As Election 2016, mercifully comes to an end, a new reality is dawning. From those with just the slightest interest in politics to those who make a living in that world, we’re surrounded by narcissists. They’re on our television, our radio, our social media feeds, in our neighborhood, our circle of friends, even our churches? What does that say about us? My gut feeling it isn’t good.
Years ago I began writing about something I called the culture of envy. Putting all the symptoms together, it seemed to me that the root of many problems is the belief that “other people” have it better than you do. Worse yet, even those devout in their worship of Capitalism and success, we have found were really only referring to themselves.
We’ve allowed people, friends, family and others to convince us that “we’re all on the same team”, roughly translated in 2016, that means, “we’re all in this together unless, I can figure out a way to stomp on all your heads or you become inconvenient for me.”
From political allies to life-long friends, 2016 has highlighted the year of “It’s not about You, It’s about Me!” I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain this is how we ended up here in the first place.
This goes beyond the election though, in a culture that mocks the Kardashians for being over-exposed, even blamed for the downfall of “society”, I rarely hear or read anything about their strong religious beliefs, their mantra of “Family First” or the reality of the generations of wealth they have created. A family headed by a Matriarch in Kris Jenner, that is both reviled and feared within the industry. By far the worst attacks on this family of celebrities, come from those who claim to wave the flag of capitalism. They do so without any sense of irony, as they condemn “class warfare” from the Democrats.
This culture of envy has extended into our everyday lives, the old “Keeping Up with the Jones” joke, now also includes, because the Jones’ probably cheated to get what they have, and who says they deserve it anyway. Big change from the original idea.
We all want to be liked whether we admit it or not, some people join groups, or find friends that not only share their same interests, but more importantly share their same need for validation through confirmation bias. Society has now created a market for this very logic.
The death of critical thinking has cost us much.
Maybe this election put a big orange spotlight on America’s problem with envy, it’s also revealed that people are willing to attack, defile and abandon those who don’t revere them as the magical , special creature they are, that is the definition of Narcissism. They only want to hear what makes them feel good, confirming their own self adoration. This reminds me of a famous quote, from arguable the most narcissistic man to ever live, Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
We only want to stare into the puddle that will tell us how right we are, how beautiful, how principled, how loyal and if that puddle reflects something entirely different, we stomp through that puddle and seek another more pleasing one.
With respect to the mythology, it’s not the only example given to us, some in the most unexpected places. “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Whose the fairest of them all?” When the wicked queen would ask, we recoiled at her vanity and desire for power. Her feeling of “deserving” something she had not earned, now all the wicked queens get their own movie, so we can understand how the Wicked are really the victims in the story. Implied lesson: Stop being so judgy to all the villains. You’re too emotionally stunted to see that evil can be good.
Maybe it’s time to put away the puddle, the enchanted mirror and look at ourselves through the eyes of others. See what they see, listen to their stories, ideas and recognize that none of us are without fault. All of us are redeemable, but only if we care to seek it out. If we choose to ignore it, it will continue to consume us all.
Narcissism is a cancer that leaks into our friendships, our work and our lives. It’s unhealthy not only for us as individuals, but even more dangerous for us as country. As I’m no expert on religion, I won’t get into what it is doing to our souls, however it’s something worth considering. We invited this affliction into every aspect of our world, so it will take real soul searching to carve it out of the Nation’s conscience.
But as they say, admitting it is the first step.