If You Can’t Say Something Intelligent…

Found this quote today:

“There was a time when clergy were thought to have answers. And it was not just because people didn’t know any better back then. It was because many men and women of faith were intellectuals. They knew their bible AND their history. They could speak about theology AND about chemistry. Now many believers are ill equipped to speak about anything (that does not have a mascot) in a meaningful way. And in that regard, society should place us at the kids table. If we don’t have anything meaningful to say, we ought not say anything at all.”

It’s from a book by Michael Sherrard called How the Church’s Anti-Intellectualism with Be Her Jailor.

I assume most of us can agree with that last line.  If we don’t have anything meaningful to say, we ought not say anything at all.

The question is, how do we know if we’re saying something meaningful as opposed to cheering for a mascot?

Because there are plenty of popular topics having nothing to do with sports–that still come with their very own mascots.

There’s Atheism:

There’s Feminism:

 

There’s Breastfeeding Awareness:

There’s Animal Rights:

And there’s Christianity:

 

Clearly, the culture is very good at reducing complicated issues into bite-sized quotes and photos.

I don’t mean to say any of these causes are wrong…

And, the people driving these movements aren’t stupid! (Quite the opposite. ALL cultural crusades must include very smart people, to be successful.)

My question is, when we talk about these things–or, excuse me, I meant when we “spread awareness”–are we actually saying anything meaningful?

Or, are we simply jumping on a bandwagon and sharing other people’s ideas, which we’ve only half considered ourselves?

Any empty-headed person can repeat “dismantle the patriarchy!”  and “God isn’t real” and “I support your breastfeeding decisions–whenever, however”…

…and even “Jesus loves you!”

But are these the types of slogans which intellectuals rally around?

Or, as Michael Sherrard suggested, are the majority of us unable to speak about anything meaningful, without being led by a mascot?

If we don’t have something intelligent to say, we’re better off saying nothing at all.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

At least a few people agree with San Francisco’s new law–requiring pet stores to only sell rescue dogs, as opposed to buying-and-reselling from breeders.

 

“Great!”

“I love it!”

“Wonderful idea and new law!”

If you’re really concerned for the animals in shelters across the country, then I can see why you’d be excited about this.  The plan is two-fold:

  1. Encourage the adoption of homeless animals.
  2. and “Eradicate inhumane puppy-breeding operations” (often called “puppy mills”)

Many animal rights activists will argue that any type of breeding is wrong/unethical, even when the breeder is “reputable”:

Reputable breeders have a passion for breeding dogs and many do genuinely love the animals they care for, but that does not address the very real problem of what breeding pets does to the existing pet overpopulation problem.

According to the ASPCA, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters every year because of lack of space, resources, and people who are willing to adopt these animals.

…[T]he idea of producing more dogs to meet the “demands”…while there are hundreds of thousands of purebred dogs waiting in overcrowded shelters is incredibly irresponsible.

 

So, the argument seems to be that we should save a life rather than creating a new one.  (And, I’m not saying I disagree with that–per se.)

I’m just wondering whether these activists also have a problem with human in-vitro fertilization? 

When we demand that puppies be treated “humanely,” what do we really mean?…when there are thousands of HUMAN embryos frozen in banks, since their parents have gotten the babies they wanted and don’t know what to do with the rest…

(You can read more about frozen human embryos here.)

Is this what we mean by treating animals “humanely”?

Because, to me, fertility clinics that store frozen humans indefinitely sounds a bit like “large-scale breeding operations.”   Should we start calling them Baby Mills?

I’m really curious what you think–especially if you’re someone who believes families should “adopt, not shop” for their pets.  Do you feel the same about their human children, if they’re unable to conceive without help?

Should they “Adopt–not shop” for their babies?

How Stigmas Get Created

Just being a woman doesn’t make me a feminist.

Just being pregnant doesn’t make me annoyed by your pregnancy comments.

(Just being a homeschooler doesn’t make me annoyed by your homeschool comments.)

Not all girls want to “dismantle the patriarchy.”

Not all Asians are bothered by the suggestion that they’re good at math.

Not all black people call it a micro-aggression if you’re interested in their hair.

Not all people with mental illness believe we need to have more “conversations” about all the “stigma” surrounding their diagnosis…

…and that’s the trouble.

When well-meaning people use their personal opinions to speak for the whole group, then the whole group gets a reputation for thinking the same way…even when they don’t.

Eventually, the whole group starts being seen as equally over-sensitive.

Ironic, isn’t it?  Well-meaning activists have created a situation where the rest of society gets the idea that everybody with [insert trait] feels the same way about [insert issue].

