Thursday, March 8, 2012

morality play

The passive observer of human drama instinctively looks for someone to identify with. Who's the good guy in this story? To care at all about a story is to find some kind of rooting interest. 

Children grow up watching drama every day -- at home, at school, on TV, everywhere. They're passive long before they're active. They're acted upon. Someone has to fight their fights for them because they're weak. Someone has to get them food, not kill them, not let them be killed.

Children want their adults to be good, to be committed to them, to share their perceptions of things, to do what they would do in the same circumstances. They see in the adult -- their protagonist -- a more powerful version of themselves, regardless of what that person does or what their motives are. The weak do not get to decide. The adult's motives become the child's.

Morality is projected onto every meaningful event of childhood. The good guys are self, the bad guys other.

Adult spectatorship relies on this childlike capacity to project. When you are helpless to change anything, you fall into the old patterns.

I saw this sentence from someone who'd just argued that Bush was the Patriot Act guy, therefore worse than Obama:
I'm not trying to make the argument that either of the last two presidents has been great on privacy.   
Well, the idea that either of the last two presidents wanted to be "great on privacy" assumes that they think like you do, that they're your protagonist.

They are not. They are not. They are not.

Friend 1: "You're not very good at letting me eat that hamburger."
Friend 2, eating hamburger: "I don't want you to eat it. I want it."
Friend 1: "Yeah, but you're not good at letting me eat it!"
Friend 2: "Don't I have to be trying to do something to be good or not good at it?"

From a non-projected perspective, Obama has been great on privacy. He thinks you should have as little as possible, apparently, and he's doing a good job at achieving his goal.

And to the 5 year-old who thinks her parents could be doing a better job of letting her go to bed whenever she wants: they want you in bed at 9!

No comments: