THIS IS a compilation of several previous articles on CitizenWarrior.com about how to influence people you know, and how to educate them about Islam's relentless push for Sharia law.
Because you're interested in Islam and have the courage and commitment to learn about it, you have a responsibility to your teammates (the other members of your country) to tell them what you know, and to be able to talk to them in a way that's informative and persuasive.
This is at least partly a war of ideas, and in that war, YOU, the citizen, are on the front line. Educating people you know, or changing their opinions, will make a difference.
1. Study the art of influence.
Some excellent and useful books have been written on the art of influence. One of the best was written more than seventy years ago: How to Win Friends & Influence People. If you've already got a copy, re-read the section entitled, How To Change People Without Giving Offense Or Arousing Resentment. Very helpful for our purposes.
Another great book is called, How to Win an Argument: Surefire Strategies for Getting Your Point Across. It has some simple, practical principles you can start using right away. The book is not about becoming a sarcastic, arrogant, or annoying jerk. It is very hard to win an argument that way, and almost impossible to change someone's mind using those kinds of methods. This book has better ways and some good insights about the persuasive process.
To persuade or educate, you first have to be in a conversation with someone. If you aren't very good at starting and maintaining a conversation, Larry King's book, How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication is excellent. Becoming a good conversationalist, strangely enough, is one of the most important tasks a citizen warrior can master.
I can't reiterate enough: This is a war of memes, the stakes are extremely high, and you are on the front line.
2. Share DVDs with your friends.
When you find a good one, get a couple extra copies. Then let your friends know you saw a really good DVD. If they show any openness or interest, offer to loan them your copy.
Books contain more information, but people are usually more open to the idea of watching a DVD than reading a book. A book is a considerably bigger investment of time.
This is an easy and comfortable way of introducing important information to people you know. Even a good friend might not be willing to listen to you talk nonstop for an hour, educating him on Islam's relentless push for Sharia law, but he might be willing to watch a DVD. And the producers of a DVD have the funds to hire authorities in their fields to share what they know, lending the DVD an influencing power far beyond what you could accomplish in a conversation.
Use this tool actively: This is a practical mission you could accomplish to help defeat the third jihad.
We've got a growing list of DVDs to recommend. Check them out: Recommended DVDs.
3. Develop your persuasion skills.
You can do so much good by learning how to persuade people. You can persuade people to cure their feelings of demoralization and lower their anxiety. You can persuade them to become active rather than passive in the war on terror.
Influence by people like you is what is needed and wanted.
But influencing people requires skill. Persuasion is difficult sometimes, even when your intentions are good. People are prone to feel defensive if they think you disapprove of them, or if you try to persuade too heavy-handedly.
So below we have a list of links that take you to material you can study and practice to improve your ability to influence people. This is an important mission. World events, as shocking as it seems, issue from human opinions, and those can be changed or not depending on very human feelings such as being offended, losing face, and personal pride.
The skills of diplomacy and persuasion are some of the most important abilities you can develop in the war on terror. Skillfulness with people can make you extraordinarily influential.
The best resource for persuasion is How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It is available at any bookstore. It has been around for over 70 years, and it's still on the shelves, for good reason.
When you practice the principles, don't try to do them all at once. Work on one skill at a time. Take one principle (for example, Give honest and sincere appreciation) and concentrate on that one for a couple days. Master it. Then take another principle and do the same.
Always curb your desire to overstate your case. If you err, err toward understatement. As anti-intuitive as it seems, you are more persuasive when you are calm and conservative in your statements than you are when you get emotional or exaggerate. Les Giblins, in his book, How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People (another great book), wrote:
"In one experiment, the researchers put together three 15-minute talks on dental hygiene. For one group of students, the researchers emphasized the threat of not following the guidelines: cancer, tooth decay, gum diseases, etc.
"The second group received a milder form of the same thing — facts mixed with what might happen if care was not taken with their teeth.
"The third group just heard information without any scare tactics.
"One week later, in a follow-up test, the researchers discovered that the more scare tactics were used, the less the students changed their behavior."
These books are also available as audiobooks, and that's probably the best form if you do a lot of driving. Getting the steady coaching with real life in between, and listening to it many times is probably the best way to improve your skill.
