I was piling the food from my grocery cart onto the cashier?s conveyor when the headline caught my eye; one of the tabloids next to the checkout announced ?Now It Can Be Told: Saddaam and Osama?s Gay Wedding!? Beneath the headline was a ?photograph? of Saddaam Hussain in a suit, walking down the aisle with Osama Bin Ladin, tastefully attired in a long, white bridal gown.
I was piling the food from my grocery cart onto the cashier’s conveyor when the headline caught my eye; one of the tabloids next to the checkout announced “Now It Can Be Told: Saddaam and Osama’s Gay Wedding!” Beneath the headline was a “photograph” of Saddaam Hussain in a suit, walking down the aisle with Osama Bin Ladin, tastefully attired in a long, white bridal gown.
I had to wonder: who buys these papers or believes these nutty stories? But then I stopped to consider that the real news is hardly less weird.
In California, the circus that is the recall election is the logical result of years and years of political rhetoric suggesting that government is undesirable, if not unnecessary, and that experience in public office or knowledge of how government works should be viewed as negatives in a political campaign. The fact that Arnold Schwartzenegger had to learn the meaning of the word “infrastructure” becomes evidence of his fitness for office.
In Washington, the Administration has demonstrated its devotion to “faith-based” programs by giving $475,280 of our tax dollars to the Moonies. According to a recent article in Salon, Free Teens USA is an after-school celibacy program run by the Unification Church. Martin Porter, director of the program, who holds a PhD and MBA from a correspondence school, was formerly “Moon’s Man in Canada.” The Unification Church does preach celibacy before marriage; it also prescribes how married people should behave. (A picture of Moon must be nearby, and “after love” a Holy Handkerchief must be used.)
Sense doesn’t seem to be any more common here in Indiana. When the legislature failed to pass a bill during the last session that would have tightened Medicaid eligibility, those administering the program applied the stricter standards anyway. When they were threatened with a lawsuit, they admitted they weren’t following the law, but refused to do anything about the people who had been illegally denied coverage. Our tax dollars will now pay for litigation of a violation that no one disputes.
In 1994, Harvard University Professor Robert Kegan wrote a book that may just explain why the world seems so wacky. In Over Our Heads compares the evolving complexity of a child’s mind to similar stages in the capacities of adults. Kegan believes that human development is in part a response to the changing demands of social environments, that the skills required for living a coherent life in modern western societies are different from those required by simpler, tribal cultures. We become more complex as the demands of our environment require such complexity.
Kegan describes five stages of adult mental development, and notes that few if any of us have reached stage five. Modernity, he says, requires that we operate at stage four—and most Americans remain at stage three.
I don’t know if Kegan is right, but it sure would explain a lot of things that are otherwise really hard to explain. Like Sadaam and Osama’s gay wedding.