America has always loved Magical Thinking. What would you call “Manifest Destiny” – the idea that a sky deity wanted white people to seize indigenous lands – except “magical thinking”? It’s ludicrous on its face. But then, all MT is!
Magical Thinking doesn’t care if it’s ludicrous. It has its own logic which is to say it has no logic. Instead, magical thinking makes everything up as it goes along. A magical thinker can think one thing one day and its diametric opposite the next day if that’s what the magic says.
In fairness, scientific thinkers can do the same thing. Though science insists Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is right, if Scientist X produced solid data that proved it wrong? We’d have to follow the data and rethink relativity. Magical Thinking would never face such a conundrum. Its response to new information is a blank stare.
Gosh how liberating it must be to know you can say anything, think anything and then say and think the exact opposite five minutes later just because “the spirit moved you”. Say, what does the spirit charge for a move anyway?
Where Ooga Meets Booga
The more religious you are, the more magic you rely on. Religions don’t look to math or science to answer their questions, they look to their deities. Alas, their deities don’t do math or science either. Instead, they do ooga-booga.
In red state America, magical thinking now legislates its nonsense. The entire abortion debate in America is the product of magical thinking with a side order of cynicism. Evangelicals and fundamentalists didn’t give a toss about “unborn babies” until after Roe v Wade was law. Hell – plenty of them were pro-abortion!
Back in the 1950’s and before, the Christian right were among the strongest proponents of segregation. When they finally lost the bussing battle, the Christian right looked around for another cause – something to bring in the bodies and the tithes. “Dead babies” won. The anti-abortion battle was on.
Same goes for the gun debate. It’s not reason or logic – or data – that guides America’s insane gun laws. It’s racism – which, itself, is magical thinking. For starters, can anyone find the word “own” in the Second Amendment. In legal documents (like the Constitution), neither “keep” nor “bear” can ever equal “own”. Keep and bear are rentals. Like a car or an apartment. A lease is not a deed.
But, in the gun debate, even words can be infected by MT. Somehow, we’ve allowed the gun lovers to bamboozle us. They’ve convinced America that even though “own” is conspicuously absent from the 2A, the 2A lets everyone own all the guns they want. Even Antonin Scalia – writing his Heller decision – knew there’s no individual gun ownership in the 2A. He himself religiously avoided the word “own” in his decision. He used “possess” instead – just once – in his closing.
Possess comes closer to own but it still isn’t the same thing. Not in a contract. And contracts, don’t forget, are all written in the same English as the Constitution – legaleze.
As we get to experience far too often in America, magical thinking will not solve our gun crisis. If anything, MT sits at the heart of our gun crisis.
What is “responsible gun ownership” if not Magical Thinking? Nancy Lanza thought she was a “responsible gun owner” up until the very moment her son Adam Lanza shot her to death with her own legally purchased, fully licensed firearm. Then Adam headed on out to Sandy Hook Elementary to put a bow on that bit of Magical Thinking.
So, how do we solve our MT crisis?
The quick fix would be to expunge religion from the human brain and replace it with reason and logic. That, alas, will never happen. To think it could – why, that’d be magical thinking.
The answer won’t be quick or easy. It could take a generation or two. But, we could also get lucky. As more people throw off the bonds of Magical Thinking (religion’s lost its hold on the majority of Americans), they’ll begin to see reality more and more for what it is.
More importantly, they’ll see their place in reality and their relationship to it. Then and only then will they be able to free themselves from the ravages of magical thinking.