Miller-McCune’s story about conspiracy theorists got me thinking about projection. That’s the psychological mechanism wherein we each think the other guy is us. We believe that he/she has the same motives, same ideas, same approaches that we do. In other words, we project ourselves onto other people.
As a human being, I engage in projection just like we all do. It’s something I try to guard against because it doesn’t provide me with an accurate view of reality, and I believe that being in touch with the real world is necessary for me to practice goodness.
As a lesbian, I’m also the subject of tons of projection, specifically projection involving the fear that I’m part of a vast conspiracy to destroy other people, which brings me back to the magazine story. The Miller-McCune story cites studies hinting that conspiracy theorists may believe that everyone is out to get them because they themselves are out to get others, or more accurately: They believe in conspiracies because they’d be perfectly happy to engage in a conspiracy themselves. This has frightening implications for LGBT people and for the practice of goodness.
Like all LGBT folks, I’m forever being accused of being out to get other people. Opponents of equal rights declare over and over again that I want to recruit their children, destroy their churches and crush their way of life. Which is pretty funny in a tragic, we’re-all-doomed kinda way because I never have, never will, don’t have an iota of interest in doing any of those things.
If the studies Miller-McCune cites are correct, however, then the fears of the anti-gay right come, at least in part, from their projection of their motives onto me. Isn’t that a delightful thought. They think I want to crush them because they want to crush me? (Excuse me while I unclench myself from the fetal position.)
Beside from worries about my personal future, this idea leads me to wonder about the future of goodness. I believe in the Golden Rule. I believe in compassion for others. It’s hard enough for me to bring myself to do unto others as I would have them do unto me when I know that the they oppose my legal rights, but what about their capacity for doing right? What kind of goodness can these anti-gay folks put into the world?
Time to stop now. I’m giving myself a headache.