An Important Difference Between You and Your Friends

Saturday

Sometimes when you talk to people about Islam, you are flabbergasted at the depth of their ignorance. But even after they know something about Islam and accept it, sometimes you are appalled at their seeming apathy about it. Why don't they jump in and want to do something about it? Are they stupid? Are they uncaring? What is wrong with these people!?

I believe we have discovered an important difference between those of us in the counterislamization movement and those who have not joined the fight: We are seeking two different kinds of happiness.

One kind of happiness is temporary and, from our point of view, superficial: Pleasure and comfort. To pursue this kind of happiness, you pay a lot of attention to how you feel, what you want, how nice your clothes are, how tasty your food is, how comfortable your car is to drive (or how it makes you feel to own it), etc. When you overhear conversations among these people, don't you sometimes want to say, "What's the matter with you people? Don't you know there's a war on! Right now innocent people are being beheaded! Who cares about a new restaurant!?"

If you can relate to that unspoken sentiment, you probably care more about the other kind of happiness — a kind of happiness that is long-lasting and profound: Meaning. Most of us in the counterislamization movement gain happiness by working for a cause outside of our own skin. Helping other people. Living a life of meaning and purpose. Doing something that matters. The happiness this gives is a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction. Not comfort. Not pleasure.

Here's why this distinction is important for our purposes: When you talk to people about Islam — people who are not meaning-oriented — what you are presenting is discomfort. They want to turn away. It does not make them happy. And learning more about it will make them even less happy.

I think that's why I've had so much success educating people in personal conversations about Islam lately: A while back I switched from trying to recruit them into the cause and started focusing on just informing them, but doing it in way that "entertains" them (or at least interests them and preferably surprises and fascinates them). People with a pleasure-comfort orientation don't mind being entertained and interested and fascinated. And the information still sinks in. And when it comes time to vote or choose or decide, they will be more informed and will make saner choices.

I don't think we need to try to recruit people. I think we only need to inform people. And those who are like us — people who care about meaning and purpose, people who want to be profoundly happy and fulfilled by serving a cause — will come forward on their own. They will seek out more information. They will feel called to action.

Think about this as you talk to people. The person you're talking to might derive their happiness primarily from pleasure and comfort. Talking to them angrily about a frightening reality might not get through to them. Trying to wake them up by showing them a video of mass beheadings will make them not ever want to talk to you again.

For these people, and they are the majority, a different approach is needed. With an entertaining or interesting or even fascinating approach, they won't shut you out and solid information has a chance to sink in.

We have tools here to help you change the nature of your conversations. And you can read some of the conversations I've had here to see some of the things I've tried. And if you have stories of your own, I encourage you to share them with all of us at Talk About Islam Among Non-Muslims.

1 comments:

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

I try to approach the subject by story telling, especially historical story telling, through past events and art history. Many people are interested in history but don't know much about it so they are open to listening. This way they don't feel threatened or uncomfortable

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