Some years ago I walked into the home of a friend who had a religious program playing on TV. He made a comment about the program and then caught a subtle reaction from me, that I intended to keep hidden. He responded, "Why don't you like him?" I answered that I did not even know the TV evangelist, but I did think he had a sexual problem. My friend asked why I thought that and I responded, "Projection. He sees sexual problems everywhere. That is his central theme." Sure enough, several months later, the scandal broke.
Psychology has long seen the problem of the human family seeing in others what is centrally the focus of the one doing the seeing. The color of our glasses determines the reality we see in our world. We all live on the same planet and are confronted by a similar physical world, yet the focus of people and groups of people are so divergent that one might think we each came from a different planet. Sometimes I wonder.
I have been interested in and amused by the Occupation Protesters. Does anyone else see the dichotomy of this phenomenon? I am still not sure of the total scope of their issues, but there is a common thread in most of the protests. They are against greed and the accumulation of wealth. There is a strong thread of animosity toward the free market and capitalism. It is there that the whole issue of projection amuses me.
One the one hand there is the presumed evil person or group of people (corporations), who evidence their evil by accumulating wealth, which is demonstrated against. The point: 'Share the evil with me!' Those who are against what they see as greed, seem to stand ready to alleviate the greed by their focus on it and willingness to spread the evil greed around. Is this greed over greed? Yes, I think I see some projection here.
Whether it is being prejudiced against prejudiced people or greedy toward greedy people, it is a double edged sword. It says far more about the protester than it does that which they protest against. Greed, in any form and at any level, is greed nonetheless.
By simple definition greed is excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. By observation, those who are demonstrating and those who are the object of the demonstrations, if we affirm the assumptions of the demonstrators, only have greed itself in common. The process of having the wealth that is presumed as evil, is vastly different. For those who have it, the process of getting it is to attain it. For the demonstrators, the process is to simply obtain it. One process is to earn it. The other is to have it given by the good will of the evil people or, presumably, to have government intervene and take it away from them.
It is interesting to explore the complications of this situation and to try to force the reasoning into a logical matrix. So far, I have failed to find a way to do that. Possibly my problem here is that I do not start with a zero/sum view of economics. The earth has grown in human population from thousands in the days of Abraham to over 6 billion today, and yet we live better and have more possessions than ever before. We can only conclude that the sum of the economic pie expands as value is created and that someone who creates value is not taking my share away from me.
The premise that the economic pie is finite and that someone taking more than me, is somehow immoral and evil simply cannot be successfully argued. There is nothing that says I cannot bake my own pie. Why would I resent others who have? Some of today's most successful enterprises did not even exist forty years ago. Predictably, forty years from now, the landscape of our business community will have changed again, because of the ingenuity of those who will yet be baking new economic pies. So you see, I do not understand the greed over greed scenario, when there is a whole new world of economic wonder yet to be created.
What I do understand is that they who stand still in reaction to those who do not, will never know the fulfillment of a life free of greed, envy and contrasts, because evil is in the eye of the beholder. Fulfillment comes when any person acts out their own dreams and finds the recipe for their own pie and has little time for envy, greed, or the resentment of inaction.
David Fritsche, Th.D. has played many roles in life; as a Police Officer for the City of Colton, CA, as a corporative executive with General Motors and, for 27 years was Pastor of Life Center Church in Reno, NV.