Tuesday, November 14, 2017
[The Siege of Lisbon, by Roque Gameiro (1917)]
David Brooks has published an insightful warning of the mutually repelling characteristics of the true believers on both extremes of the political spectrum today. In today’s New York Times (here), Brooks calls this behavior the “Siege Mentality,” which “starts with a sense of collective victimhood” that feeds “a deep sense of pessimism” and “floats on apocalyptic fear.”
This approach is seductive, offering a kind of a false high that, like other misguided addictions, proves self-destruction: “The odd thing is that the siege mentality feels kind of good to the people who grab on to it. It gives its proponents a straightforward way to interpret the world — the noble us versus the powerful them.” But, in the end, “[g]roups smitten with the siege mentality filter out discordant facts and become more extreme versions of themselves, leading to further marginalization.”
Worst of all, those who surrender to the Siege Mentality lose their own souls, becoming the opposite of what they sincerely believed themselves to be at the beginning. “Evangelical Christians, for example, had a humane model for leadership — servant leadership — but, feeling besieged, they swapped it for Donald Trump, for gladiator pagan leadership.”
As Catholics, we need to remember that faithfully standing by what we think is right need not fall into a hateful disregard for those who disagree or a willingness to compromise our principles by temporary political alignments with those whose past conduct and present behavior display contempt for those very principles.