And here is a tip from Benjamin Franklin, a man with a proven record of persuasiveness:
The way to convince another is to state your case moderately and accurately. Then say that of course you may be mistaken about it; which causes your listener to receive what you have to say, and, like as not, turn about and convince you of it, since you are in doubt. But if you go at him in a tone of positiveness and arrogance you only make an opponent out of him.
4. Share information you find online.
The internet has made sharing information so easy. Use it. But don't inundate people with email. Use it sparingly, only send really good stuff, and try to send something that the person would accept and read. In other words, if you know they don't like religious or redneck material, send them information without that element.
Another way to influence your friends in a really low-key way is to put bylines or signatures into the bottom of your normal email messages. Write signatures that promote citizenwarrior.com (see some examples here) or any other good source of information. Make it small and unobtrusive.
5. Think of this as a "war of memes."
A meme is anything that can be copied from one mind to another. An idea is a meme. A melody is a meme. The custom of shaking hands when you meet is a meme. The word "meme" is a meme and it has just been copied from my mind to yours (if it wasn't there already). Read more about memes here.
What do memes have to do with Islam's relentless push for Sharia law or terrorism? The most dangerous and widespread kind of terrorism on the planet is Islamic terrorism. The memetic source of Islamic terrorism is a collection of memes called the Koran. Muslims believe the Koran is the word of Allah. They believe this because it says so in the Koran. It also says a good Muslim must make continual war on unbelievers until the entire world is Islamic. Quite a few memes within the Koran enhance and support this premise, and those who follow its teachings to the letter are a threat to freedom and democracy everywhere.
But memes outside the Koran also help Islamic supremacists — memes that exist in non-Muslim minds. For example, the widespread belief that Islam is a religion of peace diverts effort and attention away from the real source of the problem and toward things that will not solve the problem. That's where you come in.
If you will help us spread the word about the Koran, international attention can eventually be turned to solving the real problem.
But when you do this, you will get resistance. People will argue with you. An argument is a battle of memes and I want to help you win these battles. I'm not talking about arguing with Muslims about their faith. That would be a waste of your time because the memeplex itself has its own protection, its own "memetic immune system."
But the people you know who are not Muslims and live in a free society probably think Islam is a religion of peace. And they don't know much about Islam. What you can do is learn about it (start here) and then tell others about it, and sometimes they will argue with you. Then you can use the principles below.
So here are some rules of engagement that will help us win the long-term war of memes:
a) Don't argue. Don't even think of it as argument. What you're doing is trying to persuade. The responses you think of when you're arguing are sharp and hurtful and belittling. When you persuade, you'll avoid those and try to win the person over with the good sense you're making, and the kindness and clear-headedness with which you're making it. That's very different and much more effective. One of the reasons people don't like to discuss things with conflicting opinions is that they argue. Arguing tends to be upsetting. Persuasion, on the other hand, is fun if you're doing it right. Fun for both of you. Read more about the fine art of persuading others here.
b) Use facts. Give your sources. Memorize key facts so you can quote them and say where you got those facts. Facts are the most important weapon in your arsenal. A good way to memorize facts is to mark the pages with little post-it notes as you read (or copy and paste if you're reading online). Then record those passages onto a cassette tape or digital recorder, and listen to it while you drive. When you've listened to something six or seven times, you will be able to bring the exact facts to a discussion with confidence. You could also find a good book on audio and listen to that. I recommend Robert Spencer's Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.
c) Remain calm. Cultivate calmness and tranquility. When you find yourself getting fired up, remember this is not an argument. You are persuading, and you can't force acceptance of your ideas. Information and ideas have to be willingly accepted by people. And they are more swayed by calm understatement than intensity and overstatement. In order to truly stay calm, it helps to be calm in your life, not just in the moment. Read more about becoming a calm person here. When you're calm, you're more persuasive.
d). Good conduct. Use social grace. Good manners. Conduct yourself with class. It is more persuasive.
e) Know what meme you want them to accept. People throw in all kinds of sidetracks and diversions into conversations. Keep clear on one or two simple memes you want them to accept and stay on course.
f) Build concessions slowly, piece by piece. Take smaller parts of the meme that they don't agree with, and convince them with facts that the new understanding is better than the old. Build up these concessions until you can get them to accept the meme you're aiming for. The first concession is your source of facts. Say where you got them and get the other's agreement that your sources are legitimate and authoritative. Just because you're accurate and well-informed doesn't mean people will automatically accept what you say. But if you do it with skill, they will.
