I don’t know about you all but life can seem to come at you fast. We eat fast, drive fast, attempt to bank fast, and on and on we could go. About the only thing we do slowly is watch TV, or possibly scroll through our social media.
As a result, we find ourselves feeling as if we have to make decisions quickly or form opinions in a matter of moments. Thankfully, there is Google and Twitter to help ensure that we form the correct opinion or vote for the correct person. To be more succinct, we are far too willing to let others decide and opine for us as long as it does not contradict our current focus and desires.
I would argue that many times the proof that we are actually thinking for ourselves is found in the contradictions that we experience and confront. The problem that I want to address today is what happens when we find ourselves attempting to defend the opinions of others that we have hastily adopted as our own. In these situations, the only thing that will do is to round up a straw man, or woman, and beat them down mercilessly.
The fine folks at Merriam Webster (m-w.com) describe the straw man in this way: a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted
Straw men and straw women are awesome! They will wear whatever clothes – or argument – that you throw on them. They do not respond and they are so easy to skewer. In fact, the presence of these characters of straw only seems to embolden our positions as our voices grow louder and louder in the arguments.
Straw men can be used to attack religion and they seem to really excel. However, if a religious person is allowed the use of a straw man they can just as easily destroy any contrarian argument. This is probably the most attractive quality of these dusty creatures in that you can change your opinion about a subject and be just as skilled in destroying opposing opinions within a short amount of time, as the learning curve on straw men is extremely short. You cannot file to run for public office unless you have demonstrated sufficient skill in destroying these fearful creatures of the garden.
For those who claim to be a child of God then the following verses from Philippians 2 speak to how our speech and attitudes are to be shaped. If you would not claim to be a child of God or doubt the reality of God then the challenge would be to ask yourself what is so appealing about arguing with an unresponsive dummy, when your very reality depends on being correct.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5
If you desire an example of a straw man then I’m sure that it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone in some public space holding forth on their victory over a wobbly scarecrow.