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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Culture of Narcissism

Periodically in life there is a confluence of events that serves to place an issue in sharp focus. Often those events are at first blush quite disparate from each other. Case in point...the recent Detroit Pistons/Indy Pacers melee, Michael Newdow's latest venture (remember him? the lawyer-doctor who pushed the "under God" ban from the Pledge), NFL football end zone celebrations and major league baseball inside pitches. Having been a rabid sports fan for some time now...I remember Joe Willie's "guarantee" of victory before Super Bowl III as my first true sports-fan moment...I have observed first hand the degeneration of the ethic of sportsmanship and class. The "sack dances" in the NFL begot the end zone dances that have become de rigeur these days with each knucklehead trying to outdo the prior. The rise of trash-talking in the NBA now elevated to an art-form (yes I know there has always been some, but nothing like it is now). The glares and stares anytime a batter is pitched inside. What do all these have in common with each other and Michael Newdow? They all reflect the increasing to critical levels of the contaminant of narcissism in our society. The "look at me, look at me!" self-absorption of the chronologically adult but emotionally stunted for whom it isn't enough to simply go about their business. The cult of self-esteem gone awry when everything is a personal affront that must be confronted lest "manhood" be impugned. The inability to simply prevail over an opponent without having to punctuate the point in the event the whole world may not have noticed. What does this have to do with Michael Newdow? Think about it. His first effort at 15 minutes of fame was certainly manipulated inasmuch as he did not have custody over his daughter consequently lacking standing to pursue the issue (as was ultimately found by the U.S. Supreme Court) and, more importantly, she was not offended by the words in the Pledge. The important thing is that he was supposedly offended. Period. End of story. Who cares if not many share your view. The important thing is to shove yourself down everyone's collective throat..."look at me, look at have no choice but to pay attention to me."

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