Has Our World Spun Off Its Axis?

There are people who think that any disagreement with their views is unacceptable, and when they become frustrated at their inability to get the other person to “see the light,” they resort to anger and ugliness. Sometimes, the anger is understandable, even righteous. Ugliness – in the form of ad hominem attacks, bullying, crass memes, vandalism, or violence – never is.

There are people who recognize that the failure is theirs: either their viewpoint is flawed or their persuasive skills are lacking. They can let that discourage and depress them and make them feel inadequate, or they can go back, re-examine their own knowledge, understanding, and belief to find better, more compelling, examples and arguments.

There are people who can simply accept others being “wrong” (because few people happily admit that they’re the ones who are!) and let it go.

If we want people to believe as we do – especially in matters of faith, as opposed to science – the best thing to do is to lead by good example. Forced conversion is no better than forced confession; pain avoidance and survival instincts are strong, but they don’t really change hearts and minds, nor do they elicit honesty from deep within. I don’t believe that an intimidated, terrified soul is a “saved” soul, or that most of us – if faced with torture – would not agree that the world is flat.

Faith and respect aren’t synonymous with mindlessness or fear. If you seek to convert others to your beliefs, inspire them by living as a shining example. If you want agreement with an argument, offer strong evidence and credible sources. Don’t shy away from or seek to hide contradictory facts – address those and craft persuasive, logical arguments as to why the ones you believe are better.

If you’re not willing to do that – because, admittedly, it takes some effort, learn to smile quietly and think, “Bless your pointy little head” and move on, with kindness, good will, and peace. The only time there should be need of violence – physical or mental – is in defending life and liberty from those who would take it or keep it only for themselves. Even then, I’m reasonably sure there’s never a time or a place for torture or mental cruelty.

This post began life as a reply to my friend Vivian Zabel’s post on Facebook:

Too often, we lament this social media incivility, but go right on perpetrating it. I want to challenge all of us to think about what we post and how we deal with others. I’m not advocating “political correctness” or “nicey-nice” (fake, smarmy, insincere pleasantry), but rather that we spend time talking kindly to each other and instead of shouting things like, “You’re so wrong, you damned fool!” make better arguments and work together on figuring out happy win-win compromises and solutions to things we can deal with. If that’s too much (and some days,. it really is) let’s try to at least smile and think “Bless your pointy little head” while posting cat memes.

Thank you, @SHurleyHall, for creating this quotation graphic from my post today:


I feel social-media loved, today. Truly, I feel honored. Thank you, Sharon, for that.


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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14 thoughts on “Has Our World Spun Off Its Axis?”

  1. I meant it when I wrote ” If I don’t want to read or hear their words, I turn them off and go on my way.” I do exactly that if I don’t want to read or hear something I don’t like. That’s what people should do.

    I’m not saying people can’t discuss differences, but discussing and fighting or attacking are different.

    1. Absolutely! Attacking and fighting only drive people deeper into their trenches. It’s not at all persuasive or helpful, and doesn’t usually bring about change. Gandhi has his detractors, but I think his “passive resistance” and “non-cooperation” strategies were more effective than all the fighting in the world.

  2. Amen!

    I occasionally choose to point out kindly to a Facebook friend that the meme quote they’ve posted has been deemed untrue and without merit by Snopes, but as a rule I do like Vivian does and just turn off certain notifications so I don’t have to read the mean and ugly and untrue stuff some people use to agitate the mob. I have my own set of spiritual and political beliefs, but the only reason I can think of to post such thoughts online is to stir up controversy. I’d rather stir up a bit of laughter…although today, after seeing the horror that took place in Paris, it’s a little difficult to think of something to laugh about.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…Why I NANOWRIMO … by Sarah ReichertMy Profile

    1. Strange, isn’t it, that I posted my Facebook comment and Holly posted this blog article before the horrible Paris attacks. Now the “students” who are protesting because they are whatever are upset because the France tragedy takes attention away from their protests. We live in a weird world any more.

      1. What, you never had to do bomb drills in school? 🙂

        Actually I missed that fun; my mom described them, and said she and most everyone she knew took them about as seriously as kids today take tornado drills. (Maybe kids who haven’t lived in Moore, Oklahoma.)

        I do think, though, that the best way we could honor our veterans would be to eliminate war. I’m not sure how we do that, but it seems a better way to say “thank you for your service” than a free meal at Denny’s.

      2. I don’t think we need to dismiss the concerns Mizzou students have over racism on campus (a place where all students should feel safe, valued, and challenged intellectually) or put down the Black Lives Matter movement (one that we should rightfully deal with head-on and sooner than later, since it’s happening in our own country) in order to feel compassion and sadness and solidarity with the French over what’s happening in France.

        That said, folks expressing frustration that terrorists stole their spotlight are idiots. Then again, maybe they’ll get made enough to enlist in the military and go fight ISIS. More power to them if that occurs to them.

        But just because the conduct of some people is childisly bratty or even truly reprehensible does not mean that some of the things they stand for – that others call for from their governments and their communities – are wrong. It just means they’re going about it in ugly, twisted, and ultimately (I believe) ineffective ways. That said, we (our government) shares some responsibility for creating the problems we struggle with today. The media needs to own up to its role in fanning the flames and manipulating opinions in ways that drive controversy and division, rather than unity.

        This nonsense has been going on longer than I’ve been alive, and will likely go on after I’m dead. I just wish we’d go back to getting it right more often than we get it wrong. We’re human – we’re never going to all get it right at the same time, all the time.

    2. On the one hand, I agree with you – it’s FACEBOOK, after all. It’s good to keep the peace and do our part not to contribute to the ugliness by stirring up controversy. On the other hand…

      I leave you with two thoughts:



      I leave you the links, because I think discussion of the quotations is more valueable than the platitudes the quotations, themselves, are in danger of becoming. I do believe in both of them, though.

      1. Holly, I believe in both of them (sentiments declared in your links), too. I don’t believe, however, that Facebook and Twitter are the right venues for serious discussions about my personal religious or political beliefs. Standing up for what’s right, in my humble opinion, is best done in person. From political caucuses (a process I hate, by the way, because it’s designed to inconvenience voters and keep them from participating) to group protests, successful change is accomplished among real people. Compare the effectiveness of the huge protests designed to end the Vietnam War with the wimpy online support of “Occupy whatever.” If we want change, we need to stop hiding behind our computer monitors, playing with memes on social media, and get out there to do something constructive.
        Patricia Stoltey recently posted…Why I NANOWRIMO … by Sarah ReichertMy Profile

  3. I tend to block a lot of things, as well as a few people who I stay connected to but dislike almost everything they put out. As a matter of fact, I’ve blocked a lot of people you engage with, who don’t even know me, who I think are on the radical fringe! lol I do that because it makes it a safe place for me to comment on some of what you put up, knowing that they’ll never see it and that I won’t get mad or upset or want so smack someone for utter stupidity.

    Fair and balanced conversation, absolutely. Otherwise… I don’t need any of that in my life.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Fitbit Trackers; Let’s TalkMy Profile

  4. This post keeps coming back into my thoughts. Pretty much every time the news shows yet another picture of Mr. Trump saying yet another outrageous thing. (Regardless of your politics, he really is quite bombastic and often inappropriate).

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