Truth, Lies and Real Life

Truth, Lies and Real Life

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet (1803-1882)

Apart from a few notable twists of truth in my childhood, to avoid punishment (deserved) for my misdeeds (my lies never succeeded in fooling my parents), I have always been a great supporter of telling the truth.

That has had me facing trouble when it was revealed (some said I should have kept quiet). However, trouble inevitably follows lies as a bad smell follows a skunk. Telling the truth allowed me to work my way through unpleasant consequences, where necessary, to find clear sailing beyond. The consequences were of shorter duration, requiring less subterfuge, when I was able to face them and work through them.

That sometimes had its own downside. People I worked with, or for, found themselves having to cope with someone who told everything “as it is.” I avoided exaggeration and meanness, but my truth made them uncomfortable. The reason is that my truth often brought to light their own misdeeds or avoidance of fulfilling their own responsibilities.

Sometimes that meant that workmates avoided me for some period of time. Sometimes it caused me to have to look for a new job. They covered their failures and inadequacies and expected me to do the same with my own. To them, pretending was preferable to bringing the cold hard truth to light and having to face others who were upset by it.

It avoided forcing them to change.

We have this nebulous term “white lies.” One dictionary I consulted described the meaning of this term as “an unimportant lie (especially one told to be tactful or polite).” I question the value of the “unimportant lie.”

A standard joke of comedians tells of the husband who, when asked by his wife if the dress she has just put on is too tight or looks good and will make her look fine at an event they are about to attend, replies (when he fears she might burst a seam) “Of course dear, you look great, as always.” This, we are told, is an acceptable white lie.

Let’s lay this one out bare. The woman knows the dress is too tight or she would not have asked her husband for an opinion. The husband knows the dress is too tight but doesn’t want to make his wife feel bad. Problem solved, for the moment. Then the couple attends the event where every women who sees the wife can see she obviously is wearing a dress that is too tight–or simply that she has gained weight she doesn’t want to admit to.

That situation, we are asked to ignore, to claim that no one at the event will notice the too-tight dress. I submit that every woman at the evident would notice, and many men as well. Moreover, the penalty she will suffer for her social faux pas will be much greater than if she had simply faced the truth (or been told the truth by her husband) and changed to another garment before leaving home.

No one at an event wants to tell a woman that her cosmetics are smeared, as that might embarrass her. So she moves about advertising her messy face to everyone until she later sees herself in a mirror in the ladies’ room. Again, the embarrassment she feels when she realizes that so many others have seen her with messy makeup is far greater than what she would feel if someone had told her sooner.

By the same token, a man might emerge from a public washroom/restroom with his shirt tucked inside his boxers at the back and the waistband of the boxers advertised to the world until the next time he visits the washroom. Is a feeling of great shame in private any less significant than a slight embarrassment when something is revealed in public?

White lies and slight perversions of the truth to help someone avoid embarrassment “to be tactful or polite” always come out. The consequences are always worse later than they would have been at the time.

A white lie is simply a way to delay a worse consequence.

What is the attraction of a lie? Often a lie will produce exactly the results in a person that the person wants to have.

Lies are beautiful, in the short term.

An example that keeps thumping in my brain is the concept of the character of God. Every religion has a God (some, like Buddhism, are technically philosophies of life). Every religion admits that we have no way of knowing anything about God. Yet there are people in every religion who will happily tell you all manner of warm and comforting things they believe about God. Where did these things originate? In lies. Well meaning lies, I admit. Tell them what they want to hear.

Oddly, most religions grant a male gender to their God, yet the characteristics given by those with ready answers about their God almost inevitably fit better someone of female gender, a mother. Why? Those who do not feel personally secure want to feel that their God cares for them the way a mother would.

For some, it works. For a while.

Getting back to our original quotation by Emerson, I question just how beautiful most people find truth. Truth in nature, for sure. As the saying goes, truth is beauty and beauty truth. Even the truth of a natural disaster, when viewed after the fact and from a distance, can be seen as beautiful, in a way.

