Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Crisis, Controversy, and Cuckoo for Conspiracies

I've mentioned before that the way people act has always fascinated me. By that what I mean is why people do what they do; what compels them to reason it out in their minds to a place where it may make perfect sense to them, but makes no sense whatsoever to anyone else. I'm pretty sure reading True Detective magazine as a young child is where this interest came from.

I'm pretty sure we all know folks that love to be smack dab in the middle of some kind of crisis, all the time. Maybe they like it because if they are the 'victim' in the crisis situation, they'll get lots of attention. Maybe they like it because it gives them a sense of importance or focus in their lives as they make every effort to solve the crisis. Of course once a crisis is solved, it wont be long before that person is embroiled in yet another high tension situation and they'll be all too happy to tell you all about it.

blah blah blah... give me peace and quietThen there are folks that absolutely thrive on controversy. They like being the center of attention and will often do or say things just to get a fire started. Once started, they'll pull out all the stops to make sure they keep adding fuel to that fire to keep it going. If they don't have a controversy of their own, they're all too eager to jump into someone else's controversy and quite often will try to make the whole thing about them.

Another aspect that falls right into this same general category are the conspiracy folks. Religious and non-religious alike, pretty much everyone is out to get them, has a devious agenda, or some kind of wicked ulterior motive designed solely to ruin their lives or infringe on their rights and freedoms (which results in crisis-situation and is definitely controversial). It might be the electric company, the local grocery store chain, the insurance industry, those who hold to reformed theology, or those who wear real fur, request plastic bags at the grocery store, own a gun, eat red meat or use a gas powered lawn mower. No single person or organization is off limits - anyone might be named among the conspiracy at any given time.

Now, while all of us deal with crisis from time to time, and most of us have been (either willingly or not) involved in some kind of controversy, or even suspected some sort of legitimate and underhanded conspiracy - I'm definitely not talking about the "from time to time" situation. That's just a part of every day living that is almost impossible to avoid for most of us. I'm also definitely not talking about contending for the faith especially as it pertains to doctrinal positions that by their very nature are considered controversial (yes, for all intents and purposes, I'm a Calvinist, and that's enough to send some people into a foaming-at-the-mouth-tailspin), and can at times be the center of a controversial (or heated at least) online conversation. Nope, not talking about those things. I'm talking about the folks that are seemingly always caught up in these types of situations, where everything is larger than life, you're expected to take a side (or be harshly judged and/or treated poorly in some other way), and the whole world once again appears to be revolving around that person with that issue.

I'm talking about trouble-makers, attention-seekers, mountain-out-of-molehill-makers, eager martyrs, and victim-syndromers. I don't think that's even a word but I'm sure you get my drift. I believe that most Christians know that the Bible is very clear (Proverbs 4:14-15, 13:20, 16:28, 20:3, 26:17, 26:20, Romans 16:17, 1Cor. 15:33, James 3:16 - just to note a short list) that a.) we're not to be like this and b.) we're to avoid people who are, and not get swept up into their whole deal - whatever that deal happens to be. Sometimes though, the problem is that it's easy to get caught up in this kind of nonsense with misplaced motives (usually wanting to help, or be a voice of reason). Other times, it's just plain exciting or entertaining and we feel like making a comment about it because it's just plain exciting.

While my little graphic there indicates that I'm referring to blogs, this sort of thing certainly isn't limited to bloggy land - even though it goes on here too. It even goes on behind the scenes via emails, instant messages, saved files/logs and phone calls - so even if we never actually "see" what's being said, from time to time there are little jabs made that reference those things so it's known that it's (whatever "it" is) thoroughly discussed, offline. In fact, something I just said there probably made you nod your head as you recall seeing something like that mentioned, somewhere. It's all very DayTime TV drama, and quite honestly its all very unChristlike. Even the times I've been caught up in it myself and have been just as guilty as the next person, it's still all very unChristlike.

Even though we homeschool, there is a social structure among kids and teens that unless you live in a cave, on an island, or on the moon where there are no other kids and teenagers, you just can't avoid it. Your kids will not be able to avoid it and have to be properly taught how to handle it. What I'm referring to specifically is the ever popular gossip-fest and rumor-mill.


hush, and leave me out of it - it's none of my business!Over the last year our 17 year old has been caught up numerous times in this sort of mess and it's been very very difficult for her to handle. Her and I have had ample opportunities to discuss the best strategy when dealing with things like this, and even though the answers are all good, putting it into practice isn't always so easy (especially when she's the kind of person that utterly loathes being lied about, and has a hard time keeping her own temper in check about such things). Whether she likes it or not, there are at least a couple of young women close to her age that just love to name her and tell stories about her, that always manage to get back to her - because other people entertain the gossip and spread it. While I am certainly not naive enough to believe any of my kids are 100% innocent, 100% of the time, some of the stories I've even heard are so outrageous and ridiculous, that I can't even believe anyone would bother to repeat them. But... that's the nature of the beast of the gossip mill - the controversy, the crisis, the new "thing". Folks jump on for the exciting ride and make the situation even worse.

I've had to be honest with her when I tell her that she MUST learn to properly deal with it now, because this is one of those things that she will face for the rest of her life (unless she moves to the moon where there are no other people). Truth be told however, even I don't deal with this sort of thing very well. In highschool I always hated the whole Rumor Fest thing, and avoided it as much as possible. Sometimes I wish I wouldn't have avoided it so much when I was young, so I'd have a better grasp on how to deal with it as an adult. Even with the clarity of Scripture, sometimes I find myself mishandling a situation where someone comes to me with some information or a "prayer request" (ya gotta love those, eh?), or an accusation about someone or something. Sometimes, I just want to have a pre-made sign to hold up that says what I'm really thinking. That's probably not the best attitude though (or the right wording, to handle it with grace).

I am thankful for the friends I have, that feel exactly the same way about this, as I do. I am thankful that my pastor and husband also both feel exactly the same way, and that my pastor doesn't shy away from addressing it. I need to be around wise people, because I learn from their examples, and that's a really good thing. Maybe by the time my younger kids are older, I'll have a better handle on this sort of thing, and that'll be a really good thing too.