Friday, December 25, 2015
One of the annoying aspects of modern life, especially around the time of the holidays, is the proliferation of signs in shop windows urging us to Believe.
In what? I ask myself. There's a particularly gooey one in the window of a local real estate agency. Believe, it says, in red letters with sparkles and curlicues. In the future of riverside real estate, I guess. Or in the benevolence of your fellow man. Parked nearby is a Florida geezer car covered with cranky bumper stickers. Hilary Lies! says one of them. Well, of course she does. Is she not a politician? Are not her lips moving? They all lie. So what?
That an angry old white man from Florida would not understand this seems sort of pathetic to me. Grow up, old man. It's the way of the world. Forty years or so ago I was married to a man who wasn't Harold. One day about the time of the breakup I realized that it was futile to converse with him, because all he would say was whatever he wanted me to believe. Most people in public life are the same way. After they talk to you, you know nothing you didn't know before except what they want you to think.
If you want Truth, you have to dig for it. It helps to have a solid education. Children should be taught what facts are all about, and to trust their own informed judgment. It helps even more to have trustworthy, hard-working journalists uncovering the things we need to know. An enlightened populace is supposed to be running this country, after all.
Belief is charming, but it's important to know what's real. Once when I was little my sister and I played a game where we blindfolded ourselves and walked around in my grandmother's front yard. I walked into a large elm tree. I had a bump on my head for days. Yet another useful lesson.
Instead of a sign that says Believe, I would post one that says Keep Your Eyes Open. Or even, Study. It may not be as much fun as Believing. It's certainly more work. But for getting through life successfully, it's a lot more effective.
So this is my wish for you for the holidays, and for the coming year: May you study hard and learn things you never knew before. May your eyes always be open. May you find the Truth. May it be nothing you can't stand to hear.
© 2015 Kate Gallison