Monday, June 13, 2016

Magical Thinking

When I was a kid, I loved the idea of magic. I watched Peter Pan and thought if I could get a hold of some fairy dust (or pixie dust or what have you), I would be able to fly. I clapped really, really hard for Tinkerbell. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to believe in magic. Imagination really takes wing around the ages of four up, and all things are possible. It’s a wonderful time.

As you grow older, you become a bit more realistic. While you still love the feeling of magic from Peter Pan or the Wizard of Oz, you start to realize that there’s a real world, and incantations just don’t really work. Harry Potter is a wonderful character, but do you really think that Daniel Radcliffe or Emma Watson are going to wave a wand and defeat a real villain?

But somehow magical thinking is alive in in this world. We have people who think that if the president utters the words “radical Islamic terrorism” then that will make all those bad guys put away all their weapons. We will just wave a wand and utter the magical spell “Aveda kedavra, radical Islamic terrorist!” and by God (our good old Judeo-Christian God, not the one whose name begins with A and ends with H), there they’ll go, in a puff of righteous smoke.

Or maybe that’s not it. Maybe we’ll have to “carpet-bomb” those infidels. Just lay in a line B-52s, dropping 500 pound magical bombs, until the desert is a smoking cratered mess. Never mind those hundreds of thousands of non-combatants, women, children who just happen to be in the way. Tough noogies, radical Islamic terrorists. You should have converted to a religion we don’t bomb. You were on that carpet we bombed.

There is a pathological tendency in political thought. That tendency is to believe that it’s not enough to speak your opinion. That’s never enough. By God, you must make the other person (and how close he is to an enemy, right?) acknowledge your feelings. You must convince him of the rightness of your position. It’s not enough that you feel the way you do – other’s must feel the same! Because, by God, you are right. No, YOU ARE RIGHT! How can you validate your existence if other people aren’t converted?

 So what would happen if President Obama actually said the words “radical Islamic terrorism”? Did you get a sudden little orgasmic thrill? You get to feel that you were right all along? Did it make you happy? Did it make you feel the same way that it felt when you applauded Tinkerbell? Did you fly?

Well, bless your heart.