Cognitive Dissonance: Why I Write and Why I Now Choose Controversy

Welcome, readers.  I’m leveling with you in this post.  I’ve been at war with myself for a while, specifically concerning this blog, and here’s why.  I’m no great shakes at writing about topics I don’t have a flaming passion for.  Ask me to write about ways to organize your life or some bunk like that, and sure, I can probably drag through a single post.  It’s not a topic I can go back to often, though.  Heck, I’ve got at least two posts somewhere in this blog that were meant as series, and never got finished.

The topics I am passionate about, enough to blog regularly though?  Well, those topics tend to evince strong reactions from folks.  Among them anger and offense, among other things.  Those aren’t reactions most people willingly invite into places they consider safe.

That’s just it, though.

My blog was never meant as a “safe space” for anyone.  Myself included.  Examining the themes in the fiction I write and will publish, I don’t avoid hard topics.  I don’t avoid controversial issues.  And I don’t usually agree with one side or the other when it comes to handling said issues.

Why Do I Write?

Two reasons.  I write because I can’t help it.  I need to.  And I write to challenge my readers, as much as to challenge myself.

I’ve started a new habit lately.  As a Christian, and specifically a Latter-day Saint (Mormon), I’ve been told since I started to walk that reading my Scriptures every day is a necessary habit.  And guess what?  I never did.  For quite a few reasons, including the horrid feeling that I’d never measure up.  Well, untreated mental disorders can do that.  I’ve been diagnosed with three, including Major Depressive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder – Combination Type, and Gender Dysphoria (the mental troubles associated with being transgender in a world where gender is treated as a black and white and termed as a binary, when it’s neither.)

For years, I’ve wondered (and prayed to know) WHY I’ve got these problems.  And yes, I knew I had them long before the diagnoses.  I just never had terms to get the tools to help get them under control.  Then I found this:

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. ~St. Matthew 10:38

Now, I’ve heard this reference on and off for most of my life, and until two days ago, I seriously thought it meant, yes, you’ll be miserable, but remember, if you’re not, then you’re not worthy of saving.  Except given my experiences the last year, I’ve got a different perspective.

See, first off, this is the first reference in Matthew to a cross.  For those familiar with Biblical teaching, later, when Jesus is crucified, the soldiers force a man, Simon of Cyrene, to carry His cross to the hill Calvary.

He knows that’s what’s going to happen.  He knows another will be forced to bear that terrible burden, carrying the instrument of his death.

Yet our troubles are our own.  I can no more give away my mental disorders to someone else, than someone born deaf can give that deafness to me.

And those troubles – no – those challenges shape us.  Physically, the piece of the cross in question was a large beam of wood long enough to set on shoulders and brace with one’s arms, if you don’t end up nailed to it, dying of course.  Yet imagine the effects of carrying a piece of wood like that constantly?

Seriously, the muscles, people!  You won’t get away without awesome muscles.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Now, yes, there will be pain involved, and likely the occasional splinter, probably a shoulder injury or two.  It’s inevitable.

But think of the benefits!  One inch punch anything.

(This is why I don’t believe in coddling kids.  Reasonable protection?  Sure.  Coddling?  NOPE.)

I write to make sense of my cross as much as to – hopefully – help you, my readers, find ways to make sense of yours.  I can’t do that and run a safe space full of rainbow butterflies and glitter glue.

Time for a New Direction

So, we come to the decision.  The triumphant side in the war of cognitive dissonance is the fact that I swing somewhere between ENFP Campaigner and ENTP Debater on the Meyers-Briggs thingy.  I see controversies in my face (trans bathrooms, Clinton/Trump, Christian values in politics or not, pro-choice or pro-life) and my first instinct is, whether I agree with you or not, not to commiserate with you in harmony about how awful or wrong the opposing side is, but to get you to THINK about the situation.

Far too often today, we allow ourselves to be told what to think or how to think.  We see memes on Facebook and search for evidence that confirms our own bias and our own internal narrative and conclusions, until we’re sick to death from seeing the opposing view.

Ten minutes on the internet, and I usually end up asking myself this question.  Just look at #JKRowlingisover.  Rowling supposedly confirmed that a character long beloved by the LGBTQ-I’m-not-even-sure-what-letters-go-here community and claimed in plenty of ships as gay or at least by is, in fact, heterosexual.  Le gasp!

And I just roll my eyes and sip my tea, because well, she was talking about an entirely different question concerning a different character, and in the books, if memory serves, the description of the room included posters of bikini-clad muggle girls affixed to the wall with a Permanent Sticking Charm.  If he had been gay, he would have been out, purely to irritate his parents, is my guess.

Hashtags like this point to deeper issues, though.  We can all feel it coming.

Society is changing.  Major shifts in cultural mores are underway, and no matter what side of a particular issue you happen to be on, we all need to be able to think clearly enough to decide just what that shift will look like.  Otherwise, we’ll be just like the hiker who loses the trail.  Maybe the hiker makes it out of the woods.  Maybe they die.

Breaking the Dividers

In June, I discussed why we need Love and Unity, not Tolerance.  I stand by that, and the only way we’re going to learn those skills, because they are skills, is by also learning to look past those things that divide us, and embrace those qualities which unite us.

It’s not a pretty process.  It’s not an easy process.  It’s definitely not a process safe from offending some folks, on either side of whatever divide that day’s post happens to be about.  I expect trolls.  I expect haters.  And I hope for honest folk as well, that just want to see a perspective that may not be offered by the internet at large.

In light of all that, what kinds of controversy would you like to see covered from a different view?  And no, here, there are no sacred cows.  Give me your topic suggestions in the comments.  Otherwise, I’ll just keep rolling out content, and we’ll see where it goes.  Have a great day, all!

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