The new “stigma” about people with mental illness is that they ALL feel mistreated.

The “stigma” about pregnant ladies is that they’re easily-angered by belly touches.

Asians are triggered by calculator jokes.

And all black people are sensitive about their hair.

These are stigmas that have been created by the very people supposedly trying to end stigmas!  

If they just let individuals speak for themselves, this wouldn’t happen.

If only we would stop lumping others into categories and making assumptions about them based on what ONE, loud member of that group claims.

In fact, you know what would be great?  It would be great if we started calling out the well-meaning (but WRONG) “activists” who begin every conversation with, “As a [female/person-of-color/mentally-ill/member of another group] let me educate you…”

Stop them right in their tracks and remind them, “You don’t speak for everybody.”

To the white, homeschooling, anxious/depressed, pregnant mothers who believe ALL OF US are sensitive about the same things: you don’t speak for me.

People are going to ask questions…they’re going to touch my belly…they’re going to do things I don’t necessarily like.  But some of us handle it just fine without writing “The 10 Things Not to Say to People Like Me.”

Thanks anyway.

Checking certain identity boxes does not make all of us the same.  What an unfortunate stigma to perpetuate…

(P.S. Not all Irish people are sensitive about the phrase “Paddy Wagon.”  lol.)

Abusing Abuse

I’m not a huge fan of Psychology Today, but I found this article interesting, on The Blurred Line Between Victims and Abusers:

“In our Age of Entitlement, it is often difficult for friends and therapists to detect abuse in intimate relationships and to discern who the primary abuser is. 

Why is it difficult to figure out who the abuser is?

Well, because–according to the article–the person saying “I’M BEING ABUSED” often is the guilty one.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Research and clinical experience clearly indicates that abusers are likely to:

• Hide, minimize, or justify their [own] abusive behavior toward others

• Describe themselves as victims

• Feel abused when their partners disagree with them or don’t do what they want

• Label their partners’ behavior as abusive

Does this surprise you?

Do you disagree with this psychologist? (It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the opinion of a psych professional was wrong.)  😉

If he’s correct, then a fair number of the people who are posting about their “Narcissistic” ex-partner on Facebook are the ones playing the role of the active abuser in their relationships…

 

When people post memes like this to earn sympathy and to turn their friends against their partner (who will not be allowed to defend himself), they need to take a look in the mirror.

At some point, repeatedly calling someone a narcissist or an abuser IS VERBAL ABUSE.

On the other hand, the article claims that VICTIMS are more likely to:

• Blame themselves in part for the abuse
• Make excuses for the abuser’s behavior
• Bend over backwards to see the abuser’s perspective
• Describe the abuser at least partially in sympathetic terms
• Exhibit self-doubt

Perhaps the problem is that most of us will be both a victim and an abuser, at different times in our lives.

In many cases, relationships consist of TWO, selfish, blame-sharing individuals, both scouring the internet for validation that their partner is more wrong than they are…

(And, as I’ve written about before, our beliefs about what kind of damage or symptoms we’ll have tend to become self-fulfilling prophesies. If we WANT to believe we’re being abused, we can do it.)

American psychology makes it very easy to blame others entirely for our own awful behavior…  And then all our Facebook friends can watch the meme wars between us and our ex.

 

 

 

So, who do we believe?

At what point does an abused person become the abuser?

Maybe, for all our fancy terms and definitions, we’re no closer to solving the problem of sin nature and human selfishness than we were a thousand years ago.  Sure, cultures have shifted and changed a bit over time. But are things really BETTER now?

From the article:

“In the beginning of my career, I saw many male abuse victims who would become angry and verbally aggressive at the suggestion that their partners were abusing them. Now obvious victims, along with those who are not victims but who have identified with descriptions in self-help books, become angry and aggressive if they are not recognized as victims.”

I’m tempted to testify that I’ve seen this scenario play out in real life.

But, then, would that be a somewhat selfish thing to do–trying to gain sympathy from others for the abuse I’ve suffered?

It’s complicated.  And the moment we see ourselves as victims, we run the risk of flipping the script and using that victimhood to BE THE BULLY and abuser.

Again, I think all of us have the capacity to be either or both, at different times.

But what do you think?

It’s Not Me; It’s Your Standards

Did you know that college professors often get asked to change the grade of a student who thinks he/she deserves a higher one?

“…plenty of professors have told me that when many of their students get to college, they lug into the classroom a sense of academic entitlement—a belief that their papers and exams should be graded on how hard they’ve worked, not how well they’ve mastered the material.”