If we judged the truth of Emerson’s statement about truth and lies based on our own culture, we would have to say that we immerse ourselves in lies. Almost nothing we see on television or on the stage is true, the exception being documentaries (though some of them have political or social agendas with carefully edited “facts”). Virtually everything in every commercial or print advertising is a perversion of the truth (massaging truth to make it look better, making us want what we mostly don’t need).

We live in houses that convey a certain social status we may not have in reality, wear clothes that tell strangers we are something we may not be, drive cars or trucks to make others believe we can actually afford them.

Put simply, lies are more attractive than the truth. There are those among us who want to believe our lies so much that they actually come to believe them. Where is the truth? We expect others, even strangers, to “have faith” that the message we are trying to convey is the truth.

The hidden request is to “trust me.”

No matter how many times we say a lie, it is still a lie. But we can believe the lie. That’s life. But is it really better than the truth?

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want their children to be able to cope, without fear and lies, with the world they will one day enter as adults.
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How True Is What We Believe?

How True Is What We Believe?

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer, Nobel laureate (1856-1950)While I like Shaw’s quotation, I would alter that last part a little. We may believe that our country is superior to all others because we have been told that. What we believe is what we think and what we think we believe is true. If we believe something is true, we accept it as true and valid. Yet our belief is based on what we have been told by others.

Once we think something, we believe it. “If I think something and have no questions about it or doubts, it must be true.” If we believe it’s true, we will believe it as fact.

Once we believe something, our conviction is hard to shake. One example might be cars. Some people will go through their entire lives owning few cars that are not Fords. They believe in Ford cars. “GMs are crap.” Other people devote themselves so much to General Motors cars that they wouldn’t be caught dead owning a Ford. That devotion might be based on their experience. But more than likely it’s based on what their fathers believed about GM and Ford cars. Seldom does either group have any hard evidence that their car of choice is the best, though they will tend to accept the advertising of their preferred choice as more true than the advertising of other manufacturers.

For many years my wife and I owned a couple of coffee shops. We believed our coffee was the best. The owner of the company that supplied our system’s coffee also supplied coffee to coffee shop franchises that competed with ours. He told us once, in confidence, that ours was better than the others, even giving some evidence to support the claim. A few years later he denied both the evidence and the claim that our brand was superior. (He even denied the additive that was proven to make coffee addictive.)

Our customers were so devoted to our coffee that they would not buy coffee in other coffee shops. Customers in competitors’ shops were equally convinced that their favourite brand was best. Over a period of years, several of the original stores closed. The customers all transferred their loyalties to their new favourite shops and coffee brands, without hesitation. Their new brand was best, because they drank it (though they would never admit that as their reason).

Because they believed something, it must be true. People don’t think of their beliefs that way, but when you argue them to a fine point, they hold fast that their beliefs are true even without supporting evidence.

Advertising depends heavily not on persuading people that the advertised product is better not based on evidence, but on persuading them that the product is best because they have heard the advertising so often they have come to believe it. In the advertising industry it is accepted among big advertising agencies that a person who receives the same advertising message ten times or more will believe it. Big industries spend fortunes on advertising to deliver the exact same message to your television screen a few dozen times each evening or day. The most bought products tend to be those that are advertised most heavily. People believe what they have been told. Told often.

I have had people tell me that when they want to buy a product they know nothing about, they ask people who already own that product which brand and quality level they prefer. “I would rather take the word of someone who has experienced a product,” they say. They will take someone’s word about a product, even the word of a stranger who has experience with the product or at least an opinion, rather than do some research themselves to learn tested and proven facts about it. They believe something about the product because they have been told.

People tend to vote for candidates in elections that either belong to parties they have always voted for or that have the strongest presentations in the community. The latter means television advertising or lawn signs. The more signs people see, the more they believe that the candidate must have great support. They vote for the candidate they believe will win because they equate numbers of yard signs with popularity. Most voters know very little or nothing about the political persuasions of the candidates they vote for. When their candidate is elected, then later helps pass laws they believe are bad, they simply justify it by claiming that “politicians are all crooks.”

