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“Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.” ~ Voltaire
I think a lot about telling the truth and how important it is to live the truth.
We must strive to own our baggage—all that closed-minded stuff we carry around for reasons unique to us. Our ideas, beliefs, notions, and opinions evolve over time. They come from our experiences—which can really mess with the way we look at life. Our past lays the groundwork for our emotional complexity as we move forward.
But truth in life is about facts—not feelings—and while the facts are not always welcome, they are a refreshing revelation if we allow them to permeate our feelings, and change what we misguidedly believe to be true.
Honesty comes from changing our minds about our feelings when we are presented with real, irrefutable facts. We are put on the earth to grow, and growth stems from honesty.
Here’s the thing: There is a disease that is growing rapidly across the world. It’s called denial.
It’s the enemy of truth, and it’s ruining lives. It clutches the hand of apathy, and it serves no purpose other than to keep us stuck forever. Denial is not the same as ignorance. Denial is knowing deep down what the facts conclude, while clinging to a feeling because that feeling is ingrained. It’s also about pretending to be powerless.
This is what denial looks and sounds like:
Climate change? No, can’t be. Nothing’s changing. It always snows in Florida. I don’t notice anything different. Science is wrong and the facts are made up. Nothing is melting, and the weather and seasons all over the world aren’t becoming more extreme. Environmental regulation is simply liberal agenda that thwarts progress, and nothing more. I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t believe it. At all. Prove it. Oh, you have? Well, I still don’t believe it.
Gun laws? Why? Why would we need any rules whatsoever regarding guns? Guns are fine. Guns are great. I love my guns. How dare you take away my guns—even though you’re not proposing to take them away, you’re only proposing limits and rules regarding ownership. But still. No one needs a background check, that’s silly. No one should ever have to wait to buy a weapon. That’s not what my country is all about. I don’t want to wait. I’m a collector, that’s all. And I really like assault rifles! Why? Because I like them, that’s why.
God? Yes, my God is the only God and what he says is my truth. Everyone else’s God is false. Mine is the best. He’s number one. He’s the real one. Why? I don’t know, but it’s how I was raised.
Rape? Well, she was drunk. That was just a few minutes of action behind a dumpster . She wasn’t conscious? Well, why does that matter? What was she thinking wearing that skirt? She should have stayed home. Everyone knows she’s a slut, so why does it matter?
Smoking? Yes, I’m a smoker and I’m sick and tired of people telling me to quit. I can quit when I want to and I believe that when our time is up we die and nothing I do now will change why or when. It is what it is. My grandmother lived to be 80 years old and she smoked a pack a day practically her whole life. I’m going to be just like her.
Racist police? There are none! All police officers are great, just like all people are great! They only want what’s best for the people in the communities they patrol. If you look suspicious then you must be doing something wrong. You shouldn’t drive your car. You shouldn’t walk down the street in a sweatshirt. Just stop being so “black” and you’ll be fine. No one will mess with you.
Time? Me? I don’t have any. I have too much going on right now and not enough time for anything. Time is something I just don’t have. I can’t do anything except all the things I already do that are priorities over the things I really want to do. More time would be great, but I just don’t have it. Oh, you’re saying that we all have the same amount of time? Well, I don’t.
Trump? He tells it like it is. He’s a great businessman. Yes, I’m a woman but I don’t care about his past. His wall and his immigration policy are terrific ideas. Keep everyone out and make America exclusive. By the grace of God, I was born in this country (that was happily inhabited already, but then built and destroyed by my ancestors, who were nice white immigrants), and it’s my right, not theirs, to live here. I have every right to live in this country that prospered on the whipped backs of slaves. I was born here goddamn it. I’m the special one!
Denial creates a mask. I helps us live incognito within ourselves and it creates the spectrum of beliefs that run from indifference to intolerance to ignorance. All are harmful. When nothing is happening, nothing can happen, so nothing changes. Denial keeps us sheltered from the truth, and when we don’t face the truth, change does not follow.
When we deny the truth, we deny our future and our children’s future. Without seeing the truths in our lives—the good, the bad, and the ugly—we cannot move forward. Pay attention to research and simply look around. The truth-seekers who are actively standing up and fighting certain realities—guns, crooked police, climate change, rape—are our leaders not our enemies.
If we live with the disease of denial long enough, we grow accustomed to it as our actual truth. Denial is the boil on the face of humanity’s progress. It must be lacerated and drained repeatedly.
When we deny, we think we are safe, but the opposite is true. Denial of fact is way more dangerous than any thing, person, or fallacy-fueled ideology.
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Image: Nicole Mason/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson