The ability of humanity to share stories and myths is an important part of our cognitive evolution. This has led to a remarkable advancements in human ingenuity and endeavour.
Essentially we share fictions, we share realities. Knowledge is constantly evolving and updating so there is no discreet boundary between fables, stories, propaganda and reality — they dissolve into one another. As we go about our lives, our worlds shift from illusion to reality and back again feeding into one another, changing our perceptions of ourselves and the universe we inhabit.
Because of this, people are vulnerable to the “illusory truth effect”, where repeated exposure to information gives perception of truth — the more you hear it, the more you believe it. This is a very powerful process. Religions, rituals, advertising jingles, songs, all rely on endless repetition to bring something into reality — to make it real. Our whole society is based on these repeated “illusory truths”.
So illusion morphs into some kind of reality and without exercising the mind, without stepping back and looking at the whole picture, we get stuck in a sort of quasi-reality. Basically we start to believe in our own bullshit.
This is manifesting in our time now because more and more people don’t believe in the old paradigm anymore — they feel conned, deceived. The shrill media pumps out so much blather and baloney that people stop believing in anything or they believe in absolute nonsense — alternative facts. The shared narrative, the tribal cohesion is breaking down from larger institutional controlled units to decentralised smaller generated units.
Essentially the technosphere excoriates our heartfelt spirituality by constantly engaging the mind in endless repetitive rules and obligations.
The worlds created are often not compatible and are solipsistic and self-referential. It can make humanity vulnerable, people behaving like sheep and following well established but outdated norms or aggressive, populist leaders. We are not aware.
But the way a society stays together is to have shared stories that everyone agrees upon. They have an important function as without them society begins to fracture and is in danger of unravelling.
So what do we do? Some say we should actively seek an opportunity to be polite and generous and turn the other cheek. That’s how we change the culture. Fair enough. That works in a society that is basically getting along and you are chipping around the edges, tidying things up.
But when the very institutions that we have to be deferential to are breaking down because of systematic corruption and wonton deception, it creates a vacuum of authority. We no longer believe. We have lost trust.
So, if you put up your hand saying, “excuse me, shouldn’t it be different?” — it attracts a gentle insinuation that you are a nutter or taking things a bit too far. Such actions threaten the existence of the institutions. You are in the words of George Orwell conveying thoughtcrime.
The only way for discourse with the establishment, with the machine like system, is to attain approval first. But as long as one does so, nothing will change. The fringe dwellers and others are sidelined.
So the well established players — the professor sitting in their university post; the media talking head lecturing on the need for proper and polite discourse from the masses; the politician trying to convince you of their vision — are pushing their narrative all the while their comrades in authority are deceiving the people with their illusory truths.
Understanding that many societal paradigms are illusory — designed to keep the status quo, to centralise power — the way to deal with a cold, restrictive, overarching establishment is to back-peddle and have few opinions
“What do you think of the government”? – “Not much — as little as possible in fact”.
“That executive is a scumbag” – “Really? You think so? Look at that bird there, isn’t it wonderful.”
And a part of this back-peddling, as I mentioned earlier, is to take in the big picture of exactly what is going on.
So, Ruth, what is truth? Truth is not written down. It’s not an opinion that we have created over time to justify our actions, our job, our relationships, our life. Truth is not the well traversed, deep tribal path eating away at our soul, obscuring any other path before us.
Our safety lies in our spirituality and the ability come back to that place of tenderness, of warmth; to remove ourselves from the tribal mind and observe the shenanigans of the world as theatre. From this we acknowledge that there are no true universal truths we all believe in, but what comes close is the gentle, golden middle path that at times we can wander off and explore.
And never forgot that our path, our thoughts are amenable to change.
In closing I like to think of the famous words taught to Bender: “If you do things right, people won’t be sure you have done anything at all“