When we look ourselves in the mirror each day, we tell ourselves a number of lies. These lies vary from tiny to large in scale, depending on what our mind needs to move past them and keep going. After all we have work to do. We have a job to go to, a boss to answer to, or a significant other to impress. These lies eat away at our subconscious. They press their fingers into our brain and corrupt our sleep patterns with worry over the truth. Can you count the number of lies you told yourself this morning already?
That pain in your shoulder – it’s just you sleeping wrong, right? The boss gives you an extra slice of workload – they trust you and no one else to get it done, you’re sure of it. We humans are a lying lot. We lie to protect people, to get our way in any number of situations, but most often we lie to ourselves to make the person in the mirror feel better. We preserve the status quo because that’s better than making difficult changes.
You’re a liar and so am I.
For years I made it a practice to craft the truth in such a fashion to keep a failing relationship going. I lied to myself, to my partner, and my children. I was so dead set against following my biological father’s path of domestic destruction that I was willing to lay down a thick layer of false veneer to keep the broken ship afloat. Practice made perfect. I told myself things would change, they’d improve, and then I’d have the relationship I dreamed of. Lies have a destructive force all their own, with a whirlwind of consequences that mount each time another one is told. I paid – and continue to pay – for those choices.
With the era of constant media we have to lie to ourselves on a vastly higher scale. There are people who cannot abide watching the news, it’s too much for them. The nightly news brings twenty-five minutes of the apocalypse and two minutes of an uplifting story at the end. Social media can turn into a terrifying stream of horrible things, many of which are lies people dupe themselves into believing. For longer than history can record, people have been paid to lie to others out of a belief that it will make things better. In the long run the truth comes out – or some portion – and people lose trust in their government, news media, neighbors, until there’s no one left to truth but themselves. Except since a person is already good at lying to themselves they’re putting trust in the wrong person.
What we desperately need in this world is truth. Zero veneer or candy coating, just truth. We need to open our eyes to what’s going on in the world around us and tell the unmitigated truth about every situation. This starts right in your own neighborhood until it reaches a national level. If a company is screwing over its workers to push their tax burden overseas – we need to make them famous. If a religious group is so corrupt it would hide sex offenders in their ranks – we need to put those people on the front page. If a politician works to be inclusive, but fills their pockets with special interest money – we have to vote them out. Lies have tainted our reality to the point where there are no lines between black and white anymore. Everything appears grey, because grey areas are the best place to put our lies.
Addendum: Nine days ago a story hit the news you may have heard. Ghost Ship, an artist collective in Oakland California, caught fire and burned. In the post election/post truth era you may have only heard a whisper about it. The fire killed 36 people, and goes on record as the deadliest fire in Oakland’s history. I’m not from Oakland, have never been there, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling for the shockwave this caused. I work in the fire protection industry for my day job, so hearing about a warehouse that size with no sprinkler system, no smoke or heat detectors scares me.
In the industry we talk about what “can happen” if there’s a fire and we take it very seriously. This is why. When there isn’t proper fire coverage and annunciators people die. To hear that that the only exit route from the second floor was a makeshift stairway made of stacked wooden pallets is horrifying. One group who used the space was Introflirt – a synthpop / electronic band. Their latest album “Temporary Heaven” was just released this past August. When we lose artists who bleed for what they love we lose a piece of what makes humanity as a whole good. We’ve lost so many of these artists this year it’s easy to forget the ones who aren’t household names. In the new year we need to collectively remember that we don’t get new household names without supporting independent artists. The music and writing business isn’t the same way it used to be. Find the artists you love and promote the hell out of them. Let their vision be seen and heard before it’s too late.