In the real world, very few parents would disown their own children simply because they read a magazine that told them to do it. Very few people would forever completely ignore their own parents because an elder got up on a platform one day and announced that they no longer follow the same religion as you.
In the real world it just doesn't happen. And yet, for 8 million Jehovah's Witnesses it's very a normal part of their world to treat "other people" differently than they'd treat each other. Even though their religion is supposed to be one that closely imitates that of Jesus Christ who never practiced shunning or treating others differently in any form whatsoever.
How can they do it? It's something I've wondered for a while. And the answer, I believe, lies in dehumanizing.
One evening I was watching an operation on television. A man was having his sternum cracked open, held with a clamp and the surgeons were cutting away growths from his heart and other parts of his body. Not being one for blood and gore, I was wincing and looking away. Then I realized that if I told myself that it wasn't a person being operated on, but instead a dog or a horse, that I could watch the operation without being upset at all.
And it worked.
During WWII, Jews were stripped of their citizenship in the third Reich and forced to live in ghetto's. They were stripped of their rights, forbidden to own businesses and the public were even encouraged to vandalize their property. The general public didn't seem to care. Eventually they were sent to Nazi concentration camps where horrors would be inflicted upon children as well as adults. Jews, in the third Reich, were not considered to be fully human. They were sub-human. And, despite being born within the Reich, were considered to be illegally residing there. The general public didn't care where they went. They were simply gone. And, as far as they were concerned, "good riddance, they wernt real Germans anyway".
During WWII, the Japanese had a lethal human experimentation camp known as Unit 731 (Nana-san-ichi Butai) the prisoners were referred to as "logs". Not human beings, not by their names - but "logs". Women were raped and experimented on by being inseminated with animal semen. Both men and women were operated on without anesthetic, frozen, put in compression chambers, infected with diseased and worse horrors than you can imagine.
Pick any cult and examine how it portrays non-members and ex-members. Do they have names? Do they use any other terminology to describe them other than a negative one?
Non-Jehovah's Witnesses are described as:
- People of the world
- Bad association
Ex-members have it worse:
- Mentally diseased
- God's enemies
- Partaking of the table of demons
Is it any wonder then, that the indoctrinated Jehovah's Witness has a knee-jerk reaction to treat ex-members with hate, fear and loathing?
This is because non-Jehovah's Witnesses are dehumanized. We become "things" that are going to be destroyed. We dont have "the truth" and therefore they shouldn't get too close to us or become our friends. Heaven forbid that the Jehovah's Witness see's us as loving, caring, empathetic beings that care for them and who have the same ups and downs in life as they do.
Remember we were told that the first thing we needed to do to become close to god was to know his name and use it? The same thing needs to happen to short circuit the dehumanizing mentality. Give them your name. Make them use your name. Share aspects of your life with them, good and bad, to let them see that you're just like them. This is why when Jehovah's Witnesses build friendships with non-members they end up slipping away from the religion - they see these people as just like them. It's very powerful and the Watchtower society knows this, that's why they're warned not to have friends "in the world".