Jumping off the Bandwagon

Last fall, when the Catholic League and many other fundamentalist Christians rallied together to boycott and destroy the pernicious message of The Golden Compass, I became outraged. My outrage brought out something that is so fundamentally American in me. I jumped on a bandwagon and joined the group, “Support the Golden Compass.”After my initial zeal wore down, I read the quotes by people in that group. “Anyone who says to boycott this needs to be shot” and “Church and religions are all out to control people.” While I supported the movie (despite my later disappointment in it), I couldn’t support the rhetoric that emerged from this side of the debate. Suffice to say, I left the group.This experience taught me that extremists exist in every group of people. If I took a cross section of any political, religious or academic ideology I would find a number of people wanting to blitzkrieg, crash planes into skyscrapers or “shoot those who say boycott.” In that same cross section, the majority of people probably just want to get along and enjoy life a little bit. It is unfortunate that radicals provide the stereotypical image for these groups of people, rather than their average member.While the debate was still raging on, and torches were being put to box office sales, I sat down to have coffee with my former youth minister. Despite his support for the boycott, he is a man I respect. In talking with him about the controversial movie, I learned something I could have used in debate years ago. To successfully argue with someone, proving or supporting my point is half as important as attacking my opposition’s point.Poking holes in someone else’s argument or finding inconsistencies in their beliefs is far more effective than simply affirming my own subjective belief. This has permeated into every aspect of my life. For example, I no longer have the urge to crusade or pillage for a faith I cannot prove. It allows me to oppose abortion without blowing up an abortion clinic, thus ending more lives. Most importantly, I can talk with someone I disagree with and not become defensive or offended.So, for the time being, I will do my best to avoid supporting anything unless I fully agree with what I am supporting. On the recommendation of a friend, I eventually joined the group, “My Faith Can Handle the Golden Compass.”

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