Saturday, November 04, 2006

Following the Piper Across the Illogical Divide

It’s late on a Saturday evening and for some reason I am reflecting on a summer day in June of this year. I was watching the Yankees play the Red Sox on television and the Yankee fans were viciously booing their own player Alex Rodriquez.

This post is not necessarily about baseball, so don’t hang up the phone just yet.

What I am really thinking about is a cultural phenomenon that presents itself for inspection often. Many of us might use the colloquialism ‘piling on’ to describe it. Or we might also call it ‘follow the leader’ or being ‘on the bandwagon.’

What Yankees fans were doing was booing one of the games premier players, and odd to the point of illogic, one of their own players in a situation in which his positive performance would be instrumental to their goals as Yankee fans.

I see this often. My take on this is a simple analysis really. I think we often behave in a herd mentality to our detriment. A talk show host or someone on the New York sports scene decides to jump the case of Rodriquez and soon the unthinking herd has picked up the beat and the next scene observed is the thundering roar of complete illogic.

From Florida elections history we are told that elections are rigged and our vote does not count. The Democratic Party confesses it must now re-educate its voters to understand they really should vote because their vote actually does count. Once again the bandwagon effect plays a part in an illogical action from voters based on the wagon loading voice of the party’s leaders themselves.

We watch the disgraced Ted Haggard place countless thousands on the anti-gay bandwagon while he pays for gay sex on the quiet. The anti-gay beat resonates across religious America with intense fervor as the wagon grows tall with followers of the Haggard position, no personal thought required; we’ll just follow gay Ted to loud and profane illogical conclusions.

It is not a crystallized thought with me at this point, but I am moving toward the idea that we are often simply too cowardly to act on our own thoughts. We find a chorus we are comfortable singing and then we find many others to sing it with, abandoning additional thought. It matters not that the song doesn’t belong to our heart or even represent our soul’s reflection. Rather it is the easy out, the repetition of another’s thought brought forward into reality without a proper gestation based on individual thought.

So we join the chorus that sounds more or less socially presentable to us, one that makes us acceptable to others. We do it because the consequences of being different or disputing the logic of the masses is unpleasant. This failure in stepping away from the tribe is apparent in history. If it were not true, then Hitler would not have done the damage he did and fanatical Muslims could not so willingly kill from atop their bandwagon of immense hate carrying the illogical notion that the service of virgins is the reward for the murder of fellow humans.

I say these things because I believe in a natural order handed down by the Creator. I believe all things are presented in the good and that evil originates from our failures to understand or correctly implement the natural law.

This might sound mysterious, but for me it is as simple as listening to the inner soul or perhaps what we think of as heart. If the heart and mind feel good and you do not suffer from psychosis, then I propose we are working in the natural order. If it somehow feels wrong then perhaps we should consider if we are atop another’s bandwagon instead of riding comfortably inside our own set of values and God granted abilities to discern good from evil

I fear the possibility that I follow the Piper across the illogical divide too often. I pray that it isn't true. I wish to be brave enough to ride on a bandwagon of one called 'me', walking in the good with logic in hand.


Grant said...

One of the best reasons I've found to doubt anything is if too many people believe in it. Down with government. End xtianity now.

Seven said...

I hear you 13, though I don't really advocate dismissing christianity. I do advocate that each christian, hindu, muslim, etc, seek his or her own definition of whatever belief he or she might hold, rather than merely singing a convenient chorus of non-thinking repetition.

Anonymous said...

