Monday, August 20, 2007

When Good is Bad

This quote is from the site I mentioned in my previous post:
The most dangerous predators among us are ingeniously veiled. They carefully surround themselves with people entirely unlike themselves, that is, with deeply empathic human beings who wish to please others, who are slow to judge, who are excessively tolerant and who have an eye for the good to be found in others. They know how to exploit to their own advantage such character traits. It is their association with such people that maximizes their chances of perpetuating the facade and keeping themselves from exposure. "Narcissism & the Dynamics of Evil"
The underlining is mine. I want to focus your attention for a moment on the kind of good person, good qualities, and good intentions which are used to support and hide "the most dangerous predators". If good is used for the evil purposes of predators then good itself becomes dangerous. We really must make determined efforts to not allow good to be used as a cloak for evil, especially if that good resides in ourselves. We are responsible to others to make sure our good natures and qualities are not used by predators to get within striking distance of their victims.

A group of people who are admire and cultivate the qualities of being "deeply empathic", people pleasers, reluctant to judge, "excessively tolerant" and who choose to see only the good in others, are Christians. You do not have to be a Christian to value and hold these qualities, but as a group Christians tend to value and emphasize and reward these qualities. So I'm talking especially to Christians. I hope the rest of you stay tuned, because I'm still talking to you, too.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our idea of how "good" people should be if we are not discriminating enough to make sure our "good" is not used to facilitate evil. If the "good" qualities we boast of are used as weapons in the hands of a predator then our "good" is actually turned to evil. This is very serious business.

Let's consider for a moment the quality of "slow to judge". It is easy enough to imagine why a predatory narcissist would find these people very expedient to their ends if you pause to think even for a moment on it. The day of inevitable exposure of the narcissist is long postponed, perhaps forever, if the narcissist is able to surround himself with people who will suspend all judgment of the narcissist's behaviors and ascribe non-malevolent motives to the narcissist for his bad acts. When the day of exposure arrives, the narcissist has these ardent supporters who will protest with all the vehemence and conviction of their good souls that the narcissist is misunderstood and hastily misjudged. This makes it difficult for others to maintain their just assertions against the narcissist because the good reputations of the narcissist's supporters are now used to make the accuser look bad by contrast. It can be nearly impossible for a victim of a narcissist to press their claims when so-called good people form a protective ring around the evil-doer and divert the slings and arrows back to the victim. This behavior of the "good" people actually guarantees the narcissist will continue to have access to his or her victim as well as access to new victims in the future. If that isn't evil in itself, I do not know what is. If we do not exercise our frontal lobes, that is, our ability to judge between things, then we guarantee that evil will prosper in our presence.

Let's look again at the list of qualities that the predatory narcissist looks for in those he surrounds himself with:

deeply empathic
people pleasing
slow to judge
excessively tolerant
belief in the basic good of others

When we bestow these graces upon evil people we can safely state that these qualities become evil themselves. These qualities, by themselves, are neither good nor evil.

Chew on that for moment.

What determines whether or not they are good qualities is upon whom and in what circumstances we exercise them. This goes against what most good people believe. They see these qualities as unqualified virtues regardless. It is this kind of thinking the narcissist exploits.

The least virtuous of these qualities, in my opinion, is the extreme reluctance to judge. All the other qualities spring from this one. So I will state here that judging is absolutely necessary if we are going to avoid being used by evil people. The word judgmental has gotten an extremely bad rap over the years. The psychologizing of our society has led to this idea that everyone is basically good and that all forms of guilt are deleterious to individuals. This is because everyone is construed to be some form of victim, therefore they can't help how they behave. Pop psychology has done more to facilitate narcissists than any other modern philosophy. Pop psychology preaches that all the badly behaving person needs is a empathetic ear (i.e. talk therapy). Pop psychology relies on an extreme reluctance to judge any kind of behavior; it preaches that we must all be excessively tolerant of others; and underlying all of its dogma is the fundamental belief in the basic good of humanity. So, as you can see, Christians aren't the only ones prone to over-value (and misapply) the qualities listed above. In fact, Christians used to be a lot better at holding evil doers to account, but pop psychology has infiltrated Christian thought which means Christians and secularists are thinking very much alike on this. "Nice" is now the "virtue" a vast number of people are pursuing and competing to have ascribed to them. "Nice" now equals "good" in the minds of many. "Nice" people think it is not nice to hurt people's feelings. They bend over backwards to never hurt anyone's feelings. This, of course, is impossible to accomplish. Someone is always going to get their feelings hurt. Shouldn't we strive to make sure that if someone's feelings get hurt that it is the predatory ones among us who get clobbered and not their victims?

