Originally Posted by ProfessorSunday
Yes, I think you are right. It can happen with anything that is important to us. Let me take a trivial (to me) topic to illustrate. My brother and I are both baseball fans, meaning that we enjoy the sport both playing it and watching it. But he is a Chicago Cubs fan and I am a St. Louis Cardinal fan, meaning fanatic. That is we get so wrapped up in our favorite team that we can become oblivious to its failings and refuse to recognize the other's positives. This is "necessitated" in our lives by the fact that our two teams are archrivals. Which, should you know about my relationship with my brother, is exactly why we root for them the way we do. The competitive aspect of our relationship "necessitates" that we pick different rather than the same team to root for. And so, a few years ago when they traded players with one another, our view of the talents of the two individuals involved in the trade changed 180 degrees based not on their on the field performance, but on the uniform they were wearing. Did we know better? Certainly, we love the game and know who is and who isn't good, both of these players were actually just mediocre, but when they were on our team, like a true fanatic, we considered them great! So bad are we, that at the end of the season, we don't examine which team had the better overall record, but which team one the head-to-head competion between each other for bragging rights.
Now, sadly, this fanaticism is not confined to the way people feel about baseball teams. Nationalism being a case in point. Such ways of thinking were one of the incipient causes to the first World War and the failure to resolve those issues allowed WWII to like a phoenix rise from the ashes of the first conflagration. And, I am convinced, nationalism remains behind the lack of progress in settling the present conflicts in the middle east.
And lest it seems like I am pointing my finger at other countries and deceiving myself with respect to my own country's faults, I am sometimes appauled at what passes for patriotism here. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have heard people refer to the phrase, "My country right or wrong, but always my country." They offer it seeming to think this is the height of patriotism. Yet, to me is speaks of the exact opposite and an implication that one does not care whether the country is right or wrong. How could that be truly patriotic? Yet, this view fills our nations ransk with volunteers whenever some alleged threat is perceived. And others, unable to go into military service, gladly give away all their rights to the government which then uses its power against its own citizenry. And we applaud them for doing so -- self-deception by the masses.
Thank-you, I did choose to post it in general and not Comparative Religion, because if we can become fanatical about sports and country, how much more so on this forum might we respond that way about our various religious beliefs. But surely we do need to look at this aspect of self-deception as well. But I would encourage each of us to look at our own, rather than someone else's. The words of the prophet Isaiah make it clear how each person needs to check his/her own behavior to see if they reflect our alleged beliefs:
The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Those words apply to more than just the people of Isaiah's day, Jesus saw it in his own time (cf. Mark 7:6), those members of my congregation that claim to worship God, but want to see the American flag flying above the Christian flag might just fit this description as well, and within Islam, the different expressions of jihad might be yet another example of this behavior by at least some. The practice seems to be so common as to give me cause to think it might even be universal. Yet, who among us would see ourselves as living so hypocritically? Is this perhaps, again, just the art of self-deception. We greet people on the street, "Hi, how are you?" without actually caring to hear the answer. We offer saluations, "all the best" when our other words convey that we don't even wish people well, let alone the best.
I believe Woodrow sums it up best:
Originally Posted by Woodrow
Ultimately it really isn't about fanatical sports, national or religious identifications. It is about something within human character. I've got to be right, and therefore..... That's it. We don't finish the sentence, because the completion of that sentence isn't what's really important to us. It is the desire to be right which becomes so strong that we assume it to be true, regardless the evidence, like with my brother and our sports team. Don't confuse me with the facts, things like win-loss records or championships, I know my team is better than yours, so anything you say that might even suggest a different conclusion simply has to be wrong and everything I say has to be right. While we would never put it so bluntly, we are much to sophisticated to do that, the reality is that this is exactly what so many disputes come down to, and that in and of itself simply affirms that we are each engaged in the classical art of self-deception.