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Would you use the Magic Key?

When a Jehovah's Witness has fully 'woken up', the hard work of coming to terms with the idea that so much of what they once believed, is not true, can be overwhelming.

Former 'beliefs' are dismantled and shown up to be outright lies, or as best 'misrepresentations. It's hard to build a new identity when the foundations are crumbling.

Fortunately, many people, through support, counselling, psychoeducation and a lot of bravery and determination, do navigate this part of their life and find the way to be happy, content and free.

You can remember how your life was and you can look at how it is now. You can see the difference. You can see that so much was false and maybe you were not as happy as you thought at the time. As your life has changed to what it is now you have a clearer idea on what life should be and what actually gives you happiness. You may even have gone through times when you tried to understand why 'worldly' people are not necessarily as cruel, dangerous or evil as you were told. In fact it's these 'worldy' people that are actually there to support you, not your JW family and friends.

When you assess everything, with your newly developing ability to think critically, you hopefully come to the conclusion that life outside of the Jehovah's Witnesses is better than life within it. Even allowing for the shunning you may be experiencing, you find a way to compartmentalise that part of your life and make the most of what you do have, rather than focus on what you don't. It's likely that heartache for the family you have lost will always be there in the background, but you can still find a way of making it less pervasive in your day to day life. The guilt that you may have felt at causing all the hurt for the rest of the family can be replaced with a more logical stance that you have not done anything wrong and it is their beliefs that cause them to act and feel the way they do.

However, this then introduces a troubling new psychological dilemma.

When you know how much better life can be outside of the control of the Jehovah's Witnesses, you wish that your family could have that same happiness and freedom. But you also know that there is nothing you can say that will penetrate the JW barricade that they live behind. If you try to reason with them and be sensible in trying to stimulate a logical debate, you know you will be met with stock JW responses, rehearsed over and over to repel your potentially damaging thoughts. Even though you now know that the 'evidence' they present for their side of the argument does not stack up, you also know that they believe it completely. If you try to be more forceful with your language you risk straying into 'apostate' territory and will be treated as such. Again, with no good outcome.

So, after realising your efforts are futile and you are wasting your breath, you admit defeat. You have no choice but to step back and hope that they will, one day, begin to doubt. To question. Let's face it, you did it, so why shouldn't they? It's possible. And you need to retain that belief that it could be possible, but you are also quite pragmatic and admit the chances are slim. But not entirely out of the question.

And here we are at the original question.

Imagine there were a room that contained information that was guaranteed to put that first seed of doubt into a Jehovah's Witness' mind. Not something that instantly flipped them from a believer to a non-believer, but something that could, at the very least, guarantee they would think to themselves "I wonder....?"

If you had a key to this room, would you give it to your family?

I suspect that for a lot of ex Jehovah's Witnesses, they don't have to think more than a second. Of course they would.

However, for many ex JW's I have spoken to, the answer is not that simple. They have very vivid memories of the mental torture they went through when they began to 'wake up'. The extreme guilt, anxiety, loneliness, torturous confusion. They also remember the despair when they thought about all the lost time they spent trying to be a good Jehovah's Witness to please everyone.

Those memories cause a person to wonder whather it would be right to inflict the same thing on another person, especially one they love. Yes, of course, you can remind yourself that it still worked out and it was worth it in the end but that is very easy to say with the benefit of hindsight. There will be literally thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses right now in the middle of this desperate turmoil and they can't just take your word for it that everything will work out ok.

For every ex Jehovah's Witness that says they would use the key to open the room, you will find another that says they would not. That they don't feel it's fair to inflict that on their loved ones. That it shows a lack of respect for their beliefs and if they want to keep believing that it is the real 'Truth' then they should be allowed to do so, even if it means they never find the key to the room themselves. Why would you want to open up the room to a relative for whom their entire world would then fall apart?

If you had the key, would you open the door for them?

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