To mention that we live in a society that is awash in deception is to restate the obvious. We begin our childhood by being deceived by the adults around us. They rarely question the practice of deception; in fact, they seem to enjoy doing it. We kids eventually discover the adults’ deceit and engage in it ourselves.
A prime example is the cultural practice of promoting Santa Claus. Santa is one of the most socially acceptable deceptions our society employs. A simple early Greek Orthodox Christian bishop became known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. His supposed practice of giving assistance to the needy–particularly poor children–has been inflated into the bearded, red-suited magical being who distributes gifts on Christmas Eve. Embellishments have been added through the years to help the myth conform to modern norms.
The Santa myth seems harmless on the surface, however it manages to promote desire for material possessions and greed. The deception fosters the acceptablity of high expectations. Basic wisdom informs us that frustrated desire and failed high expectations are root causes of anguish and suffering. After several weeks of holiday preparation and shopping, Christmas arrives but fails to meet the glorified experience of excessive consumption we’ve been told would happen. The next day, department stores are flooded with people exchanging the gifts that they told the givers they adored. Is it any wonder that many people are cynical about the Holiday Season?
We consider Christmas hype one of the lesser deceptions so we give it a pass. However, anyone who has purchased a motor vehicle, major home appliances, and real estate has learned to be skeptical about sellers’ claims–or should have. Certainly, I have not overlooked the non-stop partisan haranguing that somehow passes for political discourse. Millions of citizens defend tooth and nail, the deceptions of people who thirst for power. Deception of this scale threatens the well-being of our democratic republic. Yet, we accept the deceit as standard practice.
The point of today’s short post is not to only drag out the obvious, but to remind the reader of the importance of informed skepticism. Hidden greed, pyramid schemes, unusual claims, weird arts, and exceptional claims lie in wait to cause national and personal calamity. By keeping a clear, questioning mind, we can better avoid being drawn into the wiles of deception.
Most importantly, it is best not to deceive others nor oneself. To avoid self-deception is a noteworthy achievement. When one is able to avoid deception both in public and alone, she/he has reached a major milestone.
Personally, whenever someone urges me to believe, my mental radar is activated. Skepticism, not cynicism, has saved me from considerable disappointment and grief. There will probably always be people who make a big deal about their morality. They are often brought down by their own immorality. Those who claim to know the exclusive way to happiness end up being exposed of their ignorance. Instead of creating unnecessary conflict and discord, it is best to integrate harmony and authenticity in one’s daily life.
It has been said by the ancients of many cultures, that when we encounter dishonest people, greet them with sincerity. When we meet violent people, carefully show them gentility. When we are in the company of unjust, warped people, inspire them with justice. This is not the easy way to live, but it is the most simple and satisfying way to go about one’s life. Anyway, these are just my opinions. Your skepticism and its results may vary.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Portuguese writer, Maximillian Degenerez. “Insight into character comes from listening intently to the spoken word. The physical person, their charisma, charm and dramatic flair is more often used to persuade audiences, as they use these stealth tools of disguise and deception.”