit with ttat at one point or another, enough to push you out. I don't believe it was a coincidence. Maybe it was "God"/universe, what ever you want to call it attempting to wake you up and show you the truth by working through a vessel, be it a book, a person, or many other ways. Yet either freewill or darker forces kept you in until you were open enough to accept the message being sent.

  • done4good

    CalebInFlorida -

    Yes, completely understand cognitive dissonance is not denial. In fact, everything you state about dissonance theory is 100% correct. And yes, as in all psychology, it is a soft science, and not something all psychologists agree upon.

    My point is that cognitive dissonance is almost a given amongst the thinkers of the JWs, because reality points to a universe that works very differently from the one that JWs claim to believe in. Deep down they do know this.

    Their response to the cognitive dissonance is very much what you describe of your pastor friend. They actually dig their heels deeper to avoid the effects of the cognitive dissonance, at least for a period of time, and often that time period lasts years, if not decades. A person can only take so much of the conflict, so shutdown is a common response. The belief in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary of that belief is just another form of mental shutdown. It is only when a person is forced into the state of cognitive dissonance to such a degree that their normal shutdown mechanisms are no longer effective, that the cognitive dissonance actually forces them to wake up.


  • Magnum

    Because I see this, sometimes I question myself if perhaps I’m wrong. But then I reflect on the abuses of the organization and I’m back to square one.

    I do that, too.

    If there was a God that cared, he would pull out these good people out of the cult first. The Bible says;

    “Jehovah knows how to deliver righteous people”

    But that’s not the case is it?

    The following is assuming there is a God and the Bible is what JWs claim it to be:

    ""Jehovah knows how to deliver righteous people", but that's not the case is it?"

    Maybe it is. You assume (and I do, too, at times) that a lot of these still-in JWs are better than you. But are they really? They might be, but I kind of doubt it. I think the situation is deeper than what we observe. I think that Jah doesn't look at just some specific, obvious traits and that goodness might not be as obvious as we might think. What we perceive as goodness might be somewhat superficial. I believe that judging of goodness is not as easy as many of might us think and that Jah looks at the whole picture - the whole being.

    JWs always taught me (and I think this is their literature) that in order to have God's approval, one has to have the three "H's" - honesty, humility, & hunger.

    honesty - Are all JWs really honest? Sure, they might not cheat or steal; they might return wallets full of money that they find. But are they really honest - to the core... like us? Do they really seek truth? Are they really honest about the practices, policies, failures, shortcomings, outright wrongs, etc. of the org? We might excuse them by saying that they don't realize such or that they're blind to such or that they're sincere. But are they honest to the core if they continually go along with something that is obviously majorly flawed. At least they should sense that something is wrong, and if they're really honest, they should pursue the matter further.

    JWs always taught me that sincerity alone isn't enough - that one has to have the truth. I think that point was made in the Live Forever book among other places. JWs apply that to everybody else, but not themselves, when it should equally apply to them.

    I think of the two men of Luke chapter 18.

    Luke 18:10-14 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and began to pray these things to himself, ‘O God, I thank you I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give the tenth of all things I acquire.’ 13 But the tax collector standing at a distance was not willing even to raise his eyes heavenward, but kept beating his breast, saying, ‘O God, be gracious to me a sinner.’ 14 I tell YOU, This man went down to his home proved more righteous than that man; because everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.”

    JWs are sort of like the Pharisee. “We have the truth. We have all these great things. We have JWdotORG.. We have JWTV. We have the governing body. We have the NWT. We do all these great things. We have the preaching work. We do disaster relief…..”

    Some of us (like you, John) are like the tax collector. We beat our breasts and wonder whether we’re wrong and at least at times think others are better than we are. We question.

    Remember how JWs are. They'll see a sweet elderly lady who truly has love in her heart and is kind and just and cares about world suffering and deprives herself to use her little bit of money to help the needy, feed stray animals, etc. She questions herself and seeks answers, but because she doesn't subscribe to what JWs believe, that seven men in NY are the God-appointed guardians of doctrine, and follow their ever-changing, often illogical whims, they condemn her.

    Can’t we justifiably apply the same concept to them? Can we not condemn them, even if they are “good” in many ways, since they don’t have the truth – that is the truth that is something in wrong in JW land?

    humility – Are JWs really humble? They brag and brag and brag about their idols – the org, the GB, JWdotORG, etc. They condemn other religions and individuals. If one questions the org or the GB, he is an “apostate”, and the word “apostate” has very strong connotations in JWdom.

    I was talking with a prominent elder a few months ago, and he implied that I lack humility and that’s why I’m inactive. I said that I had very high responsibilities in JWdom and had turned down much higher ones. Doesn’t that take humility? Many JWs (definitely not all, though) are driven by attention and glory seeking. Many want titles and privilege and position and assignments and recognition. I gave up positions, assignments, etc. that many could never dream of having. I did it because I was so concerned about the decline in teaching and quality of meetings, the poor quality of JW literature, etc. I gave up my positions and assignments at first because I really wanted to have more time to try to improve the situation in JWdom. Isn’t that a sign of humility? Then, though I’ve had some doubts for many years, I really learned TTATT. I acted on what I learned; I acted on truth. Isn’t that a sign of humility?

    I think that, though it might seem on the surface that JWs are humble and we’re not, the truth is the opposite of that. Look at the JW cart-witnessing personnel and those sitting at public witnessing tables. Are they really humble? On the surface, to us, it might seem so, but what about to a higher being who can see the whole situation? Would he really see real (not just superficial) humility in such individuals? Go to JW meetings, assemblies, conventions. Does one find there an air of real humility or an air of superiority?

    hunger – Are JWs really hungry for truth? Jesus said 'Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking.' The verb tense indicates continuing action. Are JWs continuing to seek, to knock? No, they think they’ve found. They’re self-satisfied. They have the truth (even though they can’t back it up), and everybody else is wrong. They sit at their meetings gloating over the “fact” that their spiritual bellies are stuffed and everybody else is starving.

    I think we’re the ones that are hungry. JWs aren’t. Are the GB members or whoever control the org really hungry for truth or do they seek to align doctrine and policy with whatever will benefit/promote the org? Are individual JWs really hungry? No, they have at times literally stopped up theirs and made noises so they couldn’t hear the words of others who were attempting to reason with them and impart truth to them.


    Didn’t mean for this to be so long. It just came out. Bottom line: John, I think you are better than you realize.

  • exwhyzee

    Do you ever wonder why out of all the Witnesses, you are the one that woke up?

    Or go one step further, why was I the one who wound up in the religion in the first place, when millions immediately saw it for what it was and ran ?

    I wonder many times why me. I know many men and women that are much, much better persons than me; either they are much smarter, more humble, kinder, more successful, or just better persons all around.

    JW's will tell you that it was your (our) lack of humility that was your(our) downfall out of "the truth". They'll tell you that it's the good and humble ones who are still hanging in there and accepting the things they don't particularly like or understand about the religion. Sheep follow, they stay with the flock....they don't lead or go off on their own.

    They often mistake humility with lack of courage.

    No, truly I am amazed that so many more don't wake up.

    In my opinion, the JW religion serves a purpose for some people and then they outgrow it and need to move on. It's when they stick with it in order to avoid personal repercussions that happen when one leaves, is when the trouble begins. I think it's safe to say that each of the 8 million current JW's around today, personally knows or is related to at least one former JW. That being the case, there at least as many, (if not more) former JW's as there are active JW's and that's not even counting all of those who left decades ago.

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