A narcissistic mindset is running rampant in the world today. This year, let’s take a different perspective on Christmas amidst global conflict
This Christmas is like none other I’ve experienced. At a time when Palestinian babies are under assault, how can I celebrate the birth of a child in Bethlehem 2.000 years ago and pretend that everything is fine? I gather from the calls for Black Friday boycotts that I am not alone in this sentiment.
In a conversation with British talk show host Piers Morgan, comedian Bassem Youssef made the tongue-in-cheek comment that, “Dealing with Israel is so difficult. It’s like being in a relationship with a narcissistic psychopath.”
In reality, our entire economic structure is based on a pathological narcissistic mindset, from the dangerous sweatshops to the billionaire lifestyle, from the political corruption to the tax dollars wasted on weapons used to intimidate anyone who would dare object to being exploited.
Normal people are not narcissistic. We work together, listen to each other, and resolve our differences in a way that benefits all. Narcissists can never admit when they are wrong, and when challenged, they become enraged. They defend, attack the victim, and then insist that they are the victim.
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Narcissists also recruit others to be their “flying monkeys,” a term that comes from the story “The Wizard of Oz.” The wicked witch uses these characters to do her dirty work, just as corporations use high-priced lawyers, governments use their militaries, and individuals use armed guards. Like earlier dictators, they also use the “bread and circuses” approach to pacify ordinary people and get them to fall in line.
Another common tactic of narcissists is to engage in abusive behaviour when no one is looking, making the victim helpless to resist. It is likely not coincidental, for example, that warlords in the Democratic Republic of the Congo increased their assault on ordinary civilians at a time when the world was focused on the violence in Gaza. The conflict in the Congo is funded by foreign mining and electronics conglomerates. It has resulted in over six million deaths, countless rapes, and millions more displaced persons.
Today, we have more refugees and displaced persons than ever before. We see our neighbours all over the world living in temporary shelters, ravaged by rain and cold, knowing that outbreaks of diseases and further violence are inevitable.
How can ordinary people even begin to change the system? The key is understanding the narcissistic mindset. What a narcissist fears most is losing control. With growing awareness of the lies and manipulation that fuel wars, ordinary people have taken to the streets and have refused to co-operate. They have changed their consumption of media and will likely vote very differently in future elections. The flying monkeys are in panic mode, going after individual resistors and trying to ruin their lives. We understand that this behaviour is to be expected, however, so it is having little impact.
The other thing feared by a narcissist is insignificance. Christmas is the most profitable time of year for corporations. If ordinary people don’t engage in excessive consumerism, it can be seen as a form of “grey rocking,” being indifferent to narcissistic calls for attention.
This Christmas, the only decoration in my home will be an olivewood carving of the nativity scene crafted in Palestine. The focus will be on gathering together and enjoying the company of loved ones.
Groups that serve refugees are in dire need of funding to help the beautiful people who have been impacted by global conflict. Many of them have Christmas gift selections such as shelters, blankets, and medical supplies that will save lives. These can be donated in the name of a loved one, and this is where many are choosing to focus their giving.
This Christmas, we all face a choice. Will we remain part of the narcissistic system that is destroying the lives of our neighbours, or will we step away and be part of the solution?
Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.
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