In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of building a new social network as a prerequisite to leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses cult. After all, when all the Witness "friends" you have until now shun you, then suddenly, you will find yourself alone in the world, with no acquaintance in sight. So in order to cope when that finally happens, you have to build a new social network. But in order to do that, you first have to know who you really are.
The thing is, most Witnesses would like to think that they each have their own personalities, but in all honesty, the range of allowed personalities is very narrow. After all, the Watchtower advocates "putting on the new personality" which is their code for the set of behavior that are allowed by the Governing Body. And this is very narrow indeed. When you have the "new personality", all that means is that you're a clone, a robot, following what the Governing Body prescribes you should favor, like, and believe.
They always like to ask, whether you'd be comfortable inviting Jesus to any activity. Say you're trying to figure out if you should watch a particular movie. Say it is R rated. They would ask, would you be comfortable inviting Jesus to your living room to watch that R rated movie? How about if you're on vacation, you're in a national park, and there's an opportunity to do bungee jumping. Would you be comfortable inviting Jesus to tandem bungee jump with you?
That's right, folks. Every decision in the Watchtower borg is decided centrally. There is no breathing space to develop one's own likes and dislikes. Just look at the fictional story of Sergey, in their series of videos that were released in this year's convention. He wanted to play the violin, yet his father forbade him to, because according to the father, going to the conservatory to study violin would expose Sergey to worldly elements.
So instead of knowing what one likes, most of the time, folks who have been Witnesses for a long time realize that they know more about what the Witnesses should like, not what they really individually like.
Now why do I emphasize the importance of knowing yourself? It's because once you get out of the Witnesses, Jesus won't be deciding things for you anymore. Rather, you would be the one deciding it for yourself. You have a brain, you can use it. Go ahead and find out if you like to watch R rated movies. Go ahead and find out if you like to go bungee jumping. Go ahead and find out if you like to play the violin. Go ahead and find out if you like the taste of boudoin noir and black pudding. Go ahead and find out who you really are, and what you really like.
It is also important to do these things, because eventually these aspects of your personality would be the key to building your new social network. If you know who you really are, then it is easier to find like-minded individuals and do these things together. These people would then be your real friends. If you don't know who you really are, then it is hard to figure out who could be your friends.
I might seem to imply that this is a minor issue, only relating to one's likes and dislikes. Honestly though, it is way bigger than that. This also relates to one's own ethics and morals. This reminds me of an incident here in my blog, where as a response to an article I wrote about atheism, an anonymous reader (I highly suspect it was my dad, given how it was written, but never mind, it doesn't matter) left several comments asking how I would be able to figure out what is right and what is wrong. This anonymous reader argued that without the Bible, one wouldn't be able to do it. I have my own answer to that, but everyone else should have their own answer as well. After all, this is your own life, your own personality. If you decide that being a Witness is not for you, then you have to have a back up plan. If you still believe in the Bible but not in the Witness teachings, then be mentally prepared to stand for your beliefs. If you have abandoned belief in the Bible altogether, then be prepared to own that decision. And if you simply stopped caring and would rather focus your energies on other aspects of life, then you should be able to say that is so with a straight face.
In short, what I want to say here is that everyone should be able to know oneself, and be proud of who they see in the mirror. One shouldn't be crouching behind a Bible, refusing to use their own brain to think, rather, making decisions through the tenets provided by a group of old men in Brooklyn. Once you know who you really are, then it would be easier to get out of this world and leave the Witnesses.
In my next post, I will talk about changing perspective. Most Witnesses have the mindset that life in the current form is simply temporary. Indeed, Witnesses are eagerly waiting for Armageddon, when Jehovah destroys all non-believers and transform this earth into a Paradise. This entails being suspended in limbo, as they focus all their energies into making sure that they get into Paradise and survive Armageddon. However, when you leave the Witnesses, this "hope" of everlasting life goes away, and you realize that there is only one life, the current one. Next time I will talk about how to transition between these two mindsets.