g) Be specific. Define your terms. Use specific facts and argue specific points. This will make it much easier to stay on track and get partial concessions.
h) Tell them your story. When they say they disagree, simply tell them that you once believed as they do (if this is true and it probably is), and that you slowly and with skepticism were convinced by the facts to change your point of view. This kind of story is very persuasive and prevents you from accidentally making them feel like a fool for not already believing as you do.
i) Be humble. Make it clear you know you don't know it all. Insults or sharp rebukes — or anything that seems to imply that "I know it all and you are grossly uneducated" — has no place in persuasion. It puts emotion up as a defense so new memes cannot can get through. It causes hatred, one-sidedness, and self-righteousness.
j) Work on one point at a time. Ask, "Can we agree on this point?"
k) Concede those points you agree with. Make it perfectly clear you agree with those points. There is a kind of give-and-take in discussions, and a kind of commerce or reciprocity. If you are willing to concede legitimate points they make and say so, they are more willing to concede legitimate points you make and say so, and so your conversation can get somewhere.
6. Make whatever difference you can, one conversation at a time.
"I don't think you understand what's going on," I said rather undiplomatically to an acquaintance who muttered, "It's a dumb war. All the Iraq war has done is make al Qaeda angrier." I couldn't help but set her straight. "It doesn't matter what we do," I said. "We could pull every troop out of the entire Middle East, and send them ten billion dollars as an apology, and they would still want to destroy us."
She looked like she was going to say something, but I was on a roll. "There is a very dedicated group of believers who want to follow the Koran to the letter," I said, "which means they feel it is their moral duty to make war on unbelievers until the whole world submits to Islam. They don't just hate the West. They hate moderate Muslims even more. They consider a Muslim who wants democracy to be an 'apostate,' and the punishment for that is death."
"What's an apostate," she asked.
"Someone who has renounced Islam. Once you are a Muslim, you cannot get out. If you try, you are an apostate."
"What's that got to do with wanting a democracy?"
"That's one thing a lot of people don't realize," I said, "Islam is a complete system. It is a religion, in the sense that we think, but it is also a system of law and government, and that's an important part of the religion. An Islamic government and laws help enforce Islamic behavior. A democracy is a 'man-made' government, and that is strictly against Islamic law. The government must be made by Allah, and must enforce the dress codes and lack of women's rights, etc."
She was quiet. And I didn't really know where to go from there. So I tried to conclude: "Something must be done. This group of Koran-thumping fundamentalists want to give us a choice: Submit to Islam or die. They are not interested in any other option, and they will not stop. They are totally committed to their cause. It seems to be a very wise and noble task to try to help the majority of modern-thinking Muslims create a democracy, and to help defend the fledgling government from the fanatics until that government can defend itself. If we can do that, everyone but al Qaeda will be better off."
I was glad for the opportunity to present to this acquaintance a point of view she has probably never heard. From the look on her face, I could tell I gave her food for thought. More of these kinds of conversations need to happen all over the free world. Maybe you could instigate one of these conversations today by forwarding someone this email or saying something, even a little, when you hear someone spouting the opinion of the biased mainstream media. Get one of those conversations started and see how well you do. Learn from your mistakes and successes and try again tomorrow.
We can change opinions one conversation at a time. And we had better.
7. Think of changing someone's opinion as a campaign.
In other words, don't try to drastically change someone's point of view in one conversation. Change their opinion over time. Plant seeds. Think in terms of small bits and long campaigns. Introduce a little doubt in their own point of view. Give them a fact or two and give them time to digest that and readjust their way of thinking.
I don't know how many times I have disagreed with someone, but made a good point, only to hear them (some time later) telling someone else the point I was making as they came up with it.
That's okay with me. I want them to take the ideas as their own. I don't need to take "credit." I want the result: I want my teammates to be resistant to invasion (however sneaky it may be) by orthodox Muslims.
Keep learning. Think of every conversation as practice. And when you find something that works that isn't included here, or if you can share your experiences of influencing people here (on the comments) so others can learn from your experience, we would all appreciate it.
In the meantime, review these ideas once in awhile and keep improving your ability to influence the opinions of others. It's one of the best things you can do to help defeat Islam's relentless push for Sharia law.