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November 5th, 2018
While the concept of Exorcism is primarily a religious concept, it is sometimes appropriated and used in secular contexts with regards to ideas or behaviors.
The concept of exorcism starts with a supposition that some kind of undesirable entity exists inside an otherwise respectable person that is theoretically deserving of care.
Rooting out this undesirable entity is the whole shebang, but what if the undesirable entity is not a quote ‘thing’ that is tangible enough to be moved around and potentially out of a person?
When, for example, we find ourselves arguing with someone who seems particularly stubborn on some point, we may develop a perspective that fits well with the concept of exorcism. We determine that some stop-gate exists within this stubborn person that we must find and break in order to help this person realize the mistake of their opinion or perspective.
The default and predominate method here is a kind of brute force argument: we will try to show blatantly and bluntly exactly how someone’s perspective is ‘wrong’. We list the reasons in often stark contrast and difference to the perspective of the opposition. But anyone who has tried to crack a safe through a brute force method – and the number of such people is or should be essentially zero – it can take an ungodly amount of time to finally stumble across the correct combination.
What would a successful thief actually do with such a safe? Brute force not only takes a long time, but it’s boring and inefficient compared to the possible alternative strategies that exist.
The successful thief listens very carefully, perhaps putting an ear against the door of the safe, or the thief finds some other way to get some feedback from the safe as she interacts with it. Perhaps she feels very closely for variations in the force required to turn the number knob. Regardless, the effort here is to first learn something very deep and intimate about the internal workings of the safe.
An unwise thief could blithely try a few combinations, get angry and simply try to rip the door open by hand, but this seems particularly unwise considering it’s exactly what the construction of a safe is designed to withstand.
No, the wise thief seeks to understand how the safe works from the inside out. And this first starts with gathering information, either though a keen ear or touch. The wise thief knows that if she simply understands how it is functioning on the inside, then using the limited influence she has on those internal workings, she can manipulate the system to naturally change in accord to her desires without any tactics that are quintessentially damaging to the system. A safe after all is also primarily designed to open, albeit only with the right conditions.
What would we change about our own behavior and our own tactics regarding other stubborn people if we keep in mind the thief who diligently takes the time to learn about the safe she seeks to open?
We’d do well to first listen instead of speak. By doing so we can learn a little bit more about how a person works and how such a person thinks. With an expansive and open mind, we begin to model their internal world within ourselves. It’s like painting a picture of a landscape based on what someone says. If we spend the whole time talking ourselves, our painting will turn out wildly inaccurate because we have inhibited the flow of information we need to make a good painting. But if we listen carefully and ask questions that seek to improve our understanding of the environment we hope to change for the better, like asking.. how exactly far is the tree from the river in this landscape? Or what was the first occurrence in your life that relates to this view point that you have? We empower ourselves with knowledge in the same way that the tinker tweaking thief does.
By having an accurate understanding of the landscape we seek to influence, we can then move about that landscape with greater ease, instead of bumbling around with a blindfold and bumping into this tree or falling into that river and experiencing only unpleasant aggravation.
We’d do well to be like the tinker tweaking thief, developing confidence through practice, and making ourselves open to important information before trying to have an effect and ultimately leaving exorcism to the realm from whence it came, because the good thief knows there is nothing wrong that must be purged, only a lack of understanding that must be filled and effectively used.