Rule # 161: Sin is good
In the crazy world of elections and COVID I have been thinking a lot about what is dividing us into camps. I have gone back to my bible of human understanding, the works of Dr. M Scott Peck, especially the ” Road Less Traveled” and ” People of the Lie: The Hope of Healing Evil”.
Dr. Peck was a flawed man who had extramarital affairs and was estranged from his children. It may seem ironic that this behaviorist who wrote about sin was at times deeply immersed in it. But if you are going to learn about the consequences of sin the best person to listen to is a sinner.
The central theme of his theory was that people are imperfect creatures that are prone to mistakes, or sin. And that all mistakes have consequence, and that realizing these consequences is what make us grow and learn. It is in this way sin makes us human, and guides us on the path towards empathy with others, kindness and forgiveness. Without failure and recovery we can not learn to be better humans.
He believed that bad things happen when people develop “militant ignorance” of their sin, basically saying everything one does is OK because no one can sit judgement of you. It is the thing that allows us blow past the speed bumps and stop signs of moral judgements in religion and society and believe that everything you do is ok because you have chosen to do it. It develops into anger with others ( the militant part) when someone challenges your beliefs or points out your mistakes ( or sins).
I think the militant ignorance within the camps in our society has allowed all sides – republican, democrats, and independents to become pretty unrepentant sinners and basically assholes. People have forgotten the value of admitting mistakes and listening to other points of view, the world of social media has made us into bigger assholes. And worse than assholes, we are assholes that that are damn proud of it, arrogant about our asshole-ness.
What I worry about most is that this militant ignorance will slip into the world of malignant narcissism, where our “camps” begin to demonize one another and actually project evil on each other. When I see people storming the capital and others calling for the re-programing of people I worry that we have hit this level. Dr. Peck used some extreme examples in his writings, notably the My Lai massacre in his argument. But as extreme as that example is, it does point out that once you start thinking your position is absolutely right, and everyone else has no value its not a long slide into evil behavior.
I hated the New England Patriots. I mean hated them. I thought Bill Belichick was a cheat and bum, and Tom Brady his willing puppet. I mean I dislike then more than Brussel sprouts.
Now Tom Brady comes to Tampa and gets our team into the super bowl. All that malignant narcissism against the Patriots is destroyed, I now have to focus my evil thoughts back on the Cowboys.
Yes, in the world of sport my behavior was not dangerous, and I don’t think Tom stayed up nights with Gisele worried about my feelings ( although I hope he did back then). And the consequences of my inappropriate, irrational thought was only some good natured ribbing from Pat fans.
But when it comes to politics and belief systems I think we as a country and society are on a slippery slope towards the evil of malignant narcissism.
We have to embrace that “sin” as part of life, and that listening to each other and having empathy toward those with vastly different belief systems then our own.
We have the ability and to listen and change- hell I even ordered a Brady Bucs Jersey in 4x today. We can accept difference and change. We are all sinners.
But fuck the Cowboys.