Here’s why I have no patience for conspiracy theories, and come down hard on those who unthinkingly repeat them…
With conspiracy theories, everything The Other says is assumed to be a false front for a hidden agenda.
The Other has no recourse, no ability to challenge what is being said, because anything they say is assumed to be in support of the conspiracy, even if what they say is objective fact or truth.
The Other, and everything they say, is judged as invalid (if not evil) even before they say it because they are seen as invalid for being (or believing in) the conspiracy.
Such thinking led to the deaths of millions of Jews (and others) in World War II, not to mention many other massacres of Jews and other minorities throughout history, all over the world.
Such thinking led to the U.S’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, and to the Vietnam War in the 1960’s and 70’s.
And yet, we all do this.
Many Conservatives see Liberals and Progressives as being deluded by all sorts of conspiracies intended to undermine morality, Christianity, and the U.S. Government. George Soros, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and the Liberal Media [among others] are seen as the root of all such evils.
Many Liberals and Progressives see Conservatives as being deluded by sorts of conspiracies designed to undermine morality, Christianity and the U.S. Government. The only real difference is that the Liberal bogeymen are different. Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, Pat Robertson and the Conservative Media [among others] are seen as the root of all such evils.
Conspiracy Theories make it impossible to hear each other because we refuse to listen. Conspiracy Theories make it impossible to seek the Common Good because it is assumed we are custodians of the Common Good: we delude ourselves into believing that what The Other says, wants or needs is irrelevant.
Conspiracy Theories threaten the foundation of our Democracy, which is built upon communication, transparency, and the realization that we have more in common than not.
Democracies rarely initiate wars, and the reason is simple: Democracy forces us to recognize that there is more to be gained through cooperation than conquest. Our President, Senators and Representatives in Washington – nearly all of them on both sides of the aisle – have forgotten this.
The Voters in the special Senate Election in Alabama between Doug Jones and Roy Moore have reminded us that we can stand up to those who reject reality and truth in favor of Conspiracy Theories. I’m not talking about whose political agenda was “best” or more grounded in reality. I’m talking about how voters from both parties came together to vote against a man who clearly stakes his entire existence on the validity of Conspiracy Theories and for a man who seeks to promote the Common Good.
This does not mean that the Democrats are superior, nor that the Republicans are inferior. I’m certain that GOP voters in Alabama will agree that their lack of enthusiasm for Roy Moore was not a reflection of some realization that the Democrats were right after all. Rather, they could see that electing Moore was not in anyone’s best interest. They realized that our Democracy cannot flourish if men like Moore and Trump are at it’s helm.
Our Democracy deserves better than that. We deserve better than that. For our country to flourish, we need responsible women and men in Washington, willing to set aside conspiracy theories and the slandering of our opponents; willing to set aside a “winner take all” approach to the political process, and who will work together to seek the common good – to make progress on the things we agree on, and continue talking and listening to each other on the things we don’t seem to agree on. That’s how Democracy works.
The current atmosphere in Washington reminds me more of what we see in the many unstable governments around the world, where a strongman or elite class rules with an iron fist: stamping out all opposition because they have the power to do so. Such regimes refuse to listen to what The People are saying, because they believe that only what those who are leaders have to say, and need, matters. This is exactly what is happening in the halls of Congress and in the White House right now.
We’re better than that. We deserve better than that. And, the voters in Alabama have shown us that we have the power, and right, to do better.
We must to follow their example.
Listen to your neighbor, even if you disagree with them. Don’t filter what they are saying through your own assumptions about what is behind their words. Truth must be our guide, not conspiracy theories.
– Pastor Allen
Copyright (c) 2017, Allen Vander Meulen III.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.