Many times I’ve noted a large gap exists between what our brain tells us about the world and truth. My novel Trompe l’Oeil is a study of that gap – the difference between appearance and reality. Even so, we infinitely small creatures of a small planet among billions of galaxies continue conduct ourselves with a certainty that must seem absurd to divine eyes.
The little we know about the external world is overshadowed by the ignorance of our inner one. Former athlete Bruce Jenner wakes up one morning to decide he is no longer a man. Rachel Dolezal, former head of the NAACP, refuses to accept she is a white. Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman doubts he is a success as an actor. (The Week, August 7, 2015, pg. 10) Even more surprising is Philip Ziimbardo’s discovery about himself after his infamous Stanford Experiment (Blog 8/21/15). In this prison simulation where he used volunteer students, he grew so fascinated by the brutality he witnessed that he was reluctant to stop it. “I totally lost my sense of compassion. I totally lost that… Anyone, can be seduced by evil under the right circumstances. .. when you’re put in an unfamiliar situation where you don’t have any guidelines or rules that contain who are, you could do anything.” (Ibid, pg. 10.)
Given the fluidity of our brains and a universe which is in constant flux, those who suffer from the delusion of certainty are to be pitied. Witness the current theater performance surrounding our upcoming U.S. presidential election. Some candidates for our highest office strut and gabble as if nothing has changed since the country was an agrarian economy. Such candidates should be laughed off the stage, or cosseted in straightjackets and fed warm milk, for surely they have the brains of infants.
Unfortunately, we can find more of their ilk among the white supremacists, among Mullahs in the Middle East and leaders like Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who urges our nation to reject peace with Iran. Iran can’t be trusted, he rails to our Congress. But can we accept this assurance from the man who goaded us into war with Iraq, being certain they were building weapons of mass destruction?
Truth is a tricky concept and those who are adamant they see it are blind. The nearest truth I can attest to is that humanity is at its best when it serves the cause of peace.
(Originally published 8/31/15)