“I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Waking up to a life of purpose, passion and love requires the ability to separate the truth from the lies and to discern the underlying essence of deep meaning from a false narrative merely perpetuated by ego. The moment we begin to cling too strongly to a story, particularly a story shaped (marred?) by our personal attachment, is the moment we risk veering down the rathole.
Steve Jobs was famous for what was both affectionately and derisively known as his “reality distortion field.” The RDF was a term first coined by one of Jobs’ colleagues to describe the Apple leader’s uncanny ability to, as Wikipedia describes it, “convince himself and others to believe almost anything through a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence.” Whether highly calculated or borne out of subconscious habit, the effect was to manipulate his teams to accomplish things they did not think possible. Of course the RDF can be a force for good or evil.
Today we see another leader trying to push an agenda of “alternative facts” and to create his own RDF. People of integrity and substance are rightly seeing through the veil of deceit and calling bullshit.
Of course, more common, but just as pernicious, are the lies, distortions and manipulations we foist upon ourselves and those with whom we are in relationship.
We may try to impose an alternative reality upon a loved one out of fear or simply to advance our own selfish agenda; unaware of how that ultimately serves neither of us.
We may fail to confront the authenticity of our own pain, thinking we can go around it, rather than through it. Spoiler alert: we can’t.
We may tell ourselves we are unworthy of love, when nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s important to recognize the distinction among facts, perceptions, beliefs and interpretations. They are all valid and they each serve their own unique purpose. And context matters.
Yet neither our own personal growth nor the good that needs to be done in the world is served through a failure to confront reality, the perpetuation of delusion or the encouragement of false narratives. Depending upon the circumstances, ignoring this can create minor annoyance or have outcomes of great consequence. As Voltaire once opined: “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we can do this to ourselves as well.
The best time to stop the nonsense was before it even started.
The second best time is right here, right now.