If Condemnation Ever Solved Our Problems, There’d be a Line Around the Block
I’m really sick of condemnation politics. Biden condemns Hamas. He condemns Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. American policymakers want other countries to condemn Hamas and Russia. I see people on social media condemning each other for being, “wrong”, “anti-semitic”, a “closet terrorist”, or a “Putin poodle”.
I have never, ever, seen a problem solved by condemning someone. When I see people in a disagreement over something, whatever that might be, and one side condemns the other (“You can go to hell!”), I translate it like this:
“I got nothing.”
The act of condemning someone is euphoric and cathartic. It is indicative of the condemner’s own thinking about themselves and their own mistakes, their misfortune, or how they rolled their ankle this morning while getting out of bed.
Condemnation is a great way to distract or deflect attention from ourselves to the other guys. As a tactic of debate, condemnation does not inform us as to the cause of the problem that gave rise to the debate, or the solution to any problems to be solved.
“What’s your problem?”
I’ve been married for 16 years. During that time, I’ve looked for jobs, had jobs, bought houses, had kids, and had arguments with my wife. Underneath every dispute that I have ever had, I found that there was a problem to be solved. I was never tempted to condemn someone for their actions. I just didn’t see the point.
Over time, through trial and error, I found that I could ask questions about problems instead of making demands and declarations about the presumed state of the other person’s mind. I learned not to bring up mistakes or errors on the part of the adversary. When I asked enough questions, I usually found a problem that the other person was trying to solve, but without much success.
Every time I solved a problem with the other person, the conflict went away. The conflict ended in a way that made both sides happy. Solving problems with an adversary is exactly the opposite of condemning the adversary.