This is a blog that primarily involves itself in the issue of authenticity versus: delusion, the simulacrum, the false, the untrue. But I would like to consider today, the virtue of self-delusion, at least for a time. In times of strife and difficulty, self-delusion can provide a respite that can re-energize a flagging hope or facilitate survival itself. Optimism in the face of defeat can be energizing, and that renewal can sometimes turn things around. “Never say die!”, hope in the face of death, has saved many an explorer, pioneer, prisoner, patient. When all things seem hopeless, a self-inflating illusion can allow one to carry on for one more day, one more hour, one more minute that may make a difference. I think America, as a country, has some of this in their DNA. The Yankee “can do” attitude has often carried us far in the face of daunting odds. It is the confrontation of frontiers that proved our worth. We do not discourage easily.
Our current situation makes me think of this. Let us take inventory:
* we continue to suffer from the 2007-8-9 Great Recession.
* retail stores continue to suffer from lack of spending by the middle class.
* the middle class has shrunk in size, and recedes in purchasing power.
* interest rates have been near zero for 6 years without making life better for the masses.
* the stock market is at all time highs, but the masses have benefitted little by this fact.
* China is facing a real estate bubble and its GNP is shrinking.
* Europe went through its own Great Recession and still lingers in it. There is 15 to 25 percent unemployment in many countries.
* The Middle East in in chaos and anarchy.
* Japan, after a modest recovery, is sinking back into deflation and slow growth.
* Russia and Putin are making “throw-back” noises reflective of the Cold War. Putin invades Ukraine without international push back.
* The great Brazilian economic rise falters and most of South America is a political and economic mess.
* Africa is a mess in too many ways to list.
* Emerging Markets (i.e., the rest of the world) has fallen on bad times as an investment sector.
* We live with an inept President who seems over his head in most aspects of his job.
* Congress hasn’t done much in 6 years.
* Healthcare in this country, in spite of or because of Obamacare, is a mess.
* Unemployment, though down from its highs, is still a problem for most citizens.
* drought, fires and two severe winters in a row have become the norm.
* Our national infrastructure is falling apart from neglect.
* Our borders are porous. Millions of illegals already here. 100,000 desperate children cross over. Terrorists can do the same.
* The burden of financial entitlements threaten to bankrupt the country, yet we keep giving away more.
* There is no creative effort in Washington to solve these fiscal problems.
* Cyber-attacks threaten our infrastructure and finances.
* Diseases, viruses of unknown or half known origins and types threaten our very existence.
Shall I go on??? I’m sure I have missed a few.
Yet the world goes on. But here I focus on America. Although the polls indicate a despair of our situation. 70 to 80% of respondents feel our country is headed in the wrong direction. (When asked.) But day-to-day, I see this country continuing its life in positive ways. We still aspire. We still care about education. We still go to ballgames. We buy and prepare good food with increasing care and intention. We are still charitable to others. We have not taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands. We believe the next election may help things. Some citizens cope by not watching or reading the news. Many have given up on Washington and politicians. Television, games, smartphones, pot and fun have blocked out the long list above. Are we hopeless? I don’t think so. I don’t see it. Is that an illusion? Maybe. So we come full circle to the positive powers of illusion. Is that what is occurring? Are we in denial? Or are we just waiting out the bad times? Filling in with “artificial” good times?
A population, a country might well be able to sustain under an illusion longer than an individual can. But not forever. Take note of Egypt, Greece, Rome, ancient China, England, Spain, Portugal, France. We must get our house in order one day, or debt and neglect will destroy us. We will join the aforementioned. The positive illusion is for carry purposes only. To survive another day. But the period of survival must be well spent, or the death that threatened will prevail.
Both individuals and countries must at the crisis point, at the inflection, at the tipping point become unforgivingly honest. As I say more at length in (
“see my book“), finding such authenticity is not easy, but it can and must be done if one is to improve and prosper. One can indulge the illusion only for a time. It can be a time of restoration, but that can only be short-lived. It is illusory.
Politicians will be the first to re-enforce your illusions. They are very often the creators of your illusions. They write scripts for you that serve their purposes. They create false issues that distract you from the real issues. They tell you tales that things are getting better. Ask the hard questions. Look for the facts. Stop the theater. What is one simple but available tool for ending illusion and seeking truth? What is one simple demand for authenticity? What is the way you can stop them from writing simplistic scripts that assumes your ignorance and degrades your intelligence. The vote.
In about six weeks we all have the chance to vote for change. Whether Democrat, Republican or Independent….go out there and vote for change. Stop those who feed you illusions. Stop those who would have you believe that the person and life you lead is authentic when it is not because they have written it. Take to the streets on November 4th. Mail in your ballots. Go to the polls. Tell them we are sick and tired and we’re not going to take it anymore! Don’t accept clones of the past. Short of revolution, the vote is all we have. Use it. Illusions are temporary. Reality ultimately bites. Even those who enjoy entitlements, if they are not put on a firm financial footing, they, too, will be gone. Before we have to take to the streets by the millions as we have seen in other countries, take to the streets and mails and vote. Every two years, review those whom we have voted in to represent us. If they haven’t delivered, bring in the next person. Do it till they get the message. Every incumbent should shake in their shoes each election. NOBODY should get re-elected lightly. Nobody. Demand accountability. Demand truth. Demand the authentic. See through and beyond the scripts they write for us. Are we in their play or are they in ours?