Overboard Evangelizing & Button Pushing

I was in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park on a recent Saturday enjoying the cool weather before the rains come. I found a delightful spot just under tree branches for my blanket where I could enjoy my book while taking time to take in all the joy on display in front of me.

The Laos festival was taking place in the event space, so I walked over to grab food and bring it back. Delightful!

My park departure was a miniature play of my years in Oklahoma.

  • There was a guitarist playing & signing hymns
  • There was a duo playing Christian music
  • There were people handing out Christian pamphlets
  • There were friendly looking evangelicals on hand & ready to convert

The biggest similarity to my time in Oklahoma was the confrontation.

NOTE: Your Faith is yours. I don’t have the monopoly on wisdom or enlightenment or whatnot. If Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Buddhism or whatever is your jam & helps you be a better person in and out of your community works for you, then that’s good for you. I don’t care, in so far as that is your journey. Don’t try to make it mine.

Here is where I get irritated: one of the Christian folks handing out fliers opted to engage with me. To be clear, I had headphones in my ears and moved to the other side of the space to avoid this dude. He left his station to come talk at, not to, me.

It did not go well, for either of us. I am disappointed that I was not able to maintain my composure while the other fellow was losing his. Since then I’ve lost my patience a few more times in scenarios where I would normally not have a problem. I’ll get my rationality back under me, but I don’t like how easily or for how long I lost it.

Back in the day I had a director who reveled in pushing peoples’ buttons – especially mine. By “pushing buttons” I mean saying things in a way to elicit a strong reaction regardless of the speaker’s own thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. The undisciplined respond in predictable ways. The disciplined don’t, and use the opportunity to learn something about themselves and the speaker.

It goes back to the idea that emotion and belief, in the absence of reason and logic, is powerful to the point of blindness but only useful in one direction. For example, someone who is fanatically against abortion will not be a good advocate for gun ownership or the death penalty. This is not because the they would seem mutually exclusive. It is because a true partisan toward one will not have the energy to devote to the others.

In my former director’s use, it was about finding the blind spots and better fleshing out rational arguments. Ultimately we had to convince business and finance people about the value of IT and Security in a time when there was much less visibility on the latter and IT was seen as a money pit. That, and he liked doing it, especially when we knew he was doing it and yet we easily fell into the trap.

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