Have you ever had to deal with a female work colleague or family member who, just as the argument got interesting, turned on the tears? Immediately they win. It’s a not-too-subtle form of emotional blackmail. The tears shift the conversation away from reasoning and evidence and you have to stop and feel guilty and compassionate and find the Kleenex and ask if they’re okay and be caring. It’s a neat form of bullying. Most often it is not conscious or intentional, but it still works for all that.
Lest we lambast the ladies too much, the guys have their own emotional blackmail tricks. We use rage. If we don’t actually get mad we simmer. We use the silent threat of rage. We use stonewalling, isolation and fear. We block them out and keep them guessing and worrying that we might be “mad at them” or that we “don’t like them anymore”.
The problem with these games we play is that in both cases we are using the jackhammer of sentimentality. We’re using emotions to manipulate rather than reason to convince. We’re using emotions to control rather than compassion to serve.
In a relativistic age, in which people have neither the skills or time to speak reasonably, sentimentality is used more and more within the political and religious debates. I happened across a comment on the Chick-Fil-A demonstration yesterday–written by someone who I guess is a Christian who is compassionate towards homosexual people. It read something like this:
I am so very sad to see the throngs of people lining up at Chick-Fil-As around the country. The pain in my heart radiates to every fiber of my being. I am heartbroken to see so many “Christians” enjoying the pain they are inflicting on their neighbors. It is a travesty of the faith we share. Every smug sip you take from that lemonade tells the world that your version of following Christ includes inflicting pain on your neighbor.
This is the dictatorship of sentimentality in full swing. Read more.
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