“There are some people who live in a dream world , and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” – Douglas H. Everett
I recently received an e-mail from Wayne Holt of Houston, TX . It stated, in part:
“I am stunned by the indifference to practical living skills that so many in our society exhibit. How can so many be so wrong for so long, and still the charade continues? It’s as if we deliberately dove off a building laughing and were miraculously saved by an awning. At times, I’m tempted to believe we can’t fatally harm ourselves even if we try with all our might.”
Mr. Holt gives us a lot to think about. I believe the reason so many can be so wrong for so long – without seeing through the charades (plural, not singular) that are served up to them day in and day out – is because conventional wisdom, myths, and fairytales tend to gain strength with age. After all, if something has been around for a long time, it must be true. Right?
Not so fast. What really happens is that when a preposterous tale – or even an outright lie – is repeated often enough, it acquires “legs.” Meaning it becomes self-sustaining. And if it attracts enough adherents, it spreads exponentially. This is how dogma evolves into “fact.” Through repetition, a lie can be transformed into truth, and often is.
The dictionary defines charade as “a blatant pretense or deception.” Which means that most of what we see and hear are charades.
In the 1963 classic film Charade, Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) asks Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) why people lie. Joshua answers, “Usually it’s because they want something. They are afraid the truth won’t get it for them.”
As the Republican and Democratic caucuses so clearly demonstrate, politicians are a great example of relentless purveyors of charades… constantly calling for increases in the “minimum wage” (even though it affects only two percent of the population)… incessantly babbling about Social Security “reform” (even though Social Security is a pyramid scam that is mathematically impossible to “fix”)… acting as though they are serious about putting an end to illegal immigration (even though every rational adult recognizes that it is years too late to do anything about it).
What do politicians hope to gain from such charades? The same things they are always after: First, our votes. Second, as a result of our votes, power. Third, adulation. And fourth, the congressional perks that allow them to live like multimillionaires.
How, Mr. Holt wonders, is it possible for the charades to continue? Because just as people get the governments they deserve, they also get the charades they deserve – and want . People love to be deluded. It feels so warm and fuzzy compared to the harshness of reality.
But what about Mr. Holt’s speculation that we are somehow immune to the consequences of the self-destructive tendencies so many of us exhibit? Would that it were so, but the evidence suggests that we irreversibly damage ourselves all the time. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Greek and Roman Empires are not around anymore. Neither is the Soviet Union . All of them fell under the weight of their own charades.
It is therefore not surprising that the sun is rapidly setting on Western civilization. We continue to accept the charade that freedom and equality can coexist… The charade that everything in life is relative and that there is no such thing as right and wrong… The charade that the most heinous criminals – even those from other countries who are here illegally – have the same rights as law-abiding citizens.
All noble thoughts, I guess. But, unfortunately, not good for maintaining a civilization. For better or for worse, civilization cannot exist without a generally accepted code of conduct. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.
Make no mistake about it, the resilience of the human race is remarkable. We have survived the Dark Ages, tyrants, slavery, and worse. But I do not agree that there is always an awning to catch us. For example, the six million Jews who bought into the charade that Germany was a safe and cultured nation – and that Adolf Hitler was a harmless nutcase – fell through the awning and landed in the gas chambers.
In closing, I am reminded of the tiniest of all mammals, the shrew, which weighs less than a dime. The shrew is a voracious eater who will not hesitate to devour other shrews. And when it’s hungry enough, and there’s no other prey around, it is capable of eating itself to death – literally – beginning with its own tail.
I believe that if a person tries hard enough, like the shrew, he can fatally harm himself. Man, of course, does not engage in self-cannibalism. Instead, he relies on the charade. Kind of analogous to a person who commits suicide by forcing the police to kill him.
I say forget about relying on the awning to save you. Focus, instead, on trying not to fall. And a good way to do that is to monitor your personal reality so you avoid buying into too many charades. If you are too wrong too often, for too long – if you continue to buy into the charades promulgated by government, Madison Avenue, and the media – sooner or later, the awning won’t be there to catch you.[Ed. Note: Take a gigantic step toward achieving all your personal and professional goals – faster than you ever imagined – with Robert Ringer’s best-selling personal-development program.]