Americans have been known as down-to-earth, practical, realistic people. Most of them still are.
But the exciting character-traits of being an “American-Original”, “one-of-a-kind”, “maverick”, “trend-setter”, etc… were always part of their nature too, seducing and propelling at least some of them towards constantly seeking new frontiers: physical, social and cultural.
All admirable manifestations of the well-known “American Individualism” and with no down-side. Or so, we thought…
Conversely, to my knowledge Americans have not been known to be delusional. Highly optimistic perhaps, embodying a “can do” spirit more than any other nation, but not delusional. Yet something seems to have changed lately. More and more of them are now behaving DELUSIONAL in a major way.
What happened? What were the cultural forces and culprits that might be responsible for this change, this worrisome, even dangerous drift?
Over the last several decades, a number of forces in the American culture converged and conspired towards this worrisome change I’d like to call here the DELUSIONAL DRIFT, (lets abbreviate it as DD ).
Two major contributing factors to the acceleration of the DD lately can be identified as:
1- Hollywood’s highly escapist/fantasy movies, blockbuster-sequences often based on comic-books are now having their juvenile effect on the minds of the adults too, especially those who grew up with them. Where does the fantasy end, and where does the reality start? Getting difficult for some to tell.
2- Thanks to the Internet and Social-Media, everybody is now a mini-celebrity (way beyond Andy Warhol’s brilliant, tongue-in-cheek “15 minutes” prediction). Motivational/Inspirational “Gurus” are fast spreading over the delusional-cyberspace with impunity.
As far as the major individual instigators and culprits go who helped accelerate the DD in the last several decades, I’d like to single out 3 big names. There are many other, lesser-known contributors, and going back further than a few decades of course, but here I’d like to highlight these 3 well-known individuals of more recent times.
In spite of their otherwise good work, service and positive contributions to America, their unfortunate contribution to the DD is undeniable. Here are their NAMES and WHY they made my short list of three:
Practicing too much Evangelical hype and wishful thinking about how good things are or could be, only if one believed in Jesus Christ.
While the modern historians casted more and more doubt on the existence of a historic Jesus, let alone the authenticity of his life and teachings as generally told, Mr.Graham relentlessly preached and sold a “Cure-for-all Christ” to the vulnerable public. Possibly paving the way to “Mega-Churches”, “Televangelism” and “Prosperity Gospel”. Speaking of religion being the opium of the masses, Mr.Graham did more than his fair share spreading the addiction.
Oversimplifying the complex problems of America and the World. Reducing them to a short slogan/sound-bite (Politicians often benefit from this approach), while side-stepping the hard and tedious but necessary work of detailed study, research and in-depth analysis and discussion.
Making non-scientific thinking fashionable (as in his fondness for astrology). Often being openly dismissive of science, if not blatantly hostile to it.
Exhibiting unjustified, exaggerated, naive optimism, and trying to infect everyone with it (in a nice, grandfatherly way, I must admit). Earning the nickname the “Great Communicator”, but of what? Often of his intuitions, dogmatic-beliefs and figments of his wishful-thinking.
Operating under the influence of Alzheimer (early stages of it he and his handlers successfully hid from the public, during his 2-term Presidency)
Seriously promoting Magical Thinking (as in her support of the nonsensical philosophy of “The Secret” by the self-help guru Rhonda Byrne). With good intentions of course, but it’s still magical thinking any way you cut it, easily paving the way to delusional thinking in many vulnerable people.
Relentlessly championing a feel-good, high self-esteem philosophy for all, even for those with no accomplishments of any kind to show for (punctuated often by her rewarding (bribing?) the audience of her highly-popular TV talk-show with a gift strategically hidden under their seats, for example)
JUST TO REITERATE: In spite of their unfortunate contributions to the DELUSIONAL DRIFT in their own ways, the good work and service of Graham, Reagan and Winfrey still deserve our respect and gratitude. And, I’m happy to give them plenty of both.
Question: Would it be too harsh and unkind to call them DELUSIONISTS? If so, I apologize for doing so.
Mr. DONALD TRUMP is now both a big beneficiary and a propagator of the DD, himself. He got elected riding the wave of the DD which he willfully contributed and propagated, especially among his die-hard supporters (his “Base’ who still is caught up in the delusion that he is a great president). At times, he exhibits the signs of being highly delusional, himself.
Mueller’s final report is likely to put an end to his shameful and disastrous presidency soon. But, Mr.Trump’s damage to the Country and the World will last much longer. So will his “savior” status among his die-hard supporters (I’ve been calling them GNECs: Gullible, Naive and Educationally-Challenged). And, the legacy of his unique contribution to the DELUSIONAL DRIFT we’re sadly experiencing in America today.
May peace be upon us all.
Celik Kayalar, PhD.
Writer, Director, Producer of THE TRAFFICK
Former research-associate and faculty at MIT, UC Berkeley and UCLA, in chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology.
How America Went Haywire
A 500-Year History
Written by KURT ANDERSON
Random House, 2017