Monday, August 7, 2017

Apologetics

     (Warning! My Gentle Readers have surely already realized from the graphic above that the title misapplies the word apologetics. As a Catholic and a serious student of religion, I’m well aware of what the word really means. You needn’t declaim about it to me. Allow me my little whimsies. Besides, the misapplication is more apparent than real.)

     Lately, absolutely everyone seems to be...offended. (To be precise, if you’re not already offended, you’re looking for a reason to be.) That bugs the living shit out of me. I’ve made no secret of that. But what’s worse is the reinforcement the offended ones receive from well-meaning others who misguidedly seek to smooth their feathers.

     It must stop – NOW.


     Some years ago, in a conversation with the esteemed Chris Muir, I asked him whether he had any difficulties with irritating detractors – trolls, in our contemporary argot – and how he chose to deal with them. Chris’s reply was brief and penetrating. He said that what they wanted was a response; therefore, he refused to give them one. Deprived of the reinforcement they sought, they soon went away.

     Priorities! Logic! Maturity! Brilliance! I was, to say the least, impressed. If it works so well for Chris, whose readership numbers in the tens of thousands, it should work for everyone. However, few in the Right make use of it – and the Left knows it.

     Rather, not only do we supply the response the troll seeks, we compound the felony by apologizing: i.e., trying to explain ourselves.

     That is wrong for at least three reasons:

  • You’re providing an attacker with what he wants;
  • You’re expressing contrition for a view it’s your perfect right to hold;
  • Your attacker isn’t interested in your explanation; he merely seeks to annoy and deflect you.

     But believe it or not, it gets worse than that.


     He made, in his inexperience, the classic mistake: he tried to explain. Life had not yet taught him how futile that approach is, with men and women alike. He did not know that the only respect-compelling attitude toward any accusation, true or false, is: “Take me or leave me as I am, and be damned!” – Frank Yerby, An Odor Of Sanctity

     An apology implies that one has committed an offense. An explanation is an attempt at self-exculpation. Therefore, unless the item of behavior for which you’re considering issuing an apology is forbidden by the Ten Commandments, suppress the urge. Unless the person who appears to want an apology from you is a loved one or a minor child, the proper response is quite different:

     (The minor child should merely be ignored. He needs the life lesson before he encounters someone carrying a weapon. In the case of a person of mature years who’s merely acting like a child, try sarcasm: e.g., “I’m sorry that wasn’t covered by your third grade teacher.” It probably won’t work, but it might make you feel better. As for a loved one, there’s no remedy but blatantly indifferent silence. Let her sulk.)

     I’ve ranted about this before, of course. Yet the apologies continue to pour forth – and from people who have nothing to apologize for and should know better than to issue them. Apparently, no one was listening.

FOR THOSE WHO STILL DON’T GET IT:

     If you’re apologizing for something you sincerely believe or consciously meant to do, you’re the victim. Not the person demanding the apology. He’s deflecting you from your priorities to his. If you permit it, you’ll have only yourself to blame.


     Just this morning, I encountered a variation on the unjustified apology that deserves special mention:

     Capitalism may not be perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than anything else. – Chris Blake

     This is not meant as a slam at the author. I like Chris. I’ve enjoyed visiting his site for several years. But like many others in the Right who write for the Web, he sometimes qualifies a perfectly accurate statement with an apologetic forelock-tug. It’s a bad habit, especially given the slipperiness of words such as perfect.

     “Capitalism may not be perfect.” Meaning what? That it doesn’t give everyone exactly what he wants, when he wants it, at a price he’s happy to pay? Anyway, what is capitalism that it should require anyone’s defense?

     Capitalism is economic freedom. It’s the way we pursue our various priorities when we’re left free to do so. Would anyone ever feel a need to say that freedom “may not be perfect?” Would you listen respectfully to whatever might follow such a claim?

     Yet Chris is not alone in feeling the need to add that qualifier to his statement of preference for capitalism. Virtually everyone does it, including many sharp-minded economists who know full well that there is no other scheme that’s fit for human consumption. We apologize for wanting to be free!

     Glory be to God, people! If what you want is moral and rational, why do you apologize for it? What will it take to get you to stop?


