Dave Brisbin 1.16.22
We call people passive-aggressive so casually these days, it’s likely we’re no longer sure what it means. Just as guerrilla warfare is an indirect way of opposing a much greater force, passive-aggression is an indirect way of getting what we want or expressing anger and frustration without directly confronting another person. But where guerrilla warfare is a conscious tactic to turn weakness into strength, passive-aggression is usually an unconscious expression of a person’s perceived powerlessness.
People who don’t believe they can make significant choices in life are naturally passive-aggressive in their interactions with others. From chronic lateness, forgetfulness, or losing things to constant complaining, blaming, keeping relationships chaotic and ambiguous, a person who feels victimized finds passive ways forward. Belief systems feed the passive-victim narrative: the belief in an all-powerful God, can make us feel like cosmic victims of fate or destiny, that God is the only actor with a real choice. A belief in original sin—that we are born hopelessly flawed and separate from God—makes us theological victims with Jesus as the only actor who can save us.