We each like to believe that we have chosen, as adults, the best religion to belong to. In fact, most belong to the same religion (or lack thereof) as adults as they were introduced to by their parents when they were children. When people change to a different religion than the one they were brought up in, it is usually the one in which they find greatest acceptance by others of that religion. Religion is a social association, so attending service with friendly people is a very persuasive factor.

Many people around the world wonder how terrorist organizations manage to persuade individuals to commit suicide as they kill many others in events such as suicide bombings. Studies of suicide bombers suggest that most of them came, alone, from small rural settings to the city to find work. They don’t find work or friends, but they do find a few people who welcome them into their small religious community. That social acceptance begins the process of brainwashing that eventually shows itself in suicide bombing. The bombers believe that the religious beliefs of the sect must be best because they have been accepted where no one else would welcome them. Eventually they believe what they are told about what will happen to them–how they will be welcomed in heaven–when they kill the enemy.

Suicide bombers do not make the connection that life here on earth, in the present, is good because it hasn’t been for them. Except in one case where they were accepted by a group and promised something greater in the afterlife. [I have often wondered how those lonely country boys would fare in heaven if they were “given” 72 virgins. When you think about it, not only does it not make sense, it is totally unrealistic. In fact, dangerous. Virgins know nothing and can be clumsy or insensitive.]

This tendency to believe what we have been told is worldwide. Politicians, religious leaders and advertisers depend on it. If people are told something often enough, most people will believe it. No matter how wrong it seems and how unsupported it may be. Do you suppose that US troops are still looking for those “Weapons of Mass Destruction” they heard so often that Saddam had in Iraq? The believers never thought that someone else would benefit from a lie that was told so often. Told by those who would benefit. And it worked.

The only way to change a society that depends on the gullibility of its people is to teach the children to ask questions, to doubt, to wonder, to investigate, to think. It would not be hard to effect such change. It would be cheap, almost without cost. But it would require people who care to urge those who create curriculum for schools to change the way kids are taught. Today most kids learn to not think, only to obey and believe.

Our kids need to learn differently. Your kids and mine. The people who one day will decide our living arrangements when we are too old to do for ourselves. If we want them to think of us instead of themselves first, we will have to teach that now. Most kids today learn that they are the most important people they will ever know.

Remaining quiet and letting others decide for us is what got us where we are now. What our parents did, which was to trust that someone who cares would do the right thing. So, how do you think that worked out?

Bill Allin is the author of Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for people who want things to change for the better. Social problems depend on our doing nothing, were created because we let others make decisions for us. This book shows a path for change without great cost or revolution.
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Darwin Was An Atheist and Other Lies We Were Taught

Darwin Was An Atheist and Other Lies We Were Taught

Charles Darwin was the ultimate atheist, or so we have been led to believe.

“As a Deist, Charles Darwin believed that God set in motion the physical laws
of the universe, which he proposed included laws of “natural selection” and
the mutability of the species. Clearly, Charles Darwin was not an Atheist, and those among the
‘conservative’ Theists who misrepresent him as such, do him great disservice. ”
– Bill M. Tracer in Biography, September 7, 2007

Science cast Darwin as the godfather of the modern belief in a godless evolution of everything by molding his reputation into something Darwin himself would have strongly disapproved of.

Science, in general, approves only of facts and theories it can prove or that it believes it can prove in the future as more data becomes available–and nothing of anything science can’t understand or comprehend at the moment–it ignores Darwin’s belief in a creator because the belief didn’t fit with what the powers of the science establishment want us to believe.

Darwin saw creation as a work in progress, not as a six-day one-time series of events that happened a few thousand years ago. He likely wondered why an all-powerful deity needed to rest after one week of work and how a deity that didn’t live on earth supposedly created everything according to an earthly calendar of six earth days. And maybe why spirits of good people who had died and gone to heaven needed streets paved with gold–or any kind of streets for that matter.

Ironically, Darwin’s God seemed to work like a good and diligent scientist today, including making the odd mistake and working toward new horizons of creation. Instead of wiping out his mistakes (think the Great Flood of the Bible) God tweaks his creations and lets them develop and evolve into something better on their own.