     Herewith, a brief story about a recent encounter. It might make you uncomfortable. In fact, I rather hope it will do so, because it’s more important than anything else I’ve written here.

     Quite recently I made the acquaintance of a woman I’ll call Jane. Briefly, Jane is in dire straits. She’s a fifty-year-old cancer survivor, the chemotherapy for which has largely ruined her body. She’s penniless, her only income being SSDI. She has a fourteen year old daughter she loves more than her own life. Yet Jane’s parents have contrived to take custody of her daughter from her. Those parents are also exceedingly controlling. They’re determined that Jane and her daughter shall not escape their clutches and have taken measures to thwart all her previous attempts.

     Yes, I’ve verified all of that. Jane is a true victim of circumstances and other people. Events have beaten the will completely out of her. She has no idea how to make even a small change in her situation.

     You can imagine my reaction at learning all the above. I want very badly to help this woman. “Act with love toward those whom God puts in your path,” Father Schliemann said, and I’ve resolved to do so to the best of my ability. But there’s a problem with that: Jane herself. She’s massively reluctant to prioritize.

     It’s clear that Jane must leave her parents’ home. She agrees with that. But she wants to stay close to them, even though they live in a very expensive district that Jane could never afford. Besides, there’s her daughter, who’d have to leave all her friends and the high school she wants to attend. And Jane doesn’t want to live in this place, or that one, or in this other district...

     Frustrating, eh? But you haven’t heard the worst part: She kept apologizing to me for all this! If I still had any hair, I’d be tearing it out. Instead, I got tough:

     “Damn it all, make some choices! You have to decide what matters most and deal with it,” I said. “That’s how problems are solved. Not by tangling them up into a big ball. Now look at me: Do you want to solve any of your problems or not?

     I was shouting by the end of that. It’s my natural response to such behavior. Most women act offended by it. To her credit, Jane did not. All the same, she kept apologizing for everything, and nothing I could say or do would stop her.

     How do you help someone who apologizes for her own existence?


     The Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking "Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?" they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on. – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

     I’m unsure there’s any point to going on further, either about this subject or at this blog. Nothing changes. No one is listening. The wisdom of greater men than I and greater minds than mine has been ignored, so why should I hope to have a greater effect? It’s foolish, really. Yet I’ve persisted since 1997.

     Will you listen to me just this once, Gentle Reader? Stop apologizing. It’s a sign of weakness, a placard that says to your enemies “Attack here.” He who assails you wants your response more than anything else. His assaultive behavior will be reinforced by it. Besides, apologies are meaningless. If you’re wrong, either events have already demonstrated it or they soon will. If you’re right...?

     If John Wayne wouldn’t apologize, why should you? Are you less of a man than he was? Are your rights and prerogatives inferior to his – or to mine?

     Have a nice Monday, if that’s possible after reading the above.

4 comments:

  1. An excellent Monday indeed, with advice to match. Thank you for your insight!

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  2. This is a lesson that it took me many years to learn. I am fortunate that I did eventually learn it, though. I rarely feel guilt because nearly all greivances people have are not inflicted by me. I don't feel guilty, therefore I do not feel the need to apologize, because I do not make others' problems my own.

    And I am listening Fran! Thank you for being that voice calling out of the wilderness.....

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  3. When my crazy raving lying commie thief of a brother called literally screaming at me about something that was none of his business my first words were, "But you need to understand" at which point I stopped dead and thought to myself, "I don't owe him an explanation or anything else for that matter." I hung up the phone and haven't spoken to him since. I realized that I had been "explaining" myself to him since the day I could first utter a word. That was over 8 years ago and I have no intention of ever speaking to him again.

    I deal with all lying crazy people now in exactly the same manner. No apologies, ever.

    Great article, Fran. Thanks

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  4. Fran, there are 100 million plus of us who will never submit, never apologize, and never recant. I'm 58, and an engineering manager, with a Masters in Mech Engr, and an MBA that I earned back when those degrees meant something.

    I do NOT relent when opposed by these nefarious creatures, I go on the attack. They work for *me*, not the other way around. Political correctness is frowned upon in my company, as it should be.

    So, keep the faith, we are regaining sanity in some places, soon to be everywhere.
    It's just a matter of time and appropriate training of the young ones.

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