“A Poker Game in Heaven … “ | Image by mrbill78636 via Flickr/Creative Commons
American society is divided not only along political lines but in a much deeper sense. The Trump era and how it perpetuates obvious lies and galvanizes supporters to latch on every falsehood that comes out of his mouth has revealed an interesting fact about the nature of reality. How do we know that what he and his followers hold as true are, in fact, not grounded on the truth?
Take Covid-19. They claim everything about the pandemic is a mere product of the liberal media and politics. The novel Covid-19 is undeniably real. As real as the over 500,000 Americans died from it and those infected now almost 30 million and counted? Mask wearing, which has been politicized to save lives and cut down the virus’s rapid spread, is not a myth.
Compare the rates of Covid infections and deaths between the U.S. and countries that made masks wearing part of their early mitigation strategy. We all know those countries did better than the U.S. in taming the virus. Never in history had a losing candidate been able to spin a defeat into an on-going belief of victory despite mounting evidence on the contrary. And the illusion is consumed unquestioningly by adoring droves of followers.
Consensus reality is that which is generally agreed to be the fact based on a majority’s view. The challenge lies in the human mind’s epistemological limits to grasp the nature of knowledge or knowing. Therefore, it is impossible to be certain beyond doubt what is real or the nature of reality. This brings me back again to my childhood growing up in a small village in the Philippines. I pride myself on being a man of science; however, my higher education belies an early childhood dominated by what many will consider superstitions and supernatural beliefs and experiences.
“Consensus reality is that which is generally agreed to be the fact based on a majority’s view. The challenge lies in the human mind’s epistemological limits to grasp the nature of knowledge or knowing. Therefore, it is impossible to be certain beyond doubt what is real or the nature of reality.”
The consensus reality within my town’s orbit involved beliefs in spirits or supernatural beings, malevolent or not, faith healers, and witches. I have witnessed and experienced difficult events to explain outside the agreed-upon reality of the people that populated my childhood. This raises an important question, “How does an alternate reality espoused by a group take its roots in the human mind?” My youth’s simple folks tried to explain and understand events, operations, and processes in nature outside their ordinary or commonplace experience. These were phenomena that baffled their mind.
These attempts at knowing are different from efforts to deny unpalatable facts and experience or demonize ideas or concepts that a group finds disagreeable. These often arise as a psychological defense mechanism, a means of coping with a difficult reality. Mythologies that try to explain the unexplainable are healthy operations of a limited mind. On the other hand, the excessive deployment of psychological defenses, such as denial or fantasy, is an unhealthy mind’s pathological symptom.
The folkways that developed around beliefs in nature, spirits, and supernatural beings that I grew up with were adaptation strategies employed by simple folks to lessen the terror of least understood phenomena in nature. They sought deities to appease and implore protection from the mysterious forces of nature.
“We can’t hide behind the blinders of “group-think” to change the reality we deny. The devil can assume the form of a lamb and mislead us with rhetoric that pleases the ear but clouds the mind. Each of us must confront the cobwebs of our thought to see the light of reason and bring us closer to the truth.”
The other source of fear is man-made, involving concepts and ideas such as prejudice, ideology, racial superiority, gender inequality, political party, etc. To alleviate the anxiety generated by whichever side we find ourselves in these ideas’ polarity, some among us seek validation from a leader or a savior who will liberate us from the source of our fear. Whoever responds to the clarion call, no matter how flawed, is regarded as the savior to whom many throw in their lot blindly.
Ultimately, there is no refuge from our fear, no mortal with a magic wand to calm the stormy sea of our lives. We can’t hide behind the blinders of “group-think” to change the reality we deny. The devil can assume the form of a lamb and mislead us with rhetoric that pleases the ear but clouds the mind. Each of us must confront the cobwebs of our thought to see the light of reason and bring us closer to the truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at email@example.com.