This is relevant in my home state of Indiana right now–because the Board of Education is conducting an investigation about why so many college graduates are unable to pass the State exams to get their teaching licenses.

Instead of asking ourselves whether colleges are graduating students who aren’t actually ready to teach, many Hoosiers are simply concluding THE TEST IS TOO HARD.

Nobody seems interested in the fact that Universities have spent the last few years telling kids they’re smarter than they are.

Nobody even MENTIONED the term “College Grade Inflation” in this article.  (Look it up!)

Meanwhile, Americans across the board are lagging behind other developed countries in basic math/reading skills.

 

Check out this article: Americans are getting dumber.

“In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test…

Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test…”

That’s kind of depressing, isn’t it, Americans? (I mean, assuming you could read and understand that block quote…?)

Maybe I’m wrong. But, it seems that people in Japan, Canada, Finland, and Australia are spending time learning how to apply facts, while Americans are spending their time learning how to make excuses for failures.

“I was tired.” or “I wasn’t given enough time” or “That wasn’t on the practice test!” or “I’m not going to need that information anyway”  or “I worked hard–so that should count.”

Nobody likes to fail. But it seems Americans are especially good at giving each other excuses for it. We hardly ever choose to accept blame for something, when we’re given the option to blame something that’s out of our control.  (We’re quickly realizing that there is ALWAYS something out of our control, that’s convenient for blaming.)

—–

Truly, I’d be more likely to believe the tests are unfair if our entire culture didn’t spend so much time elevating FEELINGS to the same level as facts.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty obvious that our entire education system focuses much, much more on “positive thinking” than on good scholarship, just by looking at the things we say to anyone who is struggling to get the result they want:

7.28.17 Meant To Teach

“I am meant to teach…” no matter what the tests say…

7.28.17 Meant To Teach (#2)

“I know at some point I WILL get it”…

(Well, no argument there.  Luck will be on her side eventually.)

7.28.17 Meant To Teach (#3)

“Our kids need loving teachers…”

(But why don’t we ever talk about “knowledgeable” teachers???)

7.28.17 Meant To Teach (#4)

“This test is keeping good educators from entering the classroom.”

(Again, he assumes he knows what a “good educator” is, better than the test.)

7.28.17 Meant To Teach (#5)

“Just because someone can pass a test doesn’t mean they’ll make a great teacher.”

(Apparently Orange Commenter thinks the only test a teacher needs to pass is whether another teacher likes them…)

Too many Americans–who likely graduated from public schools–now seem to believe that feelings and intentions count for more than whether a teacher actually knows his/her stuff.

You’ve seen the meme, I’m sure:  “Student’s don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

This has become a mantra in the education field.

“Students don’t care how much you know!”

“Students don’t care how much you know!”

 And I’m over here shouting, “Maybe they don’t care what you know–BUT THEY SHOULD!!!”

(For the record, I will teach my children that wise people seek out the most knowledgeable mentors–even if they’re not the nicest ones. If somebody has proven they are an expert in a certain area, you would be a fool to ignore what they say, just because you don’t think they “care” enough. That’s another ridiculous, American excuse for staying ignorant.)

—–

Meanwhile, it’s just a matter of time before we start complaining to the world researchers that their tests ranking us below Japan, Canada, Finland, and Australia were tooooooo haaaaaaard!

I bet we’d catch up with the rest of the developed world if we changed the test and started asking everybody how PASSIONATE they are about taking it.

If question #1 was, “How much do you believe in your ability to pass this test?” Americans would select, C. I can do anything if I work hard enough.  And, of course, by the new standards, that would be the correct answer!

We’ve got a lot of “passionate” and “positive” people in this country!

Somehow, we always find ways to believe we’re on the right track–and we deserve to follow our dreams–no matter how many times reality smacks us in the face.

We just know we’re MEANT to do it, even when our dream is to teach young minds how to become Olympic swimmers and we don’t know how to float.

The tests are wrong. They didn’t ask the right questions.

Indiana has plenty of caring people who are eager to educate the next generation about how to blame unfair tests for bad grades…if we can just make it a little easier for them to get a teacher’s license!

“You Better Help, Lady!”

I get a lot of mom-related advertisements in my social media feeds.  (Because, obviously.)

Anyway, this gem from Yoplait popped up the other day…

…and I just couldn’t handle the glaring irony.

 

I’ll quote the relevant parts of the transcript to demonstrate what bothers me.