Unlike modern scientists who believe that if they can prove or understand something it couldn’t possibly have been created by a deity

–that is, if I can understand it, it can’t be of divine origin–Darwin saw connections he believed could never be explained or understood. His grasp of “everything” known was much greater than science of today will even acknowledge exists.

Extra-sensory perception (ESP), one identical twin feeling pain when the other is hurt, even many forms of original thinking fall outside of what science today is prepared to accept or understand. It simply ignores what it can’t comprehend, as if nothing exists or is real unless it fits inside the box science made for itself. Witness how hard it was for Einstein’s ideas or any other major theory backed by considerable mathematical evidence to be accepted as mainstream.

(As an aside, science has also cast Darwin as the wise old man with the long white beard, if you remember images of him, like a venerable Greek philosopher. Darwin was actually clean shaven for most of his life. He only grew the beard late in his life because he found shaving too hard on his skin. The beard photos convey the image of respect science wants people to have of Charles Darwin, even though science his misrepresented his theories.)

Friedrich Nietzsche

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
– Nietzsche (first written in The Gay Science, later in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, this version in “The Madman”)

Nietzsche must have had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek when he wrote this. Others, following his full explanations of how fantastical and unsupportable the descriptions of hundreds of gods of various religions around the world, claim that man created God in his own image, not the other way around.

The Christian God, for example, is not the God that Jesus of Nazareth spoke of in the Bible, but a semi-creation of Paul as he created his church in Greece. The Christian God of Paul (and of the Church of Rome that followed his lead) was a Father–Christians of the day were sexists who could not abide by a non-male God, Rome still does not accept women priests–with female characteristics.

He is kind, loving, caring, protective, helpful, attentive to all prayers and watchful of every move we make and notes every thought we think. Just like a good mother caring for a young child. The fact that no evidence exists of these characteristics in real life affects nothing to the religious propaganda.

The Followers of Jesus of Nazareth in the Holy Land, on the other hand, were Jews who had female leaders (Mary Magdalene, among others) as well as male leaders and who believed in peace and love, as taught by Jesus. The Church of Rome systematically had them destroyed, most by 250 CE, the rest in the Inquisition.

The fact that the Christian God (the same God as that of the Jews and Muslims) also must have created devastating diseases, natural disasters that have killed millions over the years and atrocities such as genocide the Abrahamic religions conveniently attribute to the Devil. Which they decline to admit must also have been created by the same God. But the Devil has given Christians a convenient dumping ground for everything they don’t like about creation and everything unpleasant they can’t explain about life and their own religion.

Nietzsche was not an atheist at all. He wanted religions to reformulate their concepts of God to conform with what is real, provable and even that may be sensed by people who are attuned to something beyond the material world. It was false gods that he wanted to be dead and buried.

Nietzsche could see a real divinity at work–perhaps even that nothing could exist without that deity–but he had no opportunity to be heard among the voices that shouted against him. His concept of existentialism was twisted to make it seem like nihilism or unfettered moral licence.

He believed that we should live today, for today is all we have. Whatever we are going to do, we should do it today. Not because we won’t exist tomorrow but because tomorrow’s conditions may have changed to prevent the good we want to do today from happening.


As a student in a media advertising class many years ago I was assigned to write commercials that appealed to the emotions. Those emotions should preferably appeal directly to some need my target market would have.

What if my viewers or listeners or readers didn’t need what my sponsor had to sell? “Create a need” was the reply. You can always create a need if you base it on an emotion, such as vanity or the need for acceptance.

So we have a cosmetics industry founded on the belief that looking like a movie star is right and good. Revlon, founded by Charles and Joseph Revson and Charles Lachman (he contributed the “L” to the company name) began in the makeup rooms of movie sets in the 1930s. Every woman, they reasoned, wanted to look like a movie star.

The mind-molding advertising campaigns over the years have been so successful that the fact that a majority of men looking for a female mate want to see what she looks like without makeup matters little. Their advertising makes fortunes every year.

