Here There Be Dragons

Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door for the first time the other day.

They started on their “Kingdom of Heaven” stuff and I was like, “ok, you can go.” They left.

I thought about it for a long time after that– how can people wake you up, come into your house and annoy the hell out of you and everyone else they come across? How can they do it to one person after another, day in and day out? How emotionally stunted do these people have to be to not understand the impact they have?

Look, only the naive and the obscenely polite will let you into their house and let you berate them in this way. They should know this better than anyone– they do it all day long.

What this and a number of other practices suggest is that there are a significant portion of the population for which common sense and logic are not basic faculties of everyday use. It’s shocking.

What’s even more shocking is that you are one of them.

Not with everything, of course. You’re generally a pretty smart individual. But examine your behaviour for a second– I bet you there are holes in your logic, in your habits, that make absolutely no sense. There definitely are in mine.

The truth is, everyone is like this. We are largely smart, capable people that make a lot of sense. But then you’ll meet a PhD candidate who believes in astrology and it throws everything out of whack. You realize that everyone has them, and they’ve had them because they’ve given up on that part of the map.

“Here there be dragons” is a common phrase you see in old fantasy books that had maps on the front pages. They showed the main kingdoms and cities, the roads, the oceans… and then, a hinterland– a dangerous territory labelled in this way, on the edge of civilization, that had been given up on.

Your inner maps have these places too. Do you know where?





14 responses to “Here There Be Dragons”

  1. Briana Avatar

    Oooh, this idea reminds me of one of my favorite This American Life programs, where they interviewed otherwise bright, logical people who had held onto a particularly wacky dragon since childhood. Like the one girl who still believed in unicorns. (No, really.)

    And I like the metaphor of “here there be dragons” – kinda frames things like a fun treasure hunt instead of some scary shadow.

  2. Bob LeDrew Avatar

    A friend once opened his door to find two Jehovah’s Witnesses waiting there with copies of Awake! His response: “Look, don’t bother with me — I’m a sodomite on my way to donate blood.”

    I can’t top that.

  3. j2 Avatar

    I always figured they were doing it for THEIR sake not yours. In the face of that level of adversity, one finds something out about oneself, I should think.

    If they happen to end up chatting with someone, bonus.

  4. Samuel Parent Avatar

    Hi Julien,
    Wonderful post. There’s something else along these lines that scares the &?%#$ out of me. If we get so much spam in our email, someone actualy has to click and buy stuff for the effort to be worthwhile. I cannot imagine someone going through the motions, the efforts and probably investments of regular spamming schemes if there wasn’t a payoff somewhere for them.
    And it can’t be as simple as “look what I can do” because it’s been done already, over and over angain.

  5. Mary Wallace Avatar

    Years ago, right after I’d miscarried, I was followed down Chestnut Street in San Francisco by Korean Mormons, two seemingly nice young men. Out of respect, I listened for a moment, then said ‘you know what, I disagree with you, I’m going to get back on my way’. And one of the inexperienced young men said ‘you want to go to hell then? and it came out of my mouth, ‘Look, I just lost a pregnancy and I don’t have time for this’ and YES, he went for it, ‘Your baby is in hell unless you accept Christ’. Really. Because I was still hormonal, I of course wailed for a few minutes in private in some store I pulled into, but then composed myself, because if there is a g-d, then that guy’s going to wake up in hell… Sure, having interesting beliefs makes us human, but social awkwardness and prostelytizing do not mix well.

  6. John McLachlan Avatar

    Ok, first off, I LOVE this post and topic.

    Here’s my take on it: I think anyone who believes in God has at least a bit of a screw loose (ok, if I’m being honest, I really think they are kind of stupid). Jehovah’s Witnesses definitely fall into this category.

    But then there’s my best friend Kevin, from high school – known him 35 years and he believes in God. He’s smart, liberal, cool, fun, wise but… he believes in God. I still like him and totally enjoy spending time with him, his God-believing wife and four kids.

    So, maybe I’m stupid! My inner maps are screwy. If they are, I’m glad they are or else I’d never see my longtime friend and I’d miss out on that relationship.

    In other words, maybe our screwy maps and being around people with other screwy maps that are different than ours is a good thing including getting woken up by people at your door. They remind us of so much more.

    My inclination when Jehovah’s Witnesses are on the street is to want to give them a dirty look for trying to make their pitch to me, but that’s too easy. Instead, I do my best to smile and acknowledge that they remind that people can be very different from me but we can all try to get along.

    I suppose, the very act of responding to this topic where I exert my opinion on why I think believing in imaginary friends is childish, is the same as the Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to your door.

    I’ll shut up now. 🙂

  7. Lisa Yallamas Avatar
    Lisa Yallamas

    Do you think the PhD candidate knows about the dragons? 😉

  8. Raggedy Sarah Avatar

    Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t bother me, because from what I understand of their beliefs they think I’m going to hell (a horrible place if it actually exists) and they care enough to try to save me. If that is their reality, being annoyed by a doorbell and a few minutes talking to strangers is a small price to pay.

    Compare that to most of your daily interactions with strangers – who are all being extra nice to you because they want your money. Is the occasional meeting of people who genuinely want to help you really so awful?

    If your reaction is to be cleverly cruel to these people, then that is your dragon.

  9. Ric Dragon Avatar

    They are sort of like the original spam. They don’t require a high open rate…. just one in a million (actually, spam actually has a success rate of about 1 in 2 million). Their communication agents (the proslytizers) are inexpensive (volunteers), and their product fulfills the needs of many users. The inherent cost is the time it takes for you to say “no” and close your door. Multiply that by the millions of door slammings, and you’ve got a pretty substantial cost to society.

    Along with spam, I wouldn’t mind seeing this activity legislated out for the greater good.

  10. Danielle Avatar

    I feel sympathetic toward them. An old man rang the door bell the other day and I stood at an upstairs window watching him until he turned around, stooped, and walked slowly to his car. I know he’s just trying to bring good into the world, however misguided. But, still, I couldn’t open the door to him. I did wish him well, ever silently.

  11. Rukiya Avatar

    I believe in God but I also don’t practise religion and consequently I have a particularly secular outlook on life. Basically, I’m all muddled up. But, what I’ve found with myself and mostly people I’ve met who believe in God is that they have not learned and are not informed about the religion they claim to believe, on even a basic level most times. It’s just bits and pieces we’ve heard over the years but never anything comprehensive or deeply thought out. I hate being ignorant about such a major thing, but religion in the modern world is not apart of most peoples day to day life- out of site out of mind- until you’re comforted with something that makes you reflect on your own beliefs, and then your left thinking $%&*.

  12. Ry Avatar

    Hey Julian, your bit about reading and avoiding school in favor of travelling, and having conversations to other smart individuals is golden. I tried very hard to convince myself that school was what I needed, boy did that fail. I gained so much more from the books I have read, people I interact with and life experiences . The institution of school if anything made me very risk averse for a long time. Another smart thing to do is learn or continue to practice a musical instrument. Also, a few simple math exercises daily are great at keeping you sharp and making you smarter.

  13. lambgyro Avatar

    I like how just about every post on here, except the last by Ry, focuses on the Jehovah’s witness part of the post, rather than on the analogy to one’s own thought and habits. ie, “In what ways I am like a Jehovah’s witness?” All these condescending comments about “misguided Jehovah’s witnesses” totally misses the point, and ironically serves as an example of the very mindset Julien is pointing out here. Great job guys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *