The ‘ISM’ trap

It saddens me, but it seems that we, as a society, have fallen into the most devious of traps that has been laid…the ‘ism’ trap. It has become the preferred way to frame discussion and to end conversation and polite and civil disagreement and to begin argument. See, all you need to do to gain the advantage is to bring up an ‘ism’ (or occasionally label someone a {fill in the blank} ‘phobe’ apparently for a bit of variety}. It’s not productive, and perhaps I am naive, but I don’t even think that it is true most of the time. I choose to think more of people than that. It isn’t a preferred tactic of the left, or of the right, but of nearly everyone. I was going to link a couple of pieces written in response to an internal UMC issue, but have chosen not to as the problem is really bigger than that. Near as I can tell, there are actually, in all fairness, two possibilities here. Possibility one is that the accusations are actually true, or those making them believe them to be true. Let’s assume for a moment that they are, what should be the response? The bible didn’t say to alienate your enemies and label those who persecute you, it said to love and to pray for them. Speaking from my own experiences, when labeled guilty of an ‘ism’ or ‘phobe’ I become defensive. Not because the accusation is true, but because it turns my stomach and pains me that I have said or done something that causes me to be viewed in such a light and I have a genuine desire to clear up the misunderstanding. Of course my attempts at doing that will only serve to fuel the claims that I am and am trying to hide it and the circle of escalation continues on and on until we are leveling personal assaults at each other and the issue at hand has been lost. If you sincerely believe that I am guilty of an ‘ism’ or a ‘phobe’ love me and pray for me. If you think someone else is, love and pray for them too. Throwing around hurtful labels doesn’t help it only hurts. Option two is that it is an attempt to gain favor and political or social power through intimidation. Let’s assume that this is true, what should be the response? See above really. Love and pray for those making the claims. They are going about things in the wrong manner and need the love and prayers of the faithful. Are you noticing the trend here? When we are loving and praying for each other, there is actually a chance to be able to get at and deal with the issues. When we are not we are just saying empty words that don’t settle anything. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, it will help end the anger and start the healing. In the words of a rather wise pastor I know. “Scott just pray for everyone. The madder you are at them, the more you should pray for them.” I, of course asked “why” as this made no sense to me. “Because Scott, it’s awful hard to stay pissed off at the people you pray for.” Maybe a little blunt (I need that often) but pretty good advice we all could maybe learn from.

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One Reply to “The ‘ISM’ trap”

  1. I too have a problem with people who apply “ism” to the other person. I just charge them with “labelism”.

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