Lumping people and groups together

by kenpodragon 1 Replies latest jw friends

  • kenpodragon

    When I was a Witness and looked at people of the world, this is what I thought ...

    Worldly : People who are not really happy, because they have no hope of Paradise and they worship the Devil, even though they think they are worshipping other Gods. There families are a mess and they have problems with drugs, alcohol and other addictions.

    When I was a Witness and looked at people who were disfellowshiped, this is what I thought ...

    Disfellowshiped : Lost people who are angry and unhappy. People who have turned to the worse way of life and chosen to serve the world, over serving Jehovah. Basically, free of God's spirit and lost.

    It is amazing when I think about this, as I can actually remember why I felt this way. I would see something on the news and read something in the paper, and all I could think of was, "this shows that I am right!" It did not matter what I was reading or what I was watching, I could always find something to support my feelings on this matter.

    For example, I was once at a parade in our town and I saw this family of people who were all looking kind of rough. They were angry and fighting and the mom was looking like someone who was abusive to her children. The kids all looked scared and unhappy, and the whole family looked like a mess. I remember turning to my wife and saying something along the lines of, "what a life without Jehovah." To which she agreed. Here is the kicker though, this was one family out of about a thousand families in attendance and I used them as an example of what "worldly" people are.

    Another example, I remember waking up in the morning and looking through the newspaper. I was reading articles about how people were supporting local charities and how people were making a difference in their world and what did I notice more. I noticed that there was a riot in some Asian country, and sure enough, there I was again thinking, "what a life without Jehovah."

    Perhaps it is just me, but I can not help but notice the habit I had as a Witness to lump negative things together and assume that I know enough to make a opinion on someone or one group. I was programmed to not see the positive side, or the positive moments that would mean something else or that I was wrong. I just saw the moments that supported my negative opinion of others.

    Now that I am no longer a Witness and living in the real world. I realized years ago, that this habit had to stop. I started looking to crowds and seeing the troubled people and the happy people, and I have noticed that the happy people outnumber the rest. When I look in the newspaper, I take a moment to consider the positive stories and the troubling ones and I have noticed that the news reports the negative more. Not because it is so much in abundance, but because it sells better with their customers.

    So when I talk to people now and I look to certain groups. I try so hard not to repeat habits of my past, which was to lump people together as one group. Especially so with Jehovah's Witnesses. I do not want to be like them and see one group as something only a few really are. I know Witnesses can be negative, judgmental and hateful. Yet they are not ALL that way. Some are positive, easy going and loving. As much as the religion bothers me, I am not going to lower myself to their level and seeing them as something they are not ALL like.

    I guess it is part of life to learn from our past and apply it to our future. If we take the time to take those small pieces that were us as the past, and realize that we can make them something better as a piece to our future. By trying to see the good in people, in life and in the world. Rather then spending my whole life looking for all the things that support a negative attitude of lumping the world or organization into one unhappy group.

    My thought


  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    It sounds like you are describing Cognitive Dissonance. Studies have found that people in high control groups and especially groups where there are failed prophesies the members need to find reasons to continue to believe what they are taught. JWs give up so much of what is a normal life. They need desperately to justify the choice to give up so much.

    When confronted with opposing beliefs (the world is bad but JWs are good vs some worldly people are good and some JWs are bad) the person is left with a dilemma. The teachings leave no room for the reality. And there are sanctions for not fully believing everything that is taught. Even questionning or doubting is labeled a sin.

    Therefore they cannot allow themselves to see the problems in the org. And they cannot allow themselves to see the happy successful people in the world. Every interaction with "the world" becomes an opportunity to find justification for the choices to sacrifice their lives to this org.

    And yes it is quite a task to undo the narrow minded thinking that results from this cognitive dissonance. You make a good point and one I agree with that we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of thinking all JWs are bad for still being there. We were just as misguided as they are. That didn't make us bad - just misguided.

    BTW it also explains why it is so hard to "help" them see the real "truth"

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