It is no small thing to let your goodness be exploited, used, and manipulated by predatory narcissists. Your good qualities are only good if they support good. All too often people fall for the notion that their eternal patience and determined belief in the good of all people will cause others to rise to the occasion. The narcissist will never rise to this occasion in the way you hope. They will only see opportunity for protective coloration by standing very close to you and letting your goodness hide their badness.

It is imperative for you, your family, and your social circle that you engage your rational powers and start discerning between good and evil. Discernment = judgment. Not a bad word. I have said before that "nice people suck". In this context, of how "nice" people often let themselves be used by evil people, I am speaking. There is a time for everything. Always being "nice" is a sign that you do not understand there is a time to not be "nice". There is a time to judge. A time to take an unpopular stand. A time to hold evil-doers to account no matter the cost to you. A time to protect the innocent and abused from those who have very successfully hidden their malignancy heretofore. A time for war.

Wisdom recognizes:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Eccl. 3:1-8

10 comments:

Jordie said...

Anna,

Thankyou for this, appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

I think its important for christians to understand the difference between what is currently acceptable in western church culture, and what the bible actually teaches us about how to deal with evil.

As a very young christian I remember being told that 'the word of God would not return void', or some such, I can't remember the exact phrase, but the upshot of this was the assumption that all 'good' that you did, whether to the deserving or the undeserving would eventually have its outworking, and something good would come of it. "All things work together for good" is another well used phrase. I have no problem with these verses, I have a problem with how they have been interpreted (or misinterpreted) and evolved over centuries to validate the idea that we should just put up with other people's crap. "Turn the other cheek" "go the extra mile" etc etc. I am completely convinced that as christians we have muffed the original meaning of many of these verses, and I have a real issue with applying verses which had a specific and limited context and turning them into sweeping generalities, especially when used to inform mindless zombie-like acceptance of the 'nice is better than honest' theology.

I see plenty of evidence that Jesus spoke the truth to the liars, had no time for manipulators, got away as fast as he could from 'groupthink' and put as much distance between the hostile unbeliever and himself as he could. He went out of his way to avoid useless debate and conflict, but never backed down from a direct attack (or even a veiled one sometimes). His words never failed to stop the abuser in his tracks. He wouldn't put up with manipulation from his mother or brothers, and even drew a line of distinction between those who obeyed him and those who didn't as being the ones he accepted as 'family'. The precedent is clear. Don't mess with two-faced poisoned-tongued evil doers, have mercy on the weak and helpless, help those who want it (he asked them sometimes to make sure), but wipe the dust off your feet from people who have no time for you. In other words brothers and sisters, if they're not into you, they're just not into you. Don't take that as some kind of freaky invitation to settle in and live the life of a co-dependent sado-masochist.

Jesus wouldn't have sweated it for one second if he had to openly denounce evil, yet his mercy and love to all were never diminished.

I read a quote the other day which I love "Who said Christianity doesn't work, it hasn't even been tried yet".

Anonymous said...

Turn the other cheek. Forgive and forget. That is what I was told. What if the world had turned the other cheek on Hitler?

There is a time to speak up against what is wrong. There is a time to fight back.

Anonymous said...

I just want to let you know that your blogs have helped me a great deal, and even though this is the first time I've commented, I am reading them. So have no doubt that your VERY insightful blogs are helping people like myself to overcome the narcissists in our lives.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow adult child of a narcissist, I concur with your comments and say THANK YOU! and AMEN!

gvnitall said...

KUDOS TO YOU, this is truly an answer to prayer, i have now validated to myself that it is ok to hate evil and my stepson is evil. His mother has even admitted to the differently titled story of our friends dilemma "satan lives upstairs" now if again through prayer and help from Holy Spirit inspired helpers like you i can figure out the next step....... God bless you, Take Care, Love -n- Prayers

jenny said...

"A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

There's the Bible telling us that there's a time to hate! That's from King Solomon, the wisest man ever born. So, if it's wise, then why can't we hate for "a time". Hate is such a horrible word, but I truly hate evil. I don't want anything to do with it.

