I want to discuss a few surprising recent realizations in my life, that I suspect many of you had at one point in your awakening process. I think we can all agree that the organization rather aggressively tries to make you dependent and unprepared to deal with those pesky worldly people.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the language and flow of the conversations themselves. While I wouldn’t consider myself extremely shelter, I’ve spent most of my adult life working in witness-owner companies and have, until recently, very little day-to-day contact with non-witnesses. Even after waking up, I thought I was rather well adjusted. While I am by no means outgoing, I can typically get people to like me and seem to be okay making friends with those I meet nowadays.
Yet, there are a number of things that continually surprise me. One of the most stunning things is how quickly you realize how every witness conversation has a certain flow and cadence to it. Those conversations at the meetings or in a field service group all have a very particular rhythm to them. And, I was pretty good at playing that game. I understood how to make the elderly women in our hall smile or how to make the most stern of elder nod his approval. There is a certain degree of playfulness that comes about because you can’t really ever have a disagreement or say anything negative. As an appointed man, there was this song and dance of fake humility as people heaped praise on you for very little reason. Honesty, real honesty, was whispered in the dark corners with a close confident but everything else was this strange tap dance not to offend anyone. You talked about superficial things and heaped praise on the organization.
Anyways, back to me. The above things are all things I was aware of before waking up. I think most witnesses see it but think it is a very good thing, a pure language. Some of the most disorienting things about trying to form relationships with people outside the borg is how chaotic it is. This is almost too asinine to write, but turns out, you can be friends with people who you have major disagreements with. You don’t all have to believe exactly the same thing. And when someone does disagree with you, it is not your task to “correct” their wrong thinking. Most of you non-americans are aware we just had a pretty heated election in this country. I was talking to two of my friends after work and they were hotly debating a topic. And my mind couldn’t even process that level of open confrontation. But guess what? One of them made a joke and they walked to their cars together arm in arm in friendship. For a never-in this probably seems like a rather non-event. But for someone born into the borg, this is a strange new world where differences are accepted and no one demands absolute obedience in thought outside of dystopian fiction.
A second thing (my last one, I promise) that is a bit embarrassing to admit is the role of women. Even when mentally in, I was on the liberal side of women’s role. I viewed my wife as my equal and would cringe anytime that sexist elder got on the stage and condescendingly thanking all the wives for all their hard work in the kitchen. Yet, as a man who as been deferred to by women since I have been baptized, it is sometimes a very strange feeling to have women in power. For example, several of my current managers are women. They are incredibly smart, talented and just about everything you would want as a employer. Yet, part of is still shaking the novelty of a woman directing me because we know how bizarro the witness view currently is. Hillary Clinton, who tens of millions of americans chose to lead the free world would not be “qualified” to carry a microphone in a local congregation. But as wacky as that logic is, it takes awhile to shake off those very ingrained notions of gender norms. I am sure, as I spend more time “awake” I will re calibrate even more so, but I was really taken aback how deep-rooted those senses are. But I look forward to slowly and surely marching towards my true self as I continue this process of self-discovery.
I wanted to write this because I know many of you have been awake much longer and would love to hear how you pulled those terrible habits and concepts out of your brain. And I think it is a good reminder that no matter how “awake” you may feel, there may still be traces of JW worldviews in your attitudes that you need to figure out. Thanks for listening!