One of the reasons why I like reading Dreher so much is that he’s an endless source for interesting links, book recommendations and the like. This time, it’s an essay by Serena Sigillito on how minds really are changed on all the sensitive issues we like to argue so much about:
Focusing only on large-scale statistical measures of political convictions (or unscientific polls like Voris’s) can obscure the fact that, when it comes down to the essentials, what you’re really dealing with is individual human beings, with their own intellectual backgrounds, emotional attachments, personal histories, and—most importantly—souls.
Coming to comprehend truth intellectually takes time and effort. But even once that comprehension has been established, other barriers to acceptance often remain. Mustering the strength to make concrete, repeated, public choices to live in accordance with the truths one has accepted—especially truths as countercultural as opposing birth control or gay marriage—takes even more time.
The same applies to the other side as well.
There’s a tendency to think that if you’re loud and shrill enough, you can shame your opponent into changing their minds or at least shutting their traps. I’ve been fortunate enough to see this primarily on the internet/media as opposed to my day-to-day life, but it’s still there.
There is a difference between speaking the truth uncompromisingly, and being a jerk about it. If you want someone to drink bitter medicine and do a complete 180 on their lives, there needs to be some trust and mutual respect. If you’re just a scold, don’t be surprised if people won’t listen to you. St. Paul could be harsh when necessary, but it is always clear in his letters that it flows from a paternal love for those he is correcting, and he is always at least as hard on himself. More:
If you’ve read my own conversion story, you know that it was a bit of a lonesome one. But still, essential to it was my being able to see in the Church a vision of how life could be lived which surpassed anything else I had known, and which answered to longings I did not until then entirely understand. Only when I had gotten a glimpse of that was I really at a point where I felt I could change my life. In order to be able to see that it is possible, you need to be able to see the love that makes it possible.