We have commercials to convince us that battery operated tooth brushes can reach places that “manual” brushes cannot, a concept that apparently doesn’t stagger the beliefs of buyers. They also do not encourage us to use floss, where real cavities begin–tooth decay almost never begins where people brush, instead it starts between the teeth and at the gum line–because there is little money to be made by selling cheap floss material.

We have car manufacturers encouraging us to buy new cars so our old ones don’t break down on our way to work–and so we will look especially good in them–but they don’t make cars better so they won’t break down as often. We don’t hear about military vehicles breaking down in the middle of battles, so manufacturers must be able to make durable vehicles.

In conclusion, let me leave you with one personal experience. As a student in a grade seven geography class, I found myself intensely interested in a map of the world on the wall, moreso than the lesson being delivered. As the tropics were very different from temperate Canada, my homeland, I was eager to learn about tropical countries so different from what I had experienced.

I noticed that the name Ecuador seemed strangely different from the names of its neighbouring countries which were mostly named after people or names in European nations. I also observed that the equator ran straight through the map of Ecuador.

Being a student of modest achievement and struggling enough with English that I knew nothing of any other language, I asked my teacher if the country name derived from its location on the planet, at the equator. No, I was assured, the similarities of the two words were mere coincidence. The very idea was dismissed quickly, with a sneer from the teacher for my interruption.

“Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name.”

What can we learn from all this? No source can be trusted completely. Question everything. The truth does not emerge smoothly and effortlessly from what we see, hear and read on a daily basis. is an emotional force designed to sell product or concepts that will generate cash flow. The most successful advertisers have learned how to manipulate human emotions so people believe they need things they really don’t need. “Advertising” is a cleaner and more socially acceptable word for “brainwashing.” was an evil atheist who wanted to destroy everything religion has ever stood for.

As Bill Tracer said in our opening quote, Charles Darwin was a Deist based on the evidence he saw in his travels and understood from sorting his copious data.

Failure to doubt, to question and to do our own research opens us to be victims of those who want nothing more than to take from us. That applies to our devotion to beliefs as well as to our money.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to teach children what they need to know, when they need to know it, rather than leaving too much to their learning on the street.
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When The Experts Are Just Plain Wrong

When The Experts Are Just Plain Wrong

‘I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.’
Ursula K. Le Guin, American author (b. 1929)

‘You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium.’
Ursula K. Le Guin, American author (b. 1929)

If these two quotes give evidence of one thing, it’s that just because a person is an expert in one thing does not give him the right to believe that he is on every subject.

By virtue of the needs of his art, a writer must be a thinker. However, there is no requirement that the thinking be clear, orderly, logical or that the material presented must be truthful. We need only follow the spoutings of pastors and politicians to show that.

Members of other professions, experienced with receiving respect for their knowledge and skills within the context of their work, often come to believe that their thinking must be correct on all subjects. Engineers and architects, for example, seldom admit they don’t know something. We call it arrogance when they act as if others don’t know what they are talking about and hubris when they can’t imagine being wrong.

As admirable as Le Guin’s writings are, especially her utopian science fiction, I can’t help taking issue with the two quotes that began this article. They are based on her thinking, her understanding of the world. On the subjects of education (child development) and ecology, her understanding may be of questionable value to the rest of us.

First, it’s true that children do not grow into eggplants. However, many grow into adults with precious little imagination and ability to think for themselves. Consider that the average American, for example, has his television running more than five hours a day. Television, the great stupidifier, encourages people to not think by providing them with whatever the producer wants his audience to know and believe. Viewers are not allowed to think for themselves if they follow the producer’s intentions.

Look at the lineup of television programs that grace (or disgrace) the screen these days and you will find faked reality shows, home videos that show people at their absolute stupidest, soap operas that demonstrate the worst in human morals and compassion and advertising designed to convince simple minds that they should become poor and unhealthy by buying the products advertised.

Not eggplants, no. But television is doing its best to bring human intelligence down to the level close to at least a smart eggplant. When the computer is the entertainment of choice, we have YouTube to show us that many people have reached that level of intelligence already.