Host: “We’re doing this really cool hidden camera social experiment about moms…”

Host: “Moms face a lot of judgment on social media…”

*experiment begins*

Host: (*while watching from hidden camera*)  “Come on, Mom, get in there!…(*whispers*) Oh, you better help, Lady!”

There…do you see what I mean?

Did you catch what’s happening here?

Okay, I’ll spell it out:

They’ve set up a hidden camera to make sure that one mom isn’t “judging” another mom.

In other words, they’re literally monitoring from backstage–watching to see if these moms behave the way they want them to behave.

How does Western Don’t-Judge culture keep missing this?

How is a Hidden Camera Experiment not inherently judgmental?

And, if that’s not clear enough, then here are pieces of Experiment #2:

 “Let’s see if these other moms offer themselves up as impromptu audiences [for the little girl]…”

(*hidden camera rolls*)

Host: “So far, so good!”

(*after the test-subject does what they wanted*)

“We have hidden cameras everywhere. And you nailed it, girl!”

And then, here’s me, while I’m listening to this:

Come on, guys, this isn’t that difficult.

We’re not making the world a less-judgmental place.

We are trying to teach people how to judge in more socially-accepted ways!

Now, before anyone gets the idea that I’m AGAINST this experiment–or AGAINST judgement in general–that’s not what I’m trying to say.

I’m pro-judgement, for this very reason.

I embraced the idea that I’m “judgmental” a long time ago, because I realized it’s impossible NOT to judge. 

I’d much rather admit to everyone that, yes, I’m watching you in public (and, yes, I think some are making good decisions and some are making bad ones), than try to pretend I’m not judgmental…WHILE SITTING BEHIND A CAMERA AND MONITORING HOW OTHER MOMS BEHAVE.

That’s just silly.

We can agree about this, right?

The only way to thank each other for doing something nice/good is if we judge first. Think about that. The problem isn’t watching and judging the choices other people make.

Instead, the problem is when we judge by unfair or untrue standards–such as giving ourselves a pass that we don’t give to others.  Or judging to make ourselves feel superior.

Once we understand that our goal is to start judging correctly, well then we’ve made a breakthrough.

Then we can have the conversation about whether it’s really fair and true that mothers should always “help” take pictures of a snotty kid who keeps sticking out his tongue.

(Yes, the host whispering “You better help, Lady!” still rubs me wrong. Like, maybe, if it were MY kid, I really wouldn’t want another mother to “help” by begging him to smile, when he’s being a turd. But, whatever.)

Anyway, my point is, embrace the fact that you’re judgmental.

Just embrace it!

At least when we admit that there are certain standards of behavior we expect other moms to follow–then these hidden-camera experiments actually make sense to test each other…

…instead of being completely hypocritical.

It’s Science!

Science doesn’t “say” anything.

Occasionally, a scientist will get involved with a cultural debate by sharing his/her opinions.  But, most of the time scientists are too busy asking questions and doing experiments to say for certain whether God exists or whether you “should” use cloth diapers or co-sleep with your baby.

So, when someone claims that “science says” something, what they mean is:

“Scientists published a research paper, which was interpreted by an internet magazine, which was turned into click bait by a few bloggers that I follow…

…and then I did some ‘research’ which involved Googling ‘Why Vaccines Will Kill You’…

…and that’s how I came to be educated about THE SCIENCE!”

The enlightened scholars rarely admit that research papers only take small samples of populations–and then publish suggestions about what might be happening to cause a certain result.

If they ever actually read any of the studies, they might stop pretending that scientific literature ever says anything like, “Therefore, you are correct and your mother-in-law is wrong–and spanking REALLY IS child abuse. Case closed.”

(No, that would be the internet magazine editor who came to that conclusion.)

But explaining this to an Enlightened Internet Scholar may be a lost cause.

Whatever skepticism they are capable of using, they tend to reserve ALL of it for any research papers that disagree with their favorite theories…

“Well, that’s just one, small study!”

Or, “That research group is known to be biased!”

Or, “Correlation does not equal causation!”

They simply will not apply the same criticisms, with the same intensity, to their own  side.

Therefore, if you can’t beat them, join them!

Don’t try to reason with a person who honestly believes “science says” the same thing as an opinion piece in “Psychology Today.”

Instead, just show them:

There is a God. (click)

Crying-to-sleep doesn’t damage children. (click)

Vaccines don’t cause autism. (click)

(Also, parents ought to spank their kids!)

*shrugs* If you want to stay ignorant, that’s fine with me.

I’M JUST TELLING YOU WHAT THE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH SAYS!!!

 

Sanctimommy