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Absolutism • Posted: Jul 30, 2011 14:21:47Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Take a careful look at the young lady above. It's been reported she's the daughter of a neo-Nazi terrorist. . . . no, not right, of militant ultra-orthodox Zionists. . . . no, of a secretive Muslim cleric suspected of recruiting suicide bombers. . . . no no, of scientists rumored to be helping develop biological weapons. . . . no, not that either. She's the daughter of fugitive parents wanted in three states for writing bad checks. Just look. You can see it in her eyes. It's right there.

Confused?? You may not be. In fact, you may be quite willing to swallow whole hog whatever suggestion of supposed truth is thrown at you. And you wouldn't be alone. A substantial portion of the media consuming public do just that with almost everything they see, hear, and read. I can point to two such citizens I sat with in a waiting room this week, one 30, the other 60, the younger U.S. born and educated, the older an East German immigrant who defected before the wall fell. "I don't trust any doctor", the older one states. "Obama, he's the cause of this economy", the younger insists.

Why do they do it, imagine things that have no basis in fact? They do it because it reinforces what they already suspect is true, that conspiratorial evil exists and that it's out to get them. They quickly infer causality where only rough coincidence exists. All impinging annoyances are assessed as willful and intentional. And, there is no room for doubt because all those self-serving talking heads on the media play into and feed their intellectual insecurity, blurring logic and misrepresenting facts to gain listeners, readership, and sponsors. To those deeply affected citizens, there appears to be only one rational refuge: magical thinking, usually of a purifying nature, and sometimes violence, always of a purifying nature.

Sadly, we saw yet another fearful soul tragically run amok in Norway last weekend. And just a day or two ago, a deeply conflicted AWOL army private, a professed conscientious objector, was arrested with weapons and bomb making materials outside a military base. Then again, for weeks now, similarly bound up thinkers bent on simplistic purification have been trying their darnedest, at both state and national levels of government, to train-wreck our U.S. economy for the sake of "principle".

So what is the answer? Is there one?

At some level, one might suspect some weird contaminant in our food or water. At another level, we could look for a genetic variation that's been propagating slowly but surely throughout human populations for centuries, a variation resulting in a developmental alteration to the basic wiring of our brains. Those without the variation could be more prone to rigidity of thought, those with the variation less flustered in the face of need to compromise, to adjust. Or, the variation could be working the other way round.

It's interesting to note that, per NPR, a new therapeutic procedure for obsessive-compulsive disorder was approved this week. The procedure involves highly specific micro-electrical stimulation of certain cells in the brain. The result for those whom have already undergone trials is a substantial release from short-circuiting imperatives issued by controlling portions of the brain. Subjects receiving the micro-stimulation feel less guttered into narrowly ritualized behaviors and more free to explore alternatives. Pity the procedure hasn't yet been prescribed for certain U.S. Congressmen and Senators.

Take a close look at the dreamily relaxed, sensually exploring young lady in the image above. One can easily surmise she is not a victim of narrowly focused, absolutist, obsessive-compulsive brain imperatives. As to all those other speculative assertions made at the outset of this post, you can rest assured they are pure nonsense.

May your brain circuitry allow you to become ever more astute at piecing together the actual truth of things and less susceptible to the sucking paranoiac undertow of magical thinking. The viability of democracy and all that is joyfully creative and responsible in us may depend on it.

Monday, May 30th, 2011
St. Joseph