What We Say – What We Think

Cognitive dissonance.

No, no!  Don’t reach for the mouse yet.  This isn’t a post about difficult English words.  That will come a little later.  Cognitive dissonance is just a term to describe holding two conflicting opinions in your mind at the same time.  This happens in everyday life, but is most common in politics and religion.  The scientist who carbon-dates fossils goes to Catholic Church on Sunday, and Believes that the Earth was created seven thousand years ago.  It’s a delicate mental balance.  Some people are much better at it than others.  George Orwell, in his book 1984, described the process perfectly.  He also showed how people can be trained to change their opinions, without even noticing that they have been changed.

Having given a Christian example, I also have a couple of Canadian Muslim female examples.  The weekend paper had an article about The Veiled Vogue.  This is a new type of fashion show where the models are veiled, or head-scarfed Muslim women.  The clothing isn’t quite as outré or revealing as normal, but the point of the veil is supposed to be modesty.  It’s pretty hard to claim modesty, when you’re strutting your stuff, on the runway.

Speaking of modesty, I almost had a Muslim-modesty car-crash the other day.  I stopped at a red light, near a high-school.  Students streamed across the crosswalk in front of me.  Almost the last to cross on the green….well, it had gone to orange, but high-school students don’t give a damn, were three 14ish girls.  Two appeared “normal Canadian”.  The third, definitely a Muslim, was identifiable by the scarf concealing all of her head and neck, except the face.  This was two feet above a skirt which didn’t have quite as much fabric.  She buys her yellow panties at Muslims-R-Us.  I know.  If she wanted to look like a little slut, why didn’t she just do it like her two slutty girlfriends?  This outfit speaks two conflicting opinions at the same time.  Who’s she lying to?  Herself, or the rest of us.  Or both?

The Church has always been good at this type of two-faced, or two-brained stance.  One of the most obvious instances was Joan of Arc.  When she was winning battles and saving the country, she was a heroine.  When the war had been won, she was an embarrassment, able to do what the Church and its knights could not do.  Suddenly she was declared a heretic and burned at the stake.  A couple of hundred years later, when the Church needed heroes, especially outstanding women, in an organization too full of men, she was hauled out, dusted off, her “heresy” ignored, and she was raised to the status of saint.  The “unchanging” Church has many of these volte-faces, where conflicting positions rapidly reverse themselves, or where both are held at the same time.

In the Middle Ages, the Holy Catholic Church sold indulgences.  People with enough money could donate to the Church, and be forgiven their past sins.  This soon progressed to prepaying for sins which were anticipated to happen in the future.  Sort of a Cosmic Monopoly, get-out-of-Hell-free card.  The Church eventually realized, but didn’t publicly admit, that the selling of indulgences was immoral, and wrong.

Several hundred years have passed, and the Church’s revenues are going down as more and more people leave the Church, or can’t afford to pay the tithe.  Suddenly, indulgences are back.  This time, instead of giving money directly to the Church, those who wish to pay for play, can donate money and/or time and effort to Church-approved charities and projects.  See how different this way is from the old way?!  I guess immoral and wrong are actually okay – for the right price.

Priests diddle little boys, and little girls.  Family-values political figures hire hookers.  Anti-same-sex-marriage Senators have gay washroom assignations.  Flag-waving patriots are caught selling military secrets.  My head would explode from the stress of trying to go in two opposite directions at the same time.  It’s too bad some or all of these people couldn’t manage to do that.