How Not to be in Control

There is a right way and a wrong way

A story came across my newsfeed this morning that fed really nicely into what I was talking about the other day with regards to control. The short piece was about how the internet of America is beginning to split along partisan lines, with conservatives responding to more liberal moves to address misinformation by creating their own, conservative-leaning platforms. When you look into those platforms, you find that they are created with the stated intention of protecting and encouraging free speech.

Something we have heard a lot about in the past few months is Russia’s relentless misinformation campaign to undermine the global efforts to interfere with their invasion of Ukraine. They have even tried to connect President Biden with the creation of biological weapons in Ukraine intended to be spread via bird (you can see a reliable fact-check of that story here).

Everyone is trying to control the narrative, and that is the problem. Rather than work together to uncover the truth, we are further splitting and dividing ourselves into camps. What starts as a move by the left to stop the spread of false information is being turned into an “I’m right and you're wrong!” scenario.

I have likely talked about it before, but when I was younger, I went with the men from my church to a Promise Keeper’s rally. The pastor that gave his message right before lunch had, as his theme, this idea of defending your faith against those who sought to undermine it. He got the crowd worked into a tizzy, with the room chanting back and forth, “I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG!” During lunch, we were all outside eating our sack lunches and there was an altercation between group of protestors and a group of conference-goers. The Promise Keepers had a man surrounded and were angrily pointing and shouting at him, “I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG!”

We are doing this with our speech. We have decided that we are not going to listen to the other side and instead split up and shout at each other about being right while the other is wrong.

Hence the creation of separate, conservative social media platforms.

Hence our own lives.

We all want to be in control of the narrative. We all want to decide what is best for us. We all want to decide what our own correct course of action is. There is nothing wrong with that. We should not live our lives at the direction of others. That level of codependency is unhealthy.

In Robert Heinlein’s book Stranger in a Strange Land, we encounter a woman who makes her decisions based solely on the psychic readings of one particular medium. Every single decision she makes, she consults this medium.

I read an article yesterday about a young woman saying her walk with the Lord suffered after she got married because she was no longer able to have her regular “quiet time”. Same vibes as the story about the medium.

But that is not what we are talking about here.

The issue at hand is that we want to be in control in such a way that our version of things is the only way to understand them. We do not want to hear that our version might be wrong. So we find ways to silence the other side. The best way to do that is to isolate ourselves from “them” and then not let “them” in. Then we do not have to hear it and we can say what we want to say and pretend like we are free.

The reality is, in trying to exact this kind of control over our lives, we have actually fallen under the control of another. It becomes necessary to think like the group, otherwise, you are an outsider. It becomes harder and harder to question the group, even when they are wrong, because to do so makes you one of “them”.

It is simply not possible to take control by being under control.

The right way to be in control of our lives is to allow other voices to be heard. To listen to those voices and learn from them. This is different than just letting people say and spread whatever they want to. And that is where we are going to go next time.

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