Moving Away from Cancel Culture toward Connection

Last time I talked about how we do have some commonality with people who may have a different worldview than ours. Today I want to look at how we can navigate a potentially combative conversation to come to some sort of agreement, maybe even win the other person over to our point of view.

As Phillip astutely pointed out in the comments from my last post, we’ve lost the art of civil conversation. We don’t seem to know how to talk to someone who disagrees with us anymore. Social media has made it worse with their algorithms that funnel us all into our confirmation bias echo chambers. Now, it seems a whole section of society that cannot tolerate dissention from the narrative they feed on, which is where we get cancel culture.

But, according to Dr. Jeff Meyers, President of Summit Ministries, it is possible to navigate these hostile waters and actually have some useful conversation. I’ve included a video interview where he talks about this below.

Here’s how Dr. Meyers describes the origins of “cancel culture”:

“Cancel culture goes back to a Marxist worldview. Victor Sebestyen, one of Vladimir Lenin’s biographers, said that Lenin perfected the art of using name calling and shame, not to to try to gain an advantage but to eliminate all alternative voices.”

Meyers says that, typically, there are two types of people in a disagreement: one is the avoider“You have your truth, I have my truth, we just have to agree to disagree.” The other is the aggressor. They are waiting for that mic-drop moment to shut you up and win the argument. Their goal is to shame the other person into submission.

While it’s logically incoherent to claim that there is no objective truth, we can agree that how we perceive truth may be multi-faceted. As it’s been postulated, we may just be viewing the same elephant from a different side of his enormous body.

Meyers tells his students to stop looking at disagreement one-dimensionally, like a head-on conflict, but start looking at it two-dimensionally, where two people are moving forward together in search of the truth.

He says to think of it like a triangle. At the top is the word, “Advocate” because we both should want to be advocates for the truth, and be advocates for the other person. I’ve created this diagram to illustrate the way I see this working.

Conflict is not fighting against each other in a Christian worldview, but walking together to fully understand and communicate, until we both arrive at the truth.

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20 NIV)

While, admittedly, this can be a difficult endeavor in today’s polarized society, Meyers says it is possible if we will move away from attacking the other person’s position to asking questions, like “What do you mean by (accusation)?” Or, “How do you know that is true?”

Finding commonality as advocates instead of  seeing every issue as “us vs. them” doesn’t mean we don’t challenge views we believe to be unfair or wrong. Meyers encourages us to push back on inaccurate labels.

For instance, being accused of being guilty of anarchy and violence by association is a category mistake. We can push back on this logical fallacy by asking the question when accused, “Do you think that’s the whole story?”

For example, it doesn’t logically follow that 100 people foolishly storming the Capitol on January 6th represents 75 million Trump supporters. It’s up to the person making the accusation to prove the connection between being a Trump supporter of anarchy and violence. And they know they can’t do it, so they rely on a lot of name calling to substitute for argument.

Meyers also talks about how detrimental social media and the more recent social-distancing restrictions have been to achieving real connection and clear communication.

When you consider Albert Mehrabian’s famous 1967 study on communication, showing that 55% of our communication is through our posture and facial expression, 38% is through our tone of voice, and only 7% is through our words, you’re virtually guaranteed to have miscommunication if you’re only communicating through a facial mask or Twitter!

This is why Meyers recommends getting off social media and having coffee with someone you disagree with and talking about it, face to face, so that you can share your viewpoints and ask to hear theirs.

He also talks about other Marxist strategies that have infiltrated societal thinking in the video below. Dr. Meyers does a good job explaining what we’re up against in the world of cancel culture and gives some good advice to how to position ourselves for more effective communication.

While it’s not an easy task, it is worth considering if we want to be a positive influence on our society and stay connected with those we love who may have a different point of view than us. After all, we are called to be salt and light in this world.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matt.5:13-15 NIV)

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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15 Responses to Moving Away from Cancel Culture toward Connection

  1. LightWriters says:

    I work in an environment where political correctness is a culprit behind the scenes of ‘cancel culture’ thinking. It sparks the divisiveness you’re talking about, and incites negativity and ‘grooming’ of the cancel culture mindset. In a recent workshop I attended a clinical psychologist facilitating the session used all the common buzzwords to stir up division instead of unity. The session seemed to be aimed at ‘indoctrinating’ listeners with ‘cancel culture’ and anti-white rhetoric, similar to what we hear over and over again from mainstream media. It was encouraging to hear several participants exercise critical thinking skills and speak Truth to ‘power’ as they politely but firmly challenged the facilitator on her approach. Most of all I thank God that His great love never fails. Caring for our neighbours still wins against all forms of manipulation, subterfuge, hate, and lies…and always will.

