OUR DENIAL AND DELUSIONS MAY KILL US

We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period. We’re not going to give time to the climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not. Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, December 31, 2018

“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers,” President Donald Trump’s reaction to the 1,600 page National Climate Assessment (issued by his administration).

The President isn’t thinking straight. First, I do not experience him as a person who has a very high level of intelligence. He more than overestimates his own skills and abilities as people with fewer talents often do, and he underestimates the talents of others. More competent people underestimate their skills and overestimate the skills of others (Dunning-Kruger effect).

Second, climate change is established science.

Denying climate change is like denying gravity or that cigarettes cause cancer. Or, could Trump and others really believe that climate change is real but deny it publically and fails to take action for other sinister motives? His failure to take strong action to save our planet is a presidential failure of the highest magnitude. He is not crazy; he is bad. The political system must stop him.

The experts and pseudo-experts can argue about when the worst of climate change will happen, how bad will the most horrible impacts be, and can civilization recover but the time for arguing about whether climate change is real or “fake news,” is over.

A delusion is: “…a fixed, false belief that is firmly believed and resists correction by overwhelming evidence and rational argument.” The delusions of Trump followers, inflamed by him, brought Trump the presidency. Those same delusions may kill us.

From Allan Frances, MD in Twilight of American Sanity:

Common delusions in people: Delusions of persecution that lead to blaming others for one’s failures; Delusions of grandiosity (I am highly intelligent); erotomanic delusions: the conviction that a person is loved by all when, in reality, they are ignored or hated.

Society has delusions too:

We don’t have to worry about global warming or environmental pollution because God or technology will save us;

World population can keep growing without causing drastic resource depletion, irreversible global warming, incessant wars, mass migrations; frequent pandemics, and recurring famines;

We don’t have to worry about running out of things because there is always a high-tech fix to get whatever more stuff we will eventually need;

If the rich get richer, the benefits will trickle down to everyone else and the world will be a better place;

The United States has the best health-care system in the world;

The United States can bully other countries into doing whatever we want;

Our country can only be great again if we build walls around it;

Since mankind has been given domination over the earth, our needs are paramount, the survival of other species need not concern us;

It is worth giving away almost all of our privacy in order to gain security, convenience, and valuable research data;

The more guns the better. Guns don’t kill people, people do. An armed population is a safe populace;

The technological revolution can do no wrong.

(Dr. Frances wrote about each delusion and provided evidence of how each is not true)

“Ignorance is not Bliss.” Millions of Americans have a delusional belief system (Thanks in large part to Fox News and conservative talk radio) that does not portray America or the world as it is. Charles Darwin wrote: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Trump and his followers want to transform America but try to take us backward and deeper into the world of delusions. That is destruction, not transformation. Believing in the these and other delusions are not sustainable and delusional thinking won’t solve the legitimate issues of Trump followers.

We must undo the societal delusions that made Trump our President.  The first step to healthy change is to see ourselves and our country and our world as it is. Allan Frances: “Rational mind must reassert itself over irrational impulse and wish-fulfilling fantasy.”

We need a spiritual awakening–a moment of metanoia–a shift of mind. Scientist Rupert Sheldrake said, “It is like waking up from a dream. It brings with it a spirit of repentance, seeing in a new way, a change of heart. This conversion is intensified by the sense that the end of an age is at hand.”

And we need to wake up fast. We are already late in attacking climate change and we will suffer from the damage already done. It seems like no one cares until they lose their homes or businesses or lives of loved ones. We need to be visionary and proactive.

We live in daunting times. People who see things clearly feel anger, sorrow, fear, and anxiety. Delusions lead us down the wrong paths. We live under real stress, the maturity of many regresses to earlier times. We fear the genuine transformative change that is required. But, just try to imagine how you will feel when the worst of climate change knocks on your door.

God will not rescue us. Nor will a hero or heroine save us—certainly not our President. We are responsible for our collective fate. The great threats of climate change, population growth, species extinction, resource depletion, and global poverty have called for change for a long time.

