“All deception in the course of life is indeed nothing else but a lie reduced to practice, and falsehood passing from words into things.” — Robert Southey
Lies are what we tell ourselves and others when the truth is unknown or inconvenient. Then there are times in life when introspection vexes us until we recognize and dismantle untruths that no longer serve us, as well as we once believed. Here’s what I believe to be truth:
1. “[insert] people are …” The only thing that all people are, constantly, is human. But when we’re high on our flying elephant (about race, religion, political doctrine, etc.), we fail to apply common ethos that we nurtured in kindergarten—people are individuals. And what a subgroup tends to engage in/subscribe to is NEVER EVER representative of the whole. Often, people committed to this lie need justification for their perverse disdain toward them to believe that they’ve dodged the bigot stamp, or they embody it openly.
2. “I don’t judge.” This feel-good lie, ironically gives us a sense of superiority over those prejudiced folk. But snap judgment, for example, is like breathing. Because, at times, it’s for our perceived self preservation. We lock our doors because we judge. We vote for presidents because we judge. We select our friends because we judge. It is our ken of the world around us that causes us to denote the value of people and things. From gender roles, to sexual appetites, to parenting styles, to fashion choices … the nucleus of the human condition is judgment.
3. “I don’t see color.” Even colorblind folks see color. Unless you’re blind or a reincarnated nocturnal bird, color is likely the first thing that you consciously or subconsciously notice about a person. If you’re the highly evolved sort and do not prioritize color in people relations, I’m quite certain that seeing color would serve you well, if you stumble upon idle skinheads in backwoods Mississippi (if you’re Black) or if you get lost in a gang-infested Black Chicago neighborhood (if you’re White). Extremes, yes. But navigating color, fairly or injudiciously, is a real part of everyday life.
4. “I’m afraid to fly.” Barring aviophobia, you’re not afraid to fly—you’re afraid to die. I think that this is tacitly understood. Thanatophobia may be the culprit in one’s flight hesitance. *My armchair philosophy is that no man’s humanity is superior to another’s, by mere virtue that death, and the fear of death, are the ultimate equalizers of mankind.* Of course, exceptions to fear of death exist (and their reasons), such as “righteous” self immolations or the deeply unfortunate suicides of cyber-bullied teens. But, for most of us, the idea of death abides in us like dark silence. And we try to prevent its premature arrival and go on with life knowing it will come some day, but ever hoping it will be gentle and forbearing while we enjoy a long spell of bliss or nothingness.
5. “I’m not a racist.” It’s often a racist person, in denial or rebellion, who feels the need to assert this. Or perhaps you’re not a racist, but sure as the thoughts that you think, you are race-conditioned, which may give you an appearance of intolerance. Oversimplified, race conditioning affects how we (all of us) perceive certain folks in a racial group, as well as how we’re perceived, even in the absence of racial animus. The awareness and degree of this conditioning varies immensely from person to person. And in this uber PC generation that we live in, the evolving layered definition of racism, privilege, intersectionality, microaggressions, etc., is an ever-growing beast that cannot be contained.
6. “If a man treats his mother well, he’s a keeper.” This is martini talk for single women. And it’s a half truth at best. Because most men love their mama and treat her well, even the turd that kisses your sweet lips hello with the stink of some other “lips” he licked 10 minutes ago. But if your thinking cap is adjusted well, you’ll realize that a more exacting appraisal (not a perfect science) of a man’s character is measured by the kinds of people he invests his time in, how he treats “common” folks, and the pattern of women characters he has dated in recent years. A man with whoremonger close friends, who craps on waitresses/waiters or grocery baggers, and who has a “past” preference for women in traditional gender roles, may not be the guy for you, if you value loyalty, respect for all people, and shared compromise.
7. “Love hurts.” If you believe this lie, it’s presumable that you’ve had an unhealthy ideal of love to begin with. Love doesn’t throw punches, or betray, or rape, or diminish, or deprive. People do. While love seems complicated because it’s infinitely relative, I believe that authentic love is edifying because it builds from scratch and rebuilds what’s broken and continues erecting. We are perfectly flawed, nevertheless, so we can love AND hurt each other at times. *It’s prudent to accurately read our scale that weighs the love we give/receive against the type of hurt that we inflict/tolerate. We can repine (feels good I know), mentally register our findings, and wisely act on them. Just don’t blame love.
8. “Money changes people.” I believe the opposite is true. In essence, people pervert money. We give relevance to money. Our most authentic self is exposed when we have lots of it. But real change is deliberate. What we produce in life is a stark reflection of who we really are, whether our actions are “regular” or have become “active” from dormancy. When people inherit money, the kind that can gain meaningful access or finance calculated choices, they tend to aggrandize themselves (positively or negatively). And it’s their regular actions that magnify and the dormant parts of themselves that emerge. If you have always equated self-worth with material possessions, you may order your new money to compete with the Joneses. If you secretly crave vainglory, you may command your new money to buy favor with the elite, while you take heaping dumps on peasants (99%). If the idea of hungry children has left cracks in your heart, you may direct your new money to fill bellies around the globe.