The Scoffer.

 “Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,

And quarreling and abuse will cease.

He who loves purity of heart,

And whose speech is gracious,

will have the king as his friend.”

—Proverbs 22:11

We live in a culture that worships victimhood. Every expedient American is clamoring for a victim card on which to build their platform. The reason is because victimhood has become the new common American value around which people construct their identities. If we have nothing to complain about together, how close could we reasonably be?

This fetish for accumulating trauma has licensed cynicism as a socially acceptable attitude—and worse, on social media, a socially virtuous mindset. People praise eye-rolling, exasperated exhaling, and a witty gif. But they don’t realize the cost of cynicism.

The cost of scoffing is that you lose your humility, your self-awareness, and your resilience. The cost of cynicism is that you become a weak-minded individual.

Cynicism is predicated on entitlement. Cynicism presupposes that I exist in a system that owes me better than it’s giving me, and I don’t share any responsibility for the improvement of that system. I don’t want to understand it. I don’t want to dignify the people in it. I just want to scoff at it. 

The problem is that scoffing creates an ethical hierarchy between the scoffer and the object of the scoffing. Somehow, the scoffed is categorized as someone worth scoffing at. The more the scoffer scoffs—the more the cynic rolls their eyes at the world around them—the higher opinion they must have themselves. The cost of scoffing is that you lose your humility, your self-awareness, and your resilience. The cost of cynicism is that you become a weak-minded individual.

The more cynical you become, the more seriously you take yourself. The less of a sense of humor you have about yourself. The more you see yourself as an object of abuse by the world, and the more justified you feel in your abuse of the world. The more you posture, critique, wrinkle your nose, and give side-eye to your neighbor, the more you become an insufferable tyrant.

Critics incite violent thoughts in my head. But that’s my ego. And my ego doesn’t want me to change. But I actually want to change.

I am not better than my neighbor. I am not better than the system in which I live. Any ugliness in my habitat is borne by me. I own the ugliness in my life. It’s mine. And that’s God’s rule for scoffing—that’s the biblical rule of eye-rolling.

If I’m going to roll my eyes at someone, it’s going to be me.

If I’m going to scoff at someone, it’s going to be me.

If I’m going to morally critique someone, it’s going to be me.

I am not entitled to cynicism. I am not entitled to pretention. The world does not owe me a hearing about all my complaints. If I want to make a credible critique of the world, or of a human being, I will begin by embodying the principle I see lacking in that world. I know it’s cliché to quote Gandhi—“Be the change you wish to see in the world” (even though that’s not a Ghandi quote). Good. It’s cliché as Hell, but it’s absolutely true in a sense far more profound than states in this quote.

If you allow yourself to be cynical, you make yourself weak. You set yourself up for destruction. When disaster strikes, you will have already killed whatever positivity you could have used to demonstrate resilience in that situation. Harboring cynicism in your heart is like pouring acid down your bathroom pipes. You’re just asking for the entire structure of your life to explode.

Don’t be cynical. Don’t be weak. Roll your eyes at yourself before you roll them at anyone else. That will make you strong. That will make you productive.

This is why people who buy into victim culture need trigger warnings all the time. They’re extremely fragile people. They’ve made themselves this way by buying a script that says: “Your survival depends on you being coddled.” No. It depends on you developing thick skin. You don’t need a trigger warning. That’s rooted in cynicism. Cynicism creates weak people who need to verbally bully other people into accommodating their self-imposed weakness.

Don’t be cynical. Don’t be weak. Roll your eyes at yourself before you roll them at anyone else. That will make you strong. That will make you productive. That will make you resilient. And that will make you the kind of trustworthy, faithful individual that can raise a family, rather than a weak-minded, cowering individual who has the needs of a child.

Don’t be cynical. Don’t be childish. Hear the word of God and receive it:

“Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,

And quarreling and abuse will cease.

He who loves purity of heart,

And whose speech is gracious,

will have the king as his friend.”

—Proverbs 22:11

 

FOOTNOTES

 
 

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