Ursula Le Guin seems to live in a world protected from the realities of entertainment by the average person. For one thing, she reads, which gives her perspectives that non-readers never experience. Reading stimulates the imagination as television, the internet, movies and video games never can. She can’t conceive of people not having an imagination. She is sadly mistaken.

As an educator who has taught young children as well as older ones, I can tell you that imagination has been all but eliminated (at least channeled) in many of them before they leave primary school. As I classroom teacher I found it hard to stimulate children to be creative in non-traditional ways.

As for ecology, Le Guin is correct that the universe is in equilibrium. However, she is dead wrong that nothing should change. Nature itself is the greatest force for change.

When one factor changes or many change as a result of natural disaster or human tragedy, nature regroups and establishes a new equilibrium.

Look what happened after the disaster 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. Whether an asteroid struck our planet or climate change eliminated the food dinosaurs ate matters little now. What matters is that mammals succeeded them, and here we are.

Look what happened 225 million years ago when as much as 97 percent of life on land and 85 percent of life in the oceans were wiped out.

Nature adjusts. The universe establishes equilibrium with whatever conditions exist at the time. No matter if we destroyed ourselves, nature would adjust to a new equilibrium.

When Le Guin recommends that we “must not change one thing” for fear of upsetting the equilibrium she fails to understand the concept. In fact, we must change what we do that is destructive, at the least.

We need to consider as many consequences of what we do as we can possibly conceive. We will never know them all, positive or negative. We will always make mistakes and have some successes.

What’s more important is that we must not let those who will profit in the future from mistakes we allow to be made today convince us that we are doing the right thing by ignoring the negative consequences of the action. As the saying goes: if something looks too good to be true, it likely is.

US wars in Iraq and Vietnam spring to mind, events costing millions of lives and trillions of dollars. With nothing gained from either but obscene wealth for suppliers of war materials and fuels. Education, meanwhile, suffers as teachers must do without more and more.

Demanding that politicians tell us the truth and the whole truth will never work. The only thing that will work is to educate all people, all children, and to promote diligence and civic responsibility actively.

Doing nothing out of fear of making mistakes and allowing the imaginations of our children to be destroyed through rigid teaching methods and strict control (consider the tragedies of Zero Tolerance, for example) do nothing to make the world a better place.

Denying the truth simply makes it worse. We teach and learn or we suffer the consequences.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to know what to teach children that will help their development, and when.
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Who Can You Trust?

The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.
– Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author and slavery abolitionist (1811-1896)

Surely truth is all around us. Our newspapers as well as our radio and television newscasts are filled with truth. Actually, they are filled with facts, many of which have been edited to give the one-sided impression to readers and viewers that the media owners want us to believe. Beyond that they express opinion, often supported by nothing more than fictional “information.”

We elect politicians to work on our behalf, to represent us in the governments of our country, our state or province and our municipality, then to return to us the truth about what is going on at their respective legislative levels. But bridges collapse due to neglect, people get fired or resign regularly for corruption or unacceptable social behaviour and some corporations become obscenely wealthy from government contracts.

Sometimes our political leaders distort the facts enough–then preach them as truth–that we support going to war over them. Osama bin Laden is still at large in Afghanistan’s eastern mountains and Iraq is anything but a settled democracy. So much for the truth about weapons of mass destruction (other than the ones the United States gave to Saddam to use against Iran) and the rapid disappearance of the Taliban.

Television brings us truth in its documentaries. Sometimes. Again, producers edit the facts to convey the impressions they want us to believe. For example, how many well fed people have you seen in documentaries filmed in Africa? When they conduct campaigns–such as about global warming–opposing points of view rarely receive due consideration so that we can get a balanced collection of information on which to base an informed opinion ourselves.

Mostly they give a one-sided opinion, albeit with an overload of facts to support their opinion, and leave us to believe it’s the only conclusion possible.

Fortunately we have our places of worship to turn to as refuge from the onslaught of hype and distorted facts. Then again, no two churches, mosques, synagogues or temples preach similar versions of truth about their respective religions. And opinions vary within each about what is right and what is not, though the minorities are usually silenced quickly.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the quote that began this article, was one of the most influential authors–mostly through her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin–who moved governments on both sides of the Atlantic to abolish slavery. (Her sister was the motivator who encouraged Harriet to write a novel because of her “talent with a pen.”) Yet even she has been accused of wanting to keep freed slaves poor and submissive, like Uncle Tom.