    • Mel Wild says:

      The divisiveness of cancel culture is by design. Many people only think of Marxism as socialist or communist governments, but it’s much more pervasive in our culture. At its core, Marxist ideology is about creating struggle and tearing down the traditional system. So, cancel culture, political correctness, postmodernism, critical race theory, intersectionality, identity politics are all the divisive fruit of Marxism. Just replace class warfare with race or gender; it’s all the same thing. And it’s been in the West for a long time. This ideology crept into our universities in the 1970’s through the influence of people like Neo-Marxist French philosophers, Derrida and Foucault. So, it’s not surprising that psychologists have been trained in things like critical race theory disguised as diversity training. All of this is the very opposite of Christ’s teaching and very racist. It’s certainly the opposite of Martin Luther King, who fought racism with a Christian worldview. At the very core of Marx’s teaching was that there is no God and the family structure has to go. As long as our culture embraces these offshoots of Marxist ideology, we will always have great division.

      And you’re absolutely right, love wins out over all of this manipulation and hatred!

      • LightWriters says:

        Thank you for this explanation. In other words it seems clear to me that Marxist ideology is actually a godless anti-Christ ‘religion’ — it sounds exactly like the system described by the Apostle John in Revelation 13.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, Marxist ideology, and all of its offshoots, are most definitely anti-Christ is every way. Again, it intentionally separates people from each other–by class, race, gender, all by design in order to create constant struggle. This is Marxism at its very core. People who naively think socialism is like Christianity don’t understand the true nature of socialism at all. The two are quite opposites. With socialism and communism, for instance, you must put your trust, security, provision and care into the hands of the state, so having allegiance to Christ is seen as a threat to this hivemind structure. Peace and unity means compliance in Marxist ideology. And if you don’t comply you’re canceled….or worse. This is why the first thing Communist and Socialist regimes do is suppress or outlaw religion. Their system doesn’t work in an environment where there are strong Christian values and freedom is a high value (of course, I would argue it doesn’t work either way!)

          The welfare system in America is another example of socialism. It was well-meaning but misguided, now proven to have created even more poverty while destroying the family structure in poor neighborhoods. This welfare system makes it more beneficial for the mother in poverty to be single, so the state becomes your provider and father to your children, which has created havoc in poor families by creating massive fatherlessness. And we know that a male growing up without a father in these poor neighborhoods are far more likely to commit crimes and fall through the cracks in society than one who was raised with a father. Even President Obama said this was the main factor for their failure.

          But Marxists (like the BLM organization) want to destroy the nuclear family structure because it’s a threat to the socialist state. They want to go further because our Western culture must first be destroyed so a new socialist state structure can be built. That’s why you see signs from Antifa riots that say everything must be burned, torn down. They may not even be aware of this themselves, but that’s Marxism 101. Much of the freedoms we take for granted in the West came from Judeo-Christian value…rule of law, individual freedoms and intrinsic rights, etc., but these values are diametrically opposed to Marxist values. The biggest threat to Western civilization is not war with a foreign power, or even liberals, but the progressive infiltration of Marxist ideology into our culture. It’s like a cancer that spreads and poisons everything it touches. Of course, the biggest threat to Marxism are Christian values! But until people wake up to this, we’ll just continue to be like frogs slowly cooked in the proverbial kettle. At least, those who say they follow Christ should not be so blind and naïve.

  2. Good stuff, Mel! We need to embrace healthy conflict, make space for it, accept it as an important part of life. Just because I disagree with you, doesn’t mean I don’t love you anymore.

    Really good point in the video about how even the very concept of dialogue itself is being canceled.

    Trying to relate to people on the level of “needs” is really helpful, too. I’m often working in customer service somewhere and the whole goal is pretty much to identify people’s underlying emotional needs. Laughing here but there is a popular saying, “the customer is always right.” Don’t tell anyone, but actually, No! 95% of the time they are dead wrong, but they have needs that need to be heard and addressed.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, we need healthy opposing views in order to be better people. That’s why God made marriage! We need our spouse to tell us we’re full of it sometimes. 🙂

      I agree on your point about dialogue itself being canceled. Everything that does not comply with the narrative is called “racist.” They’ve totally evacuated the word of any meaning. Welcome to the age of incoherent speech!

      On your customer service point, you’re absolutely right. As it’s been said, in the long run, the crowd is always wrong. It’s one observation Nietzsche made about herd mentality that I have to agree with, that people are like cattle. Although, I would say we’re more like sheep, mindlessly following the herd, always in danger of being picked off by wolves. Probably why Jesus used the sheep metaphor rather than cattle.

  3. Steve Sawyer says:

    Great food for thinking through

  4. Pingback: Having difficult conversations with the “other side” | In My Father's House

  5. Pingback: Moving Away from Cancel Culture toward Connection – Jesus Alone

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this informative article! I am reposting this to thelordalone.com and I have followed your blog. I look forward to reading more from you!

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