Are we ready to make real change? If we are ready, we will get behind a new vision for the renewal first of the United States and then of the world and we will do what is necessary to have a sustainable planet. We don’t need to make America great again; we need to make America good.

Whatever we do, something spectacular is going to happen soon. We will experience an evolutionary bounce or an evolutionary crash.

Our smallest moves may trigger small or vast changes in the world we make and remake together. Trilobites have come and gone; Tyrannosaurus has come and gone. Each tried; each strode uphill; each did its evolutionary best.

Consider that 99.9 percent of all species have come and gone. Be careful. Your own best footstep may unleash the very cascade that carries you away, and neither you nor anyone else can predict which grain will unleash the tiny or the cataclysmic alteration.

Be careful, but keep on walking; you have no choice. Be as wise as you can, yet have the wisdom to admit your global ignorance. We all do the best we can, only to bring forth the conditions of our ultimate extinction, making way for new forms of life and ways to be. If we must eventually fail, what an adventure to be players at all. Stuart Kauffman

Lies, Delusions & Ignorance

If everyone lives roughly the same lies about the same things, there is no one to call them liars. They jointly establish their own sanity and call themselves normal. Ernest Becker

America has many intractable problems. Americans, along with people of other nations who share many of the same issues, created our difficulties, and we must fix them. Einstein wrote that we cannot solve our problems with the same level of consciousness that created the problems. We need a higher, more evolved level of awareness.

The majority of us say we want change in the country. But things get worse. Of course, other people need to change—not us. We do not take personal responsibility for change. We remain gridlocked.

Change begins with each of us. Only we can create the life we want on the planet earth from the personal to the atmospheric. We can begin by becoming aware of the lies, delusions and ignorant thoughts we tell ourselves that, while part of our human condition have, I believe, grown to dangerous levels of deception that at least threaten our way of life.

Many of us have sincere delusions. I created an alternative reality for myself to justify my addiction to alcohol. What a profound and identity-changing moment it was when reality broke through my defenses. Now 42 years later, I continue to work hard daily to be honest with myself. All of us have the Plato’s Caves of our lives. More of us need to shift our perception from the shadows of the cave to the sunlight of reality.

(Click the above link and see the inside of Learning to Live: Essays on Life and Leadership to read the entire essay on Plato’s Cave at no cost.)

Many times we come to believe deceits we crafted consciously to justify actions contrary to our values and untruths told to ourselves to excuse looking away when injustice happens in front of us. Other times we convince ourselves that magical thinking and quick-fixes will rescue us from our problems. We may scapegoat and demonize others to excuse our own bad behavior. We might blame others for our actions. We can choose to be truth-tellers (at least to ourselves) about our unflattering words and actions.

Little lies can have big consequences: I can control life. If others changed, everything would be okay. I can stop (name your addiction) any time I want. Life sucks; life’s perfect. No one else feels like I do. I’m too old to learn new things. I know what I am doing. We can notice the assumptions we live by and illuminate them and see if they remain valid (or ever were).

Many lie about our external world. Sometimes the lies come from propaganda or ignorance, and we believe them blindly. Some we propagate knowingly: My opinion supersedes science. Evolution is a fabrication. Climate change is not real. We can consume the planet’s resources without repercussions. We can continue to populate the planet without consequences. We can kill off species without harm to ourselves. We will never run out of water. We can stop spreading lies even when the truth goes counter to what we wish the truth would be (that’s called integrity). We can choose to challenge our own ignorance. We can be our own best teachers.

We lie about politics: Since the presidential campaign began on March 23, 2015, Politifact has been fact-checking the claims of the presidential candidates. To make a long, information-filled article short: 60.13% of the fact-checked claims of Donald Trump were rated False or Pants on Fire (13.33% for Hillary Clinton).

If we want to evolve as people, we see reality accurately: we peel away the untruths—whatever their origin–that often control our lives and adapt accordingly. We escape the Plato’s Caves of our inner worlds and become more aware and mature people who make better decisions about how we live.

We have much difficult inner and external work to do if we want to create a good America and a sustainable planet for future generations. We begin when we awaken.