Mrs. Stowe submitted that truth is the kindest thing we can give to people. With the amount of lies, propaganda, distorted facts and opinions masquerading as facts that surround us, we must wonder if we could recognize truth if it jumped up and slapped us in the face.

Even at the most personal level we have come to believe that “white lies” are acceptable in certain situations in order to be tactful or polite. Women apparently don’t want to know the truth about their new dress or weight gain or hair style any more than men want to know about their personalities, their neatness or their future job prospects.

Do we deserve the truth?

Do you deserve the truth from others? Do you want the truth?

Do you tell the truth at all times? If not, you have no right to expect it from others. And–count on it–you won’t get the truth from them..

In a world where everyone’s wrong, it’s hard to know who or what might be right.

Let’s start a revolution. Let begin telling the truth, as best we can, as best we know it. Like the domino effect of people smiling at each other–very effective, by the way, as lots of research shows–we may find others doing the same.

Imagine a world where you could trust others to tell the truth. Imagine being able to believe what you heard or read. It could happen.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to begin programs of truth-telling with the children they teach so that they will grow into a world they can trust.
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The Difference Between Your Illusions And Reality

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How beautiful it would be to see man wrestle with his illusions and vanquish them.
– Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian writer awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 (1911-2006)

What a spectacle! There’s nothing that some people like better than to watch someone destroy themselves. But is that what Mahfouz intended?

Indeed, is it even possible to wrestle with our own illusions without destroying ourselves?

Illusions are all we have to work with when we perceive the world. We believe what we see, hear, taste, touch and smell is the real thing. But it’s never the same as someone else who experiences the exact same thing.

One of the closest possible human relationships is marriage. Yet as much as people share in a marriage and as close to sharing the same experiences and goals as people get, when they separate or divorce they seldom think that the relationship failed for the same reasons. Indeed, each usually believes that the other was responsible for the breakup. They don’t even remember the same events that were such good experiences the same way.

If you want a real shock, sit a few friends down with you, individually, and ask them to candidly describe you, the kind of person you are, your likes and dislikes, what you are like as a friend, your attitudes toward the world around you. It would be extremely rare for any of them to be accurate or similar. What’s more, none will be like your own impression of yourself.

We have not just an opinion about ourselves, but an illusion about who we are. No one else shares that illusion because no one else has or can experience the world around us the same way we have or do. Even the timing of experiences affects our impressions of reality. The same experience in early childhood is perceived much differently in adulthood.

When we go to sleep, we dream a kind of reality that we can’t support as “real” when we are awake. Yet the truth is that no one is certain which is reality and which is mere illusion, the wakeful perceptions or the dreams. Our brains function differently when we dream than when we are awake. Even our own brain can’t tell which is real to it and which is not. To our brain, both are real, just different realities.

Most of us convince ourselves that our waking experiences are the real ones, but that is what we have been taught since early childhood. (“It’s only a dream. It’s not real.”)

Mahfouz meant that it would be beautiful if we were to tackle our misguided illusions and vanquish them. That is, the ones that are too far away from the reality that others perceive of us. In his way he is saying that he wants us all to deal with the realities of the world in the same way, as if we were each one component of a greater entity or reality.

Would that make us all followers, pets of a greater power that determines the fates of all of us? Some believe that to be true anyway. Others believe that free will is our blessing.

No matter which way we choose for our life, we choose our own illusions. If that is the case, it only makes sense to choose the ones that will serve us well over the long term, instead of the many harmful components that people choose for themselves for the short term.

And how long is the long term anyway? Some say it ends when we die. Others say that this life is but one small part of a continuum or that this life is an individual experience set that we will use when we rejoin the greater entity after death.

Choose your illusions wisely.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about guiding children to create safe and productive personal illusions for their lives so that they can be confident and competent adults.
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