By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Magical Thinking

The level of denial that humans practice is amazing. The desired reality is daily manufactured in the face of hard facts.

Here are some examples.

1. There is the belief that somehow seriously stupid acts won't have serious, long term consequences. The promiscuous person thinks she will pay no price. The substance abuser--and alcohol is included in this category--thinks that it's just a way of life.

Even not a few Christians fall into this trap and expect that forgiveness will erase the practical consequences of serious stupidity. You can be forgiven, but that does not mean that you do not pay and should not expect to pay a real price in the real world for serious stupidity.

2. We wish to see people like we want them to be, instead of seeing them as they really are. This type of magical thinking applies across the board in sexual relationships and in family relationships. That is why many smiling photographs and eulogies aren't good guides to reality.

3. We turn a blind eye to immense stupidity in political parties and in religious organizations because we can't bear to question our assumptions. If we deny the reality, then it isn't there. But, of course, reality is always there and will inevitably remind us that it is there.

4. We even engage in magical thinking about ourselves. The selfish consider themselves unselfish. The promiscuous consider themselves paragons of restraint. The greedy person considers himself a dedicated public servant. The racist considers himself merely proud of his real or imagined roots. Some enter marriage deluded about their fundamental marriageability and, at times, even deluded concerning their own sexual orientation. All of these lies to the self merely facilitate our worst instincts for deception of ourselves and of others.

Of course, you are free to choose magical thinking; but you can't reasonably expect everyone else to join in your delusion. The saying is that nature abhors a vacuum. I would add: nature abhors delusions.

(Public domain image below)