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“We are so accustomed to disguising ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.” ~ Francois De La Rouchefoucault
We are living in a time of rampant duplicity.
Whether because of fear, guilt, denial, or simple laziness, so many of us are reluctant to show up as our true selves and to stand up for our true beliefs.
We’ve traded taking responsibility and living authentically for hiding behind social media pseudonyms, placing blame for society’s problems on those we deem “other,” and spreading unsubstantiated claims as truth—just because it feeds our sense of righteousness.
At the same time, the truth is seriously in jeopardy as news and social media outlets viciously accuse each other of lies and one-sidedness. We find ourselves questioning our own critical thinking abilities to discern reality over deception.
Consider all the events that took place in the United States in 2020 and are still playing out at the onset of 2021. When our way of life that appeared safe and predictable was turned on its head due to the deadly coronavirus, we all got caught up in the blaming and finger-pointing that got in the way of a cohesive response. From the shenanigans and treachery of political leadership, to defiance and lack of personal responsibility in keeping ourselves and others safe, the pandemic has now claimed more than 385,000 lives in the U.S.—nearly twice as many as any other country in the world. How can this be acceptable?
Further, the extreme economic toll that the pandemic has taken, not to mention the racial and socioeconomic disparities among the communities hit hardest by the virus, are further points of divisiveness and distrust.
When protests ignited over police brutality that resulted in the deaths of several Black people, beginning with Breonna Taylor in January and reaching a fever pitch after the death of George Floyd in May, divisive rhetoric turned peaceful protests into riots and violence.
And, unfounded challenges to the 2020 presidential election results and venomous partisan attacks threatened the peaceful transition of power that is fundamental to our democracy.
Is this existential crisis we’re experiencing attributed to our flagrant disregard of authenticity as a way of life?
We’ve arrived where we are as a society because we didn’t protect what’s most genuine and precious to us. We’ve let authenticity slip away as a value that we hold near and dear in our lives. Therefore, we’re now desperately searching for solid ground where we can regain our stable footing amongst all the duplicity, falsity, and insincerity.
We must consciously ask ourselves: Did we deceive ourselves somewhere along the way, allowing all hell to break loose? Were we complicit in spreading divisiveness? Did we fail to take personal responsibility that allowed the spread of the pandemic? Did we stand idly by when we witnessed exclusion or racism? Did we condone political hypocrisy?
It’s important to take measure of our own duplicitous behavior.
Did we choose to live inauthentically because we were afraid to live honestly, and if so, why?
It’s far easier to project blame on someone else or some other group than to take responsibility or admit to ourselves that we haven’t lived up to our authentic selves.
We must move beyond this continuous cycle of blaming and finding fault in those that we perceive as failing us. We must own that we alone have deceived and failed ourselves and look within ourselves to find a way to recapture our personal responsibility.
To live authentically means that we must live honestly and speak our truth, even in the face of opposition. We needn’t speak it with anger or hatred in our voices, but with the intention to come together in our shared humanity.
We must find a way to stop all the deception to ourselves and to each other in how we relate to one another. We can no longer accept duplicity over authenticity. Choosing to denigrate or censor those that oppose us is not living authentically.
Living authentically means we embody truth: we live truth and act no other way than truthfully. And, if we find ourselves allowing truth to hurt or harm another, then we’re deceiving ourselves.
The kind of truth we need right now is fueled by compassion and the intention to change for the collective good.
Let authenticity guide us as we look for a better way forward.