Now on to this "nice" topic. Yes, being a nice Christian is where it's at in the Christian world. If you're not nice, well, you just don't fit in.

I am someone who is considered a "nice person". It was written repeatedly in my high school year books. I'd say for sure that they would still use that word to describe me now. Now I know why I'm such a magnet for the N's out there. I'm nice! Geesh. And to figure out now that my niceness has been used for evil. That is just so sad.

A few years back my mother-in-law said she was always surprised that I was friends with xyz as she wasn't a very nice person. I think at times my MIL thought I was capable of the things that my ex-friend did, because I was friends with her so I must have been like her, right? Makes sense to me. Well now I know that the N wanted me in their life because "it is their association with such people (nice people) that maximizes their chances of perpetuating the facade and keeping themselves from exposure."

Sometimes I wonder if I'm just nice to keep the peace and make sure everyone likes me. Not everyone likes me, but I keep trying to be nice. I think I need to change. I love strong women in movies who are not nice. They are good people, but I'd never call them nice. How do you go from being nice to being good? I have some thinking to do.....

I love what Jordie had to say on the subject. Everyone likes to think of Jesus as this nice guy, but he wasn't. He was good and he did do everything that Jordie said and more. Kudos Jordie!

Anna Valerious said...

Hi Jenny,

Being nice isn't an automatic condemnation. I am sure that I would be considered 'nice' by most people who meet me. But because I'm not governed by needing to be seen as nice by everyone I meet, I am willing to be perceived as NOT nice if the situation calls for it. Nice is only a problem when nice is all about our need to be seen in a non-condemnatory way. Then 'nice' is being cowardly. When nice is actually cowardice...then nice will consent to being evil's best friend. To follow Solomon's logic...there is time to be nice; a time to be 'mean'.

Yes, there is a time to hate. God Himself hates at times. I blog about that here if you haven't seen it.

http://tiny.cc/8cHCx

Anonymous said...

Have any of you read Martin Chuzzlewit? Charles Dickens captures a narcissistic character quite nicely in his story. His name is Pecksniff and along with the article when good is bad. Pecksniff portrays himself to the world as virtuous when in reality he is nothing but vice.

He has a student who is blind to his evil by the name of Mr. Pinch in fact Mr. Pinch is extremely kind and self sacrificing. So Mr. Pinch works for Mr. Pecksniff without complaint all the while some of his friends who see how easy Mr. Pinch is taken advantage of try to show him Mr. Pecksniff's true evil character.

I strongly recommend the book. When Pinch finally believes someone about the true Mr. Pecksniff the first thing he does is leave. A great book for us in similar situations. Unfortunately I am not nearly as good as Mr. Pinch but I hope with practice I can be.

Joan S said...

This is a good one. I got it in my head that I had to always be nice. Now, I'm going to practice my judgement. Its hard to figure out who is a narcissist in my life now. This will be something I will be doing.

Someone said something to me once that left me off balance once. This was before my awakening of MN abuse in my life. I met my husband's ex for the first time. She said to me, "I suppose you heard a lot of bad things about me". I reserved judgement at that point, sure I heard lots of bad things, but oh well, who doesn't after a breakup..

But the funny thing was, It was her first statement to me, and I was wondering what the heck, why would she say that, what was she thinking. But, going back to my first feeling about it, I was extremely uncomfortable. I'm sure it was said to me to just put me off balance, no other reason.

AnotherACON said...

Very good post (and comments), as usual.

The origins of the type of tolerance that is nowadays touted both in the Church and in the world are not Christian at all but humanistic, based on the Enlightenment (which was totally anti-Christian).

Is it a coincidence that church members are groomed to enable evildoers? I doubt it. Satan and his minions get a good laugh out of Christians being among their most loyal supporters.

At the same time Christians are encouraged to self-righteously judge everybody who drinks, cusses and doesn’t follow their other church rules. However, true discernment is banned. When you have something to hide, you cannot allow discernment (this goes particularly for leaders).

“When nice is actually cowardice...then nice will consent to being evil's best friend.” Very well put. Somewhere I’ve read that research has shown that evil people (they used another term) are more likely to be treated well by others than good people. The reason is that evil people retaliate when they aren’t treated the way they like it. When you stand up to them they will make you pay. Therefore the current injunction to make nice with evildoers serves as a welcome excuse for throwing victims under the bus.