The Davis phenomenon

I bring up again the topic of Kim Davis, not to give her specifically more limelight, but to illuminate a phenomenon I see occur in her that I also see happen in other people.  Watching this interview that Megyn Kelly did with Kim Davis made me think of this.

First I'd like to highlight the points of the interview that stuck out to me.  Aside from the fact that Megyn seems to be exhibiting an inhuman amount of patience with Kim, there are a few things that in particular caught my attention.  Also, having watched the interview, I do believe that Kim Davis truly believes what she says.  I don't think she's lying or trying to play a political game or anything of the sort.  I believe that she is genuine in her belief and in how she asserts herself.

Megyn asks about people who ask "Why are you judging me?  Who are you to judge when you've been married multiple times, you too are a sinner?"  So Kim first asserts that she's not judging anyone.  She truly believes that her decision to refuse gay couples licenses is not judgmental in any way.  Then she turns it around and says "If they're calling me a sinner then they're judging me."  This indicates to me that she is incapable of empathy.  She is incapable of understanding what it's like to be in another person's shoes.  She cannot see things from someone else's perspective.  She sees the world the way she sees it and her mind simply isn't capable of grasping that not everyone sees it the same way.

Next, Megyn points out that the couple in question feels like they are being treated as second-class citizens, since they are being denied the equal rights and protection under the law that is due to them.  Kim cannot understand this concept.  She responds with a story about the creation of the Earth from Genesis.  She does not understand that the two are unrelated.  In her mind, the fact that God created the Earth is in fact the very reason that she cannot issue the licenses to the gay couples because she believes that He has commanded that men should not love each other in that way.  She cannot see that her belief causes injustice in the way asserted by the gay couple seeking their license.

Finally, Kim shows her cognitive ineptitude with her response to Megyn's question about people of other faiths seeking religious exemptions (giving the examples of a Catholic person refusing to marry someone who has been divorced but not in the Catholic church and a Muslim refusing to allow a fellow Muslim marry a Christian).  Kim simply responds that it's not a valid argument.  Again, she falls back on "God said so".  She asserts that marriage is to be between a man and a woman and that there can be no other way.  So her exemption is valid, since it is backed by divine decree, whereas other exemptions would be invalid because God does not mandate them.

To me, the problem here is solipsism and absolute thinking.  In her mind, her way is the only way, and that's because it's God's way.  She believes that there is one universal truth and that she knows it and she is trying to defend it.  She does not allow for wiggle room in any way.  She does not allow room for people to have differing opinions.  She does not allow room for other people to choose a different path than hers.  She does not know how to see things from someone else's perspective.

She is not alone in this phenomenon.  She is joined by millions (and maybe billions) of other people.  We are self-centered by nature.  It is a survival skill to be concerned for one's own well-being.  We are also empathetic by nature, since group cooperation improves the chances of survival for each individual in the group (as well as the group as a whole).

This is why I believe it is important to make a conscious effort to view things from differing perspectives.  What is it like to be a woman?  A republican?  Autistic?  Tall?  Fat?  Hebrew?  What if the other person is right and I'm wrong?

Holding one's own beliefs so dear that they become universal absolutes causes one to become insular and radical, as Kim Davis is.  Listening to other people, understanding them, and empathizing with them, is what helps achieve a higher level of harmony and cooperation.  We need not all hold the same opinions and beliefs in order to get along with one another and live together peacefully.

I do not believe that Kim is evil.  I do not believe she is trying to be difficult or cruel.  I believe she is simply a victim of insular thinking.  She is isolated in her beliefs to the point that she cannot even comprehend differing beliefs being valid.  I don't think that Kim is the problem.  I think that dogma is the problem.  And critical thinking is the solution.