Saturday, October 22, 2011

Psychology Today: Enemies Enhance the Meaning of Life

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-big-questions/201110/enemies-enhance-the-meaning-life

I suppose pertinent to my recent discussions of how the narrative we create for our lives can guide and shape us without our examining the nature of that narrative, here we are, observations (a bit too general for my taste) about how having enemies gives meaning to life.  The enemy may be specific (let's say that Batman has the Joker and Superman has Lex Luthor).  Or the enemies may be generic, like al Qaeda, or the Republican or Democratic parties, or maybe laws that restrict marriage to heterosexuals or laws that deal with intellectual property, or maybe a particular religious institution like the Roman Catholic church ... or religion in general or atheism in general. 

It is one of the things that has flourished in the wake of things like "worldview" discussions and has helped to catalyze "culture war", whether on behalf of a religious right conception of the just society or the secular left conception of a just society.  It's just preferable to not imagine that a just society includes one or the other, depending on what one wishes to imagine. The enemy can be seen to embody opposing values in some way or form and one's opposition can become a way of simplifying the world.  I admit that I can see how from the perspective of a secular progressive both a Christian and a Muslim will look pretty much the same in their opposition to a secular state in which religious views are not made the foundation of a just society. 

The Christian and the Muslim will not see things this way in many cases.  In fact a Christian may be least likely now, if he is a conservative or a neo-conservative, to see the correspondence.  But in the midst of the Cold War, particularly during the Reagan years, a Muslim in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets was an ally where as now ... well, the enemy of my enemy is no longer my friend once our common enemy has fallen.  As a certain pastor in Idaho once put it, today's political problems are generally the result of yesterday's political solutions. On that much we can certainly agree.

P.S.  I know I'm posting just link after link and I'd like to be more productive and coming up with stuff but I've been sick this week.  My main priority in writing has had to be cover letters and resumes.  If you find you're tired, have slight aches in your joints, feel a bit weak, and occasionally have to cough up green sputum it can really kill the literary impulse.  I'm surprised I've gotten as much written this week as I have!

And I feel like a chump because I've stalled (again!) in my esays about Batman for Mockingbird.  In my unhappy defense needing eye surgery, having some kind of nasty cold, being unemployed, dealing with medical bills, and attempting to continue the job hunt in the midst of all that does constitute a pretty powerful set of distractions.  Still, God willing I can get over this bug sooner rather than later and get back to writing stuff that doesn't involve pleading for kindness from medical billing offices or making a case for why this unemployed broke guy with bad eyes could use cataract removal surgery.

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