As we approach the holidays I always wonder about the stories and myths we tell our kids. Being Jewish we create a holiday as kids would not feel bad about not having Christmas so we light candles for 8 days and give presents call it (Hanukkah – how ever you want to spell it. We tell the story about the miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days and that is why we celebrate for 8 nights and light 8 candles. My favorite story involves religion and Abe Lincoln (https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/uploads/LincolnandLeonids.pdf) Where Abe is woken up by an innkeeper saying the world is going to end. The innkeeper believes this as based on his religion he heard the stories that the end of the world starts with stars falling from the sky. Abe looks outside, sees the constellations he knows are there, knows its the 33 year Leonids meteor shower and goes back to bed. The world ending, the oil burning for 8 days we eventually learn the truth.
Are these flat out lies? What is the reason behind them? Why do we perpetuate them? And do these stories of fiction make us believe everything else we these group tell us. But this is not about religion but groups as it is not just religion that tell stories. Because groups do the same thing. Whether it is political, race, countries, schools, teams, cultural. There is this notion that we need to see ourselves not only as part of a group, but part of the group that is “better” than the other group. By being part of the better group we feel special.
Fans of teams repeat we are the best, and the other teams stink. This repetition goes on and on all season long. (Well unless you are a Jet fan, then other than one random year you could not say this.) Yet technically only one team can win a championship each year, the other 30 or so teams can’t be the best. Repeating we are the best over and over, the same way cults have people repeat things, the same way we see hypnosis is portrayed does not make it true. People will hate this comparison, but the Nazi’s did it that way, and other groups stated to claim superiority over another. And who wants to belong to the inferior group. Does anyone ever say to themselves, let us join the group that is not that good. No we want to be with the group that wins or perceived as being better. That notion of feeling special. Furthermore losing is one of the hardest things to accept, it is never because the other team was better that day, its is often do to some “other” reason. In sports the refs, luck etc. In the 2016 election Trump was “not their president” and we should abolish the electoral college in the 2020 election were “it was stolen” from the Trumpers. People have a difficult time accepting a loss.
I didn’t know it, but something a good friend told me in High School has stayed with me. I didn’t really have a “group.” I was not really associated with a set of people who I fit in with. Not due to lack of trying, I once bought some tennis teammates munchkins after they kidnapped me in their car, and probably did other things that were just plain stupid to belong. But nothing I did would stick, as that wasn’t the true me. The true me would always show up, and that was not to be part of a group but to myself.
Which is why now I struggle sometimes to feel special, or to be a part of something. I have friends, but I don’t have a group. I have great friends, and would not trade it for the world. But I don’t belong to a religious group (I have a personal belief that religion is the greatest thing man ever created) – Political group (the current 2 system doesn’t really fit any of my beliefs) – I really don’t see anything were I fall in line with the thinking of the group. By the way I voted third party since Ross Perot. Not being in a group gives me lots of time to think, as I don’t have to blindly believe the group think. I can question any statement from any group as being false, I don’t need to blindly believe anything.
But this gets my back to my original thought, groups lie. The driver is to make people feel special, and better than the person next to them. People like to feel special, like to feel this belonging, and these stories that are created if they strike a chord get people into the group. Not to say everything a group says is false, as much of what they do stay is true. Maybe this does not relate to fans of sport teams, as again there is only one best. How do we separate ourselves from these untruths? How do we suddenly learn about Santa, Hanukkah, or any. other story? When do we actually learn the lesson thru the story and tell the story as a fable. Tell it with the same verve and heart, but not to put another group down.
But I know that is not going to happen. The older I get the more I realize the human psychology is not what I thought about being herd (having to be with other people) but more that has to be with being better than someone, the notion of feeling special. And this feeling of being special is hard to do by yourself, it is in relation to someone else. I wish people could feel special just being themselves and not in relation to others, but it is not going to happen. We will continue to find groups that tell us if we join we are special, me I will hope I can not get sucked in (which isn’t easy to do) to feel special. If we are in a group, that we don’t fall in line with everything they say and question things. Whether political, religious, cultural etc. we need to find the truth, and learn from the stories, not believe the stories and ignore the truth.
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