JESSE IS TALKING TO MARY about religion.
Mary knows a lot about Darwinism, and Jesse is a born-again Christian.
Jesse is talking about God and the Bible, and Mary is doing what
she normally does: she draws him out, allowing him to express
himself, without giving any indication that she might disagree.
After years of avoiding conflict, she has learned to see things
from other peoples' points of view. She has learned to understand
how they could see things that way. She is tolerant and nonjudgmental.
It is in some ways an admirable trait.
But in this case, it is causing her some
stress. Jesse is pretty aggressive, and he is actively trying
to convert her and Jesse interprets Mary's politeness as "amenable
to conversion." Unfortunately for Jesse, Mary just realized
that very morning that her passivity is sometimes bad for her
stress level. She realized she needs to speak up more and be
a little more persuasive in some circumstances, and she realizes
this is one of those circumstances.
After the third time Jesse asked Mary to
go to church with him next Sunday, and after Mary had already
tried politely getting out of it, she finally decided to stop
being the victim and start doing some persuading herself.
To stop being the victim, choose a goal.
If you don't have something you are trying to accomplish,
you become a supportive actor in someone else's play. Choose
a goal. Mary decided her goal for this conversation was to try
to convert Jesse to Darwinism. "I'm not going to go to church
with you, Jesse," she said, "I don't believe in the
Bible and I'm not interested. I think the Bible is an interesting
and maybe even valuable collection of stories, but I think it's
kind of silly to say it is the verbatim transcription of the
Creator of the universe."
Jesse looked shocked. He didn't say anything.
So Mary continued, "Look, I don't even know if there is
a Creator. I'm more scientific than you, Jesse. I'm not saying
you're wrong, because, who knows, really? But I'm saying that
if I don't know, then I don't see what's wrong with just admitting
I don't know. Why would I want to try to believe something I
think is silly?"
Jesse saw his opportunity and jumped on
it. "Faith is how you find God, Mary. That's how you do
it. By believing." Jesse is very aggressive in his communication.
He has no problem pushing his point of view on other people.
Mary is right to challenge him. People like that are a kind of
mental bully. They spread their points of view to far more people
than their points of view usually deserve.
Mary didn't stop there. Now being released
from her prison of avoiding confrontations, she was actually
finding this more invigorating and relaxing than politely listening
to what she considers to be rubbish. "I don't buy it,"
she said. "It sounds like bunk to me, like hucksterism.
What's the difference between what you're saying and a con-man
saying to me if I only believe in him enough, I can make a lot
Mary stopped being a victim in this conversation
by choosing a goal, not by willing herself to stop being a victim,
not by feeling bad she was a victim, not by thinking bad thoughts
about Jesse, but by choosing a goal. Rather than allowing
Jesse's agenda to dominate, she chose a goal and got busy actively
working toward it. This is a good idea to do sometimes because
some people are very aggressive in their communication; they
don't try to be fair, they try to take advantage, and you need
to treat them differently than you would treat a fair person.
Otherwise, you will be controlled; you will become a victim.
Becoming a victim is stress-producing. The way out is to switch
from being an effect to being a cause and how you do that is
by choosing a goal and putting yourself full-bore into reaching
To stop being a victim, choose