Wow. Today’s news is that a rumor won’t go away. According to a new Newsweek poll, a majority of Republicans believe that Obama “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world.” This, of course, follows closely on the heels of the thought that Obama is a Muslim, apparently a belief that many people share (despite his being in trouble for supporting a pastor in the United Church of Christ at his home church — not mosque, not temple, not synagogue.) This follows on the heels of “Obama’s a socialist, interested in destroying the economy” (he was pushing for healthcare reform after a Republican president destroyed the economy with an illegal war. This follows on the heels of “Obama isn’t an American — he was born outside of the country” (in Hawaii).
Normally, I wouldn’t care if a small bunch of wackos believed in this conspiracy theory or that, or if people simply misunderstood some fact or another, but if today’s news is any indication, this is not a small bunch of anybody. The Republican Party is a large organization — in our two-party system, they’re one half of American politics! If more than half of them believe that our president is sympathetic to the very people we are at war with (“Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world”), that means that One -in- Four people in America believe something — despite all appearances to the contrary — that simply isn’t true!
Is it any wonder the president can’t get anything done if people in the Congress can’t even agree about reality itself? On one hand, I want to be the first person to coin the phrase “Reality Gap” — as in “We have a reality Gap inn America today”. On the other hand, I don’t want there to be a reality gap. Why? For a number of reasons. The first is that I don’t want to believe that 25% of America is crazy. When people believe something, despite all appearances\factual evidence to the contrary, they are — by definition — crazy. The percentage of the population which already has a mental health diagnosis is “up there”, but to have this many people with one diagnosis is really strange, bordering on mass hysteria (if we’re not there already).
For those of us who look at facts, (Obama’s born in Hawaii, a Christian, a Democrat, trying to fix the economy, and at war with Islamic extremists), this feels “crazy-making”. If America were the family that Mr. Obama thinks it is, he is sadly mistaken. Or, if we are a family, we’re quite a dysfunctional one right now, with a lot of crazy brothers and sisters.
As a therapist, I can tell you that it’s not easy to know how to deal with delusional disordered people without meds. Do you acknowledge the correct beliefs and build on the truth and your relationship or do you simply not acknowledge under any circumstances what the person is saying (the White House’s current strategy) or do you fight the lies by telling people the truth/reminding them of the facts? It depends on the level of obsession and the damaging impact that the beliefs have. If somebody who lived next to Mary their whole lives believes that Mary is from Mars, they have the right to their beliefs, unless: 1) It hurts them to do so; 2) they spend their whole day thinking about Mary being from Mars; 3) if they attack Mary because she’s from Mars; or 4) they have the power to control things and make everybody in their family feel nutty.
In an addicted family, by the way, family members feel crazy when the addicted person tells them things that don’t seem true, but the family can’t prove them. The more the person lies, the more crazy the non-crazy family members feel. Why does the addict lie — particularly about their drug use? Because as long as you’re still arguing about reality, nobody has to fix anything. The addict doesn’t need to go to detox and fix themselves, as long as the family still holds out hope that they are not lying about their sobriety. So, where the addict here, if the analogy holds? I think it’s people who are addicted to money or power or a way of life — pure capitalism (money), for instance, or White, Male Supremacy (power) or the belief that life begins and ends at the mall (a way of life) or some other distortion of reality that no longer works that I can’t put my finger on. (Yes, to my conservative friends, that could be pure Communism (power, money, and a way of life), but in this case, it’s not). In the meantime, Americans are starving, losing their houses, losing their jobs, afraid of terrorists, arguing over immigration and civil rights, wondering about the meaning of religion in politics, and so many other things. While they struggle and/or die, we argue about reality. Thanks but no, I don’t want that on my conscience.
In any case, as an individual, I just don’t get it and I don’t want to feel nutty, so I have choices. I think I’m going to go with relaying the facts as often as I possibly can. I may get a bumper sticker that says, “Obama’s born in Hawaii, a Christian, a Democrat, trying to fix the economy, and at war with Islamic extremists”. I’ll start by saying it here — Obama was born in Hawaii. He is a Christian, He is a Democrat, He is trying to fix the economy (a difficult thing, at best), and he set the policy that we are at war with Islamic extremists.
Just thought I’d mention it.