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  • Reverend James Squire

They Have Lost Their Minds

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

Do you remember when you first fell in love? Love can make you crazy. I have worked with young people for many years. On occasion there were times when they exhibited crazy behavior that their parents, friends, and teachers couldn’t understand. I heard the statements “They have turned into someone else”, “They are not operating in the real world”, and “I just don’t get it”. It is a description of a normal person gone wrong. I found out an interesting correlation after I was living in the world of the adolescent for long a time. On many occasions, they had lost their mind. Parents, friends, and teachers worried about them. I found that in many cases they were “in love”.

The faculty referred these “crazies on the deck of life” to me. I always let the students guide the conversation so that I was getting their real views and not my projections. They didn’t bring it up at first, but then I would hear, “I have met this guy or girl.” Their relationship with that person then dominated what they wanted to discuss. I couldn’t have changed the subject if I tried. I couldn’t make a new route to get at the heart of where they were at the time. I also discovered that those who call adolescent love “puppy love” have not been around enough kids to know that their feelings of love for another are the same as the one’s that I and others have as adults.

I also had a student who was a great athlete but not a great student. He fell in love with one of the smartest hard-working girls in our school. They broke up during August before their senior year. He entered my office one August day in a rage. He was angry. He got to the source of his anger, and it wasn’t the break up. When he was dating his girlfriend, he had to do as she did which meant that they spent a lot of time together studying. This guy became a rather fine student in the process. His complaint was, “I can’t go back to my former ways. I like academic success.” When he asked, “What should I do?” I said, “Love does that. It does things that we aren’t use to, some good and some bad”. Let’s go with the good here.” He did. Today he is a very successful hard-working businessman, married to someone else, with a great family. He has been to see me with pictures of his wife and kids.

When counseling others, the counselor needs to have a great deal of empathy for the situation. Fortunately, I could identify with what the students were going through in their “crazy” world. I met my wife, Vicki, at the worst possible time. It was in June. I was in Philadelphia. She lived in Raleigh. I was leaving for school in New Haven in late August. I didn’t think it was a big deal to leave work on a Friday afternoon, drive to Raleigh, spend the weekend with her, and drive back to Philly on Sunday night. It is a seven hour drive each way. My friends thought I had lost my mind. They were right.

What has this got to do with the followers of Trump who have not only refused to wear masks because it has infringed on their personal freedom when we “know” it is about protecting others from the virus. As bad as that is, public health officials, particularly in rural areas, have been threatened by others on a regular basis and have resigned from their positions. The public health officials are where the “rubber hits the road” to reduce the cases of the virus. They are as essential as anyone to stop the Pandemic.

The “crazies” in our nation have many motives for their actions, but I want to underscore one thing that is causing this behavior. It is love manifest as passion. C. S. Lewis, a Christian apologist and author has helped me to understand my students’ behavior, my behavior, and a good bit of the behavior of the anti-maskers and those supporting Trump in his attempt to overthrow the election. Lewis’ ideas about the dynamics of love are found, among other places, in his book, The Four Loves. I taught his thinking integrated with my own about psychology and philosophy in my Ethics class.

I have been over the four loves in other posts. In the Greek, they are Storge, a parent’s love, Philia, a love of friends, Eros, the chemistry of love and passion, and Agape, God’s love. Today I want to focus on Eros which is most often associated with sexuality hence the use of the word, erotic. It has another emphasis as well and that is passion. Keep in mind the following aspect of Eros that when passion enters our lives, reason leaves.

We see this vividly when we consider why a business person leaves his or her spouse and family that makes no sense to others. Passion has brought down the powerful. When those with power are named, we often raise the questions, “What were they thinking?”, Why do that when you lose so much?”. The general feeling is always it is not reasonable. These incidents occur because the feelings of passion can sideline any notions of reason. Think of another passion that you have. It may be painting, playing a musical instrument, or a sport. Passion is at the heart of many creative geniuses such as Beethoven, Picasso, or even Elon Musk who lose themselves in their work and creative processes. A passion is what drives them.

Passion is a sense of purpose on steroids. We all need something to get us up in the morning, but passion takes purpose to a new level as it may preoccupy the waking life of an individual.

I am not saying that it is right for a person to run off with another, but I think that we need to understand what is happening there. Look at the crazy stuff that we have been experiencing with masks, election fraud, or in its extreme a cult. People who have crazy behavior are experiencing “purpose plus”. I have read some articles on the relationship between Giuliani and Trump. The relationship doesn’t make sense. Trump is in unreality and Giuliani has fallen far from his perch as one of the most respected people in our nation. His actions have fed “Saturday Night Live” with ample material, wacky witnesses, lack of evidence, and hair dye dripping down his face. When Trump fires people at will, people ask why Rudy is still the devoted friend. Then you hear those words, “It doesn’t make sense.” The answer, I believe, is that they feed the passion purpose driven parts of each other. Giuliani recently said that he got great care when diagnosed with Covid-19 because he was a “celebrity”. That is the word that he used. Remember the name of Trump’s reality show. It was Celebrity Apprentice. A deal for celebrity status and power is what drives them. It is their common bond. Any time you find yourself saying, “It’s not reasonable”, look around and see if Eros, passion, is nearby ready to highjack reason. You may be surprised by how often it is present.

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