Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fooling Ourselves is not Difficult

When men get together for some drinking and lighthearted bantering, one sometimes hears spoken by those who are partying: "For me, it's fun and romance, when others do the same thing it is immoral." While this saying is spoken in jest, it deals with some of the more private areas of our daily life. The Catholic Times columnist uses the saying to remind us of what we may tend to forget.

In the past, when romance was not part of our culture, we would tend to hear: "Bringing water to our garden," meaning " taking care of our own needs, being selfish and narcissistic."  The modern way of saying the same thing would be to use the more expressive and suggestive references to romance and immorality.  In any event, both point to our self-centered thinking, the columnist says. We can easily contradict ourselves to our benefit, using duplicity to achieve what we want.

This kind of thinking gets us into trouble, for it often goes against sound reasoning. Some scholars believe this thinking arises because of an innate desire for survival, seeing our surroundings as benefiting oneself, content to live with this illusory observation. Children, he says, often are caught up in this type of thinking: What they can see, they believe others can see, what they can't see, they believe others can't see. However, this is not only limited to children, the columnist says; adults also can think this way.

He sites a study that found that pleasure arises from the same area within the brain whenever a person speaks about himself or food or money or sex, and there is the tendency to want to reinforce this with repeated actions. Because this reaction is so natural, he admits to having reservations about faulting the behavior, but there are other factors involved, he points out, that add some clarity to the situation.

As an adult, we have to put away the things of a child. Mother Theresa was a saint, so she did what she did because she was a saint; what has that to do with me? he asks. Isn't going to Mass and hearing sermons really of little value for we will not change?

Rules for the good life which we openly defy, we all see differently, so the yardstick of justice and love we tend not to apply objectively. The standards change with the time, the place and the situation, we often think, so they have little to do with our being people of faith or Christians. When we see the life of faith one way and our daily life in another way, we become stuck at the infant stage of life, he says.

As Christians, if we see--according to our interest, as the maxim goes--the truths of faith, at one time, under the  romantic aspect and, at another time, under the immoral aspect, it would be because one or the other suited our particular disposition at the time, the columnist says.  Isn't this even worse than living without belief and doing whatever we feel comes naturally? he asks.  With this way of living  the only two sins we will be dispensed from are lying and hypocrisy.

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