The Witness Organization uses a number of words in a very specific and ’emotionally loaded’ ways.
As an ex-member of this Organization I have spent a long time and put a lot of effort into unwiring my emotional, knee-jerk, responses to these words.
I share them here for the purpose of supporting other ex- or exiting J.W.’s to do similar unravelling work. I also share them with the intention of helping family and friends who have lost people to the J.W. Organization understand what is going on with their loved one.
Unknowingly setting off one of these ‘trigger words’ can have unexpected and painful consequences.
With this book and with this glossary I am seeking to reveal the code of the Witness’ secret language.
‘Loading Language’ is a technique used by ‘Trapping Systems’, or cults, to build the process of ‘Thought-Stopping’ into their members. Precisely defined language is used to construct a circular logic box designed to stop critical thinking. Often, in ‘Trapping Systems’, a great many very common words are defined in this way.
In a ‘Trapping System’ these ‘Loaded’ words are then woven together to create a world view that forms a closed system. So, phrases or whole paragraphs of ‘Loaded’ meaning can be built into a very strong container of logic. Logic that blocks out other sorts of reasoning and perspectives.
Members are trained to use ‘Thought Stopping’ techniques such as circular logic, meditation, chanting, or busying oneself with the group’s required work to stifle any Doubts. Questioning of the group and the requirements members are living with are forbidden in a ‘Trapping System’.
All information is to be taken in through the lens of the group’s world view. All decisions are to be made through the group’s way of defining things. Other members and the leadership enforce the group’s perspective through a variety of means. One of which is their secret coded language.
This coded language serves several functions. It creates a unifying perception of reality. It also creates strong sense of belonging for the members. This essentially secret group language also creates a wall separating members from the surrounding society. Generally, members of such ‘Trapping’ groups are taught to both feel superior to, and to fear, outsiders.
Some ‘Trapping Systems’ gather their people into compounds or group housing to physically separate them from the outside World.
My group is Part, but No Part, of This Old System of Things. Jehovah’s Witnesses live and work and go to school along side of the World, while holding themselves carefully separate.
My life within the Truth has given me decades of experience using a private language, made up of mostly common words. I found it fosters a fascinating and painful experience of standing side by side with the society of the outside world and standing within a ‘Trapping’ group’s separateness and superiority.
-Imagine sitting around a break table at work. It is you and two other co-workers. Suddenly the other two start speaking Greek, a language you do not speak. They are separating themselves using language as a barrier. You and they are all equally aware of this separation.
-Now imagine you are sitting in the same work break room with two co-workers. This time, instead of Greek, which you know you do not understand, they are speaking English. You think you understand what they are saying. They are actually speaking in code, strategizing with each other, ways to bring you into their group. They are manipulating you. You have no idea they are coaching each other how to handle you. *(add more description like next example)
-Finally imagine you are in the break room with two other co-workers. You are a member of a ‘Trapping’ group and so is one of the other co-workers. The third person is an Unbeliever. The Unbeliever invites you both to join a group of co-workers going out for a drink after work. You want to go.
You know it is defined by your Organization as a Sin, and as such extremely dangerous. If you insist on doing it you know you could lose everything you have built for yourself within your Organization. There is a Faithful fellow member of your group sitting with you at the break table. You are under scrutiny and you know it.
The Unbelieving co-worker knows nothing of all this.
Your Faithful member co-worker speaks up for both of you and says, “Thank you!” smiling and confident, “As you may know, we are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Every Friday night we have a meeting, teaching us about how to Share the Good News of God’s Kingdom. So, we are busy tonight. Right?”
This fellow member of your ‘Trapping’ group shifts their gaze from the Unbeliever to you.
The co-member is watching you for signs of weakness or hesitation on your part. They are also watching to see how well you speak the required party line of your group. This is a reminder to you, not just that you have a Meeting tonight but that you are committed to a set of rules that require your separation from all outsiders. You are not just busy tonight. You are not ever supposed to go out for a drink with your co-workers.
You nod and say nothing. Your face is carefully blank.
“We have a public Meeting at 10:30 every Sunday morning.” Your co-member continues brightly. “You should come.” This Faithful member looks back to the Unbeliever.
The Faithful member is watching both the Unbeliever and you the Weak or New Member.
You know that your co-member is demonstrating what every member of your group is supposed to say in such a circumstance. There is a handbook and meetings where you practice this. You are feeling shame that you didn’t say it. You feel afraid to ever accept an invitation to go out with the work gang after hours. You know this co-member is watching you and will report any deviations, on your part, to the leaders.
The following definitions are my own experience of Witness meanings. I found these italicized words by writing my story.
When I run into a ‘Loaded’ word or phrase my fingers slow in their typing. I rarely make it all the way through spelling one of these words before the pull of the Watchtower’s interpretation of the word is rising from the back of my mind.
In the text, when I am using an italicized word, and I intend the Witness meaning of the word, I have also capitalized it. When I am using a word that has a ‘Loaded’ Witness meaning but I am using it in the World’s commonly understood meaning of the word I have used italics and all lower-case letters.
I did this because these italicized words, this ‘Loaded Language’ my father Inculcated in my Heart, impacts me even when a Worldly Person is using one of them with no intended extra meaning.
Due to this Training I still feel the Witness paradigm pulling at my awareness nearly 20 years after my initial break with the Organization.
I am seeking to give you, the reader, a window into the impact of having so many common words ‘Loaded’ with special meanings intent on catching and holding people.