Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why Do They Apologize for Mourning?

Many people grieving Jack Layton online (especially in the first few days on the Globe and CBC websites) began with "I didn't vote for him, but" or "I don't agree with his politics, but" and other similar statements.  What's with the disclaimers?

I suppose there are many reasons for the need to modify our feelings and statements by first apologizing for them.  My most generous interpretation is that those apologizing for grieving are surprised at the depth of their own feelings -- given their past non-support for Jack Layton or the NDP.  The disclaimers also seem defensive and self-protective (glossing over an underlying fear).  Yes, I respect the goodness of Jack -- but I don't want you to see me as a socialist.

It is so hard for humans to hold contrary beliefs at the same time.  Their brains hurt when they think something like this:
  • Jack Layton was a good man, but
  • Socialists are bad, but
  • Jack was a socialist, therefore
  • Jack was bad - except that he was good.
When faced with opposites, people experience a kind of cognitive dissonance or bad music in the brain.  The disclaimer helps them live with the two opposing thoughts -- but prevents them from examining the underlying assumptions.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the uncomfortable nature of mortality increases the desire to be self-protective.

    When a peer is struck down, we cling to our beliefs with the intensity of a small child and his/her blankie, knowing that those views may be all we are. To ally ourselves with the deceased is in some small part admitting to our own eventual demise, and the fragility of the dreams we all tend like so many fires.

    We all come to praise Ceasar, as we bury Ceasar, and continue to remind ourselves...

    better him than us