Are Nice People More Susceptible?


I was reading an interesting, though jargonistic and rather puffed piece yesterday on pseudo-realities, and how they are created and maintained. Since we live in an age where people believe all sorts of unreal things, I thought it would be useful. Alas, since "unreality" and "reality" were never given boundaries in the essay, even those who believe unreal things could read it and still feel fine about themselves.

However, there were a few things said that really resonated with me. I want to focus on this sentence today: "The nicer, more tolerant, and more charitable a community is, supposing it lacks the capacity to spot these counterfeits early on, the more susceptible its members will tend to be to these manipulations." The manipulations being referred to are those used by the purveyors of pseudo-realities.

Remembering that Utah is supposedly the #1 state in the union for fraud and scams, with no other state even coming close, I felt a twinge when I read that. I also remember all the bizarre offshoot cults I saw formed year after year in Utah: in a SquareTwo essay, I examined my own experience where my visiting teaching companion and her husband went off to join the polygamous Manti cult back in the 1990s. Fortunately, she eventually wised up and write an acidly funny book about her experience, which I highly recommend, called, "It's Not About the Sex," My Ass.

Is it possible that the niceness, the charitableness, the tolerance of my faith community leaves it open to be seduced by unreality? Of course, someone not of our faith would suggest that our faith itself is what leaves us so open. However, since I know the Restored Gospel to be true, I wonder if it is not these other attributes that we try to cultivate in order to be more Christ-like, as we suppose.

Of course Christ was nice, charitable, and tolerant. He ate with publicans and talked to adulteresses with kindness, for goodness sake! But we do not imagine that Christ could ever be duped by unreality. There must be something we are not catching in all of this.

Is it possible that niceness, charitableness, and tolerance take on a very different cast when they emanate from a firm grip on reality than from a desire to be agreeable and not cause waves? Indeed, isn't it true that those in Jesus' time who did not accept His reality thought him not-nice, not-charitable, and not-tolerant? In fact, so much so that a number of disciples dropped him, and other persons hated him so much they killed him?

When you have a firm grip on Reality, it seems to me that on many things you are simply immovable. You can be nice about being immovable, you can be tolerant of those who don't wish to move from their own position towards yours, and you can love them with charity and hope they will move towards Reality. But your immovability may be processed by those who wish you to move to be irksome, even provocative.

How, then, to explain our faith community's susceptibility to pseudo-reality? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.