Good post, seven. The mob mentality that is so wide spread is frightening. I was IMing with a friend just moments ago, and part of our discussion had to do with being comfortable in one's on skin, and only then can one interact appropriately with other factions of society. From marriage to our jobs to our families to general society, it is vital to know oneself and to follow one's own instincts. Otherwise, one becomes insignificant. I a person chooses with forethought to follow the reasoning of the crowd, so be it. But too many have not found that comfort in their own personal arena, so they follow like lemmings after the Pied Piper, even when it becomes illogical. I've been there, and I would guess most of us have at some time. But I thank the heavens that I have learned, and continue to learn over and over again, to walk my own path, even against the masses. I may be trampled one day, but I hope to never cave to the mob.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I so agree--we are cowardly and follow human charisma when we should be thinking with our brains and thinking in our hearts. Many people are not leaders--that's fine--but it is folly to follow someone because he is this, that or the other thing. It's a sheep herding mentality. I realize that life is hard, and sometimes after work, you just want your beer and TV show, but it isn't conducive to our lives if we fail to see life as a journey toward enlightenment; instead, there is the me, me, me love and the existence that may translate into worldly comforts, but hollow and facile meanderings. Haggard made me think about this, but I've thought it before. Good post.

Seven said...

I think your second sentence amplifies what I feel. It really can be frightening when charismatic leaders begin to accumulate power wrapped around some romantic ableit illogical canon. Very scary indeed.
Yes and i know we have talked before about finding our own way in past conversations. It may be more dificult but at least we know where the stumbling points lie?

Reach said...

Great insight!
I think, it continues with your thoughts on religion; basically, whether a fan, or follower, we are a flock. In my years of church attendance, I, as well as other members, were our minister's flock.


Seven said...

Your clever references to sheepishness is acknowledged. I think there are effective leaders and even leaders we should admire and perhaps emulate, but as with all things in life a certain amount of awareness is healthy. And part of what I mean to saay here is if we allow others to direct our every step it is unlikely we will end up in the same location as if the steps were our own. Good or bad place? That is the question is it not?

Reach said...

I completely agree with you, as I am and recognize other individuals. Our main problem is the person we follow, they must be a good follower themself to successfully lead. We do not have followers leading the way, I think they are operating on a personal agenda. With that in mind, my answer is "Bad".
How do we recognize a good follower trying to lead? I do not know the answer, but I do know when this person is successful, it will be "Good".

I am happy to see you immediately captured my humor.


Jenn said...

Sometimes, admittedly - I'll walk with the mob...but only if I agree with where they are going.

Now that I'm older and the awkward inner feelings around being different are gone or lessened - I find that the most difficult part of walking to the beat of my own drum is that when I do, I often go unheard due to the noise of the masses.

My latest example is the election. I would, perhaps, like to vote for a 3rd party candidate. However, I realize that by doing so - I basically take a vote away from someone who might actually win...thus risking that someone I don't want in Office will end up there.

So what's the answer?

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone - people want to feel they are heard....and sometimes going off the beaten path - nobody listens.

I figure I'll just teach my daughter how to march to her own beat...maybe someday there will be an answer.

Seven said...

"I figure I'll just teach my daughter how to march to her own beat...maybe someday there will be an answer."
I find that sentence very intriguing. I very much like the first half of the sentence. I'm not sure however that solutions are possible in the framework of 'herd mentality' and i say that simply because there will always be parts of the population that think in a lazy way and let their emotions and truths of others rule their choice/selection. But, maybe I am only being a pessimist. The fact that you want to teach 'little one' such concepts makes me smile. A big smile.
At the end of the day maybe it matters little if you have been heard, but only that you did it your way?

Jenn said...

I'll call you on your pessimism.

If we don't believe solutions are possible - what's the point anyway? I will always believe there is a solution.

I must. I have a child to raise...and she and her children will be here long after I am gone.

And if they believe....then there will be a solution.

I remember something I read a long, long time ago. Before I was mature enough to truly understand it. It has to do with not being in when we do something...don't just imagine the immediate results....but those results which will occur in 7 generations.

Maybe that's silly - but I try to think of things that way. My daughter and her children and their children will be the ones to see the results of my I better be damn sure I like the decisions I make. (Hence this massive scramble to correct the one I made with The Idiot.)

Ok. Long, opinionated ramble over.