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.