Monday, October 20, 2003

Self-Delusion

A friend of mine recently told me that he's becoming fascinated with the Catholic church. I can't say I agree with him, but of course everyone has the right to go off on whatever tangents he feels like- I'm sure he doesn't get this comic book thing I've been on for the past few years.

Thing is, at the same time he's also getting really into Communism. And he doesn't see the irony (I asked him). He thinks that the poor are getting a raw deal, and yeah, I suppose they are; and so he feels that the oppressed need to band together and through the Man and his capitalism into the sea and all that. Simultaneously, he thinks the Church kicks ass because they have some programs that help the poor. Never mind the Communist doctrine that religion is an opiate for the masses, or that John Paul II used the Papacy to work against Soviet Communism; as far as my activist amigo is concerned, it's the most natural thing in the world to combine the two mutually-exclusive Big Cs.

I think this is pretty silly, but I certainly don't begrudge him is silliness. He's kidding himself, but who isn't? I'm pretty sure that we're all kidding ourselves about all sorts of things, of varying levels of importance, and that it's just part of the human condition. I know lots of people who kid themselves into believing that their employers deserve every ounce of energy they can muster, and that staying until 7 to get some report out will make all the difference. My brother-in-law is kidding himself that the Democratic Party has his best interests at heart, and that if he just plays the game, he'll be rewarded with a sanely-governed heaven on earth. Half the people who write letters to the Star-Tribune (and about 90% of those writing to the Pi-Press) kid themselves that there's a big man in the sky who'll help us all out if we follow some rules in a book, and that this big sky-man will be upset if we don't make it the official position of our government that he's tops. All kinds of people are kidding themselves that they have any sort of grounds upon which to make personal evaluations, positive or negative, about Tom Cruise or Shaquille O'Neal or Demi Moore or George W. Bush.

I'm kidding myself about lots of things: that I'm a good mountain biker, that my band is something special (I'm sure all 9000 of the bands in the Twin Cities think that they're the innovative and melodic island in a river of excrement), that my prose is lively and insightful, that I'll be able to stay thin as I age, that I won't have to work in an office forever, and so on. And actually, I'm glad that I can (for the most part) pull the wool over my own eyes on this stuff. I think it's necessary. If we all faced the unvarnished truth, that each goddamned one of us is no more special in the big scheme of things than the ants we think nothing of stepping on, that there's no meaning to any of this unless we put it there, well, there'd be wave upon wave of mass suicide as people tried to face reality without the crutches of self-deception. There'd probably be nuclear war. If we can all delude ourselves into feeling better, well, good for us.

My father is kidding himself that there are forces aligned against him, that if you're not with him you're agin' him, and that he's honor-bound to put all of his money into frivolous, harassing lawsuits and, if he gets the chance, to kill his imaginary foes.

But, then, he's fucking nuts.

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