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Have we redefined “in group” loyalty to require hate?

by Greg Krehbiel on 6 December 2017

I’ve been having a very interesting discussion about who our moral leaders are, which led to the observation that the left wouldn’t accept the right’s moral leaders, or vice versa, that Christians wouldn’t accept the moral leaders of the secularists, and vice versa, etc.

And while that’s certainly true on some issues, isn’t there a lot of common ground? We all value honesty, integrity, faithfulness, kindness, charity, etc. Why can’t somebody be that guy?

As the conversation moved around, I started to think the problem is that we’ve changed what it means to be part of a group. We like to say things like, “this is what I do, but you can do your own thing,” but … that’s not how it actually plays out. Rather, being a part of one group is often defined by who you hate and insult, who you criticize, who you can’t stand, etc. Expressing how you “can’t even” ____ shows how “in group” you are. You’re only fully sanctified when you can’t tolerate anything but your side’s position.

It’s not enough to have liberal convictions. You have to “take a stand” against Trump. It’s not enough to like Trump. You have to beat back the liberal hoard. And the activism required to be a “real” whatever is almost always negative — at least psychologically, but also behaviorally.

A “real” Christian is always arguing with unbelief. A “real” atheist is always making fun of believers. A “real” conservative is always berating liberals. etc.

Part of the reason is probably that outrage gets more clicks and likes and shares than calm statements of principle. But is that the whole story, or is something else in our culture driving us to this antithetical way of living?

2017-12-06  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 8

  1. William
    6 December 2017 @ 2:16 pm

    QUOTE: We all value honesty, integrity, faithfulness, kindness, charity, etc.

    Many hold to this belief but is it really true for all? When people boldly say things like, “I don’t care if someone is guilty of ‘X’, I’ll support them anyway”, it makes me wonder. Is there a growing swath of people that would rather support the antithesis of these wholesome values? As well, is the current environment ripe for these unwholesome values to be expressed openly without concern for condemnation?

    QUOTE: But is that the whole story, or is something else in our culture driving us to this antithetical way of living?

    I think the base part of human nature is finally catching up with us. In previous times, there were societal conventions that kept things somewhat in check (mostly driven by religious convictions). These days, we have a generation of people that have been raised to feel entitled, challenge conventional norms and believe”anything” they think and feel is valid. For instant, who says it’s wrong to “hate”? Who says it’s inappropriate to be publicly bellicostic, even when comments are offensive and unnecessary? Who says it’s wrong to lie, especially when it’s for your benefit? Who says it’s wrong to cheat on your spouse or significant other…in fact is there such a thing as cheating? I suspect we are in a “live and let live” (despite the consequences) era. The question is, will we allow this to continue to our detriment or will some individual or group rise up and say enough is enough and influence the culture to wholeheartedly embrace values such as honesty, integrity, faithfulness, kindness, charity, etc.

  2. pentamom
    7 December 2017 @ 9:21 am

    Well said, William. I think certain “good faith assumptions” are beginning to break down. I don’t think we’re yet at the point of saying it’s right to assume people act in bad faith, but I think we need to be quicker than we’ve been used to, to let that assumption go when people reveal themselves to be driven by ideology and self-interest over integrity of belief.

  3. Ken Crawford
    7 December 2017 @ 10:53 am

    As a starter, topics like these is why I love this blog… er. “Report”. 🙂 Thinking through the tough issues and what underlies them.

    I think there are a lot of things at play. What William says rings true to me, at least partially. But another thing I think is an attitude that no reasonable person could hold an opinion outside of my own. Is that arrogance? Is that ignorance? A bit of both? Because anyone who’s meaningfully thought through the roots of their own opinions know that at some level there are principles that are difficult to prove, even if they ring very true as a belief.

    But most people don’t do that. Too many people think what they believe is just factually accurate and not at all debatable.

    And once you’ve gotten to that place, where the only thing reasonable people could believe is what I believe, then you’re in a place where it is very easy to hate the other side. They just *have* to be either stupid or evil. There can’t be any other option.

  4. William
    7 December 2017 @ 11:16 am

    Good points, Ken and I’d agree some of this at play. Yet, this isn’t a new dynamic. People have thought/acted in this manner a long time but without the impact we’re experiencing currently. So, what’s changed such that this dynamic is now having a significant effect on the culture?

  5. Ken Crawford
    7 December 2017 @ 5:35 pm

    William, that’s a good question. Maybe part of it is we live in an era of less ideological homogeneity within society (each particular one, not across them) than at just about any time in history? Perhaps people could get away with bigotry against the outsider easier in other eras?

    And if that were just happening at the level of the masses, I think that answer would give me far more comfort. But my gut instinct tells me that while the masses could have gotten away with that in eras past, the intelligentsia from other eras were far more appreciative how difficult it was to defend their positions and therefore had more academic openness. But it feels like today that’s disappearing, that the masses are “infecting” the elite.

  6. pentamom
    8 December 2017 @ 12:18 pm

    Or is that with the rise of the Internet, there’s no real distinction between the elite and the masses? In the past, being part of the intellectual elite was tacitly assumed to bring with it some responsibility for intellectual integrity and humility, while the neighborhood blowhard could just be the neighborhood blowhard. If you wanted to be published in a platform that would be widely read and taken seriously, your thoughts had to be more than just opinionated emoting. If you wanted to do more than opinionated emoting, the stool at the end of the bar was always there for you but you weren’t likely to garner a large audience.

    Now some guy gets a blog, a podcast, or even a Twitter account, figures out how to get a following, and your neighborhood blowhard is suddenly someone whom hundreds, thousands, or even more people follow and parrot.

    I don’t think that public discourse *should* necessarily be an elitist enterprise, but maybe what’s happened is that the elitism has broken down without the non-elites imbibing the responsibility that the elite were understood to have (though they didn’t always practice it.)

  7. pentamom
    8 December 2017 @ 12:18 pm

    Oops:

    If you wanted to do NO more than opinionated emoting, the stool at the end of the bar….

  8. William
    8 December 2017 @ 2:58 pm

    So, I guess the Internet is the great equalizer, of sorts. I admit, I find it fascinating that people will not only listen to but idolize the opinion of some guy from West Podunk. They know nothing of his background or expertise except he agrees with them. That’s enough to grant instant credibility and follow him.

    Even more interesting, it seems now there’s a market for internet trolls that have been booted off mainstream platforms. For them, the more extreme, the better.

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