There is a maxim within which I use to freely quote to my Christian friends: “If you look for a demon underneath a rock or your sofa’s pillow, chances are there is one who will oblige you.” The point is that one conjures such things when one looks for them, when there were none there to begin with. That is, when we search for evidence of demons, more often than not it is in our searching for them that produces them in the first place.
And while this has its application within the spiritual world, it also is a truism when applied to more mundane activity as well. Such is the case with paranoia and prejudice. I might have a prejudice against dogs, for example, so instead of observing the animals as they are, I apply my filter of prejudice against them and view them within the light of my own misconceptions. In doing so, I will attempt to fulfill all my expectations tainted by my prejudice-- let’s say prejudice would be that all dogs are uncontrollably aggressive.
Now, say a dog barks at me; it could be happy, it could be hungry. My prejudice, however, interprets the barking as aggressive and is suspected as a precursor to a vicious attack. I am looking for demons where none dwell, except in my own mind and paranoia. Soon I will convince myself that this barking dog is out of control and should be put down before it ravages me or someone else. Now I hit the dog on the nose when it barks, and yell at it harshly because I have convinced myself that it is threatening me. Soon, the dog responds negatively to my approach, and now I have justified to myself that this dog is out of control, when the fact is I am the one out of control and I am out of touch with reality.
This is a mild form of madness. It is a means by which we desire, consciously or subconsciously, to bring to life that which occupies our imagined fears so that we may face them on our terms. The tragedy is, such imagined fears are rooted in our prejudice and fueled by our paranoia, and are not grounded in the real world at all. Certainly, we all have some kind justifications for our prejudices and paranoia: I may have been bitten at some point by a dog in the past, which might justify caution and concern in the future, but it does not justify taking extreme measures in the present acting upon fears of the past. Striking at all barking dogs, or insisting they all be put down based upon mere prejudice then has the fearful implications of we becoming the very demon that we believe we are suppressing. We have now become the out of control predator, with the worse addition that we have self-justified ourselves to do things beyond what may be considered civil.
And once we have made that transition, cross the lines of reason and rationality, we then must continue to fuel this unreality with further justifications in order to perpetuate the aberrant actions to bestow upon it some evidence of validation to ourselves. In order to do so, we are willing to accept the unfounded, unconventional and even the bizarre not because it is self-evident in nature but only upon the virtue that it is consistent with our prejudices and paranoia do we believe it to be true. So I might fixate upon an 18th century account of a dog-pack attack upon a German hamlet community in which all the town folk were killed as clinching evidence that all dogs are naturally antagonistic towards humans. Details of the account that the dogs were exposed to some diseased food which caused the attack are ignored, not because it is necessarily unfounded, but because it is inconsistent with the prejudiced reality I have built for myself and desire to maintain, even at the cost of accuracy of facts. So I throw this true fact out of consideration because it is antithetical to my agenda, and my prejudice is preserved.
So I have found that within this context, then, the only thing more satisfying than discovering a demon hiding where we had expected one to be all along (where none was in the first place), is finding the imagined justification within our own prejudice and paranoia to BECOME that demon, and indulge in all the activity bestowed accordingly to the detriment and sacrifice of civility, and especially at the denial of what is real and true.
And that is very sad and tragic.
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