Elephants In The Room

It is a sad reality, though I wish it were not so, that most people do not want the truth. Most people neither want to hear nor to tell the truth, when we get to the bottom of matters. A great deal of the suffering of this life is due to people living under, believing, or trying to enforce upon others various kinds of falsehoods and delusions. Nonetheless, a great many people prefer the falsehood to the truth because they are afraid that they cannot handle the truth, and they often know (sadly) that others are not willing to face the truth, and so to preserve relationships that one appreciates, it is often necessary to suppress the truth, because to speak the truth is to the threaten the ground on which we stand and the relationships on which we depend.

Truth and lies hurt in different ways. The truth hurts in massive blows that hit us like a body shot in a boxing ring, knocking the wind out of us all at once as we stagger underneath the weight of the punches it gives. We pay the price in pain at first, and then gradually our recuperative powers allow us to recover, albeit a bit sobered and wounded, from our encounters with the harshness of truth. But lies hurt in a different way. They dull our senses asleep with false promises in their efficacy, they poison us and those around us little by little like a slow-acting poison in small doses, making us dependent on them for our well-being even as our minds are gradually cloaked in the constant fear that we will be seen (or that the institutions and people we love will be seen) for what we really are, a fraud. And yet because we doubt our strength and our ability to handle the truth and what people will say if they know or suspect the truth, all too often we prefer the corruption of the lie rather than the punishing but short-term blow of the truth, that once we weather we can rise above it and overcome it.

Why is this? Why do we assume ourselves to be weaker than we are? The vast majority of evil done by ourselves and others does not spring because we deliberately desire to harm others, but rather because we lash out against others in fear that they are threats, either in who they are or what they say. It is our insecurity and fear that largely drive us to do flagrant acts of wickedness, even as it is our lusts and ambitions that drive us into those sins that make us insecure about the truth. If we are able to successfully wrestle against our lusts and moderate our ambitions, we have less to be afraid of about the truth because we will have less to be ashamed of. However, if we have succumbed to our greed or lusts, especially to a large degree, we have something to hide, and that means that we become enemies of the truth until we have taken its blows and faced our fears down. Sadly, few of us seem willing to engage in that difficult and unpleasant task.

It seems that it is our hatred of unpleasantness that tends to lead us to ignore the elephants that are in the room. Because truth makes us pay now and rewards later, we see the costs of the truth as greater than the buy now, pay later manner of operation in deception. Because we see the future value and future costs approaching zero in our short-term calculations, anything that causes present suffering is to be avoided, and that means we cannot help but act in deceptive and unproductive ways. The lies we believe and tell are generally the result of a warped worldview that leads us to defend that which we have, regardless of whether we possess it legitimately or not, regardless of whether it can be sustained over the long-term or not, to the utmost while attacking with ferocity anything and anyone that threatens our position.

It is easy to see the responses of those who fear and hate the truth. There are personal attacks, there is derision and contempt, and there is a willingness to do anything necessary to drive away the slightest bit of realization that one’s course of action has been mistaken. There is the endless projection, the fronting of an aggressive confidence that hides deep fear and insecurity, the bullying aggression to cover for devastating weakness. We may mouth the familiar saying that the truth will set us free, but sadly most of us do not want to be free, because we believe that the truth will set us free from our superficial happiness, from what we treasure in life in our possessions and relationships, our offices and positions and status. And we may be right in these fears.

But the ultimate question is one of priorities. We show more faith in the temporary and passing aspects of this life than we do in any considerations of eternal judgment. We show more consideration for the right now than the future, for the short-term than for the long-term, and as a result we lie to ourselves and believe the self-serving lies that others tell us. If we really cared about the truth, it would not be hard to find, but it would require us to admit some painful things to ourselves, and given our desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure, our behavior is largely predictable. It is those who insist on digging and poking and prodding and speaking and searching for the truth who are our enemies, and so we treat them as such. If we told truths about ourselves, the truths we told about others might be more tolerable instead of mere clubs and weapons with which to attack someone selectively. But when we are so consumed with ourselves and with the present, no larger calculations are possible, and so we get the leaders and the deception that we deserve. Since few of us commit to the truth, we have a million strong delusions to compete for our sedatives of choice, to blind our eyes from seeing the elephants in the room that we cannot bear to admit.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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38 Responses to Elephants In The Room

  1. There is only one truth that we need to tell another person and that is that we love them unconditionally. Nothing more is requiered. Fear is our biggest contender and it is true that love conquers fear. One problem is that many believe that something must be complicated and complex to be of any value when the truth is really a simple matter of being truth-full and this has nothing to do with honesty but is more a matter of sincerity. The world has been decieved and lied to since the beginning or the “fall” and it has everything to do with that which is true and nothing about the “truth”. The truth is that which is true in relation to the five physical senses and what can be infered by the little that people put out by essence all in the immediate. Like Adam and Eve and how they covered over their “private parts”, they felt exposed. If we look inward deep and long enough we will see that we really are exposed to each other in so many different ways and that it is okay to admit we are none to perfect. The real problem is that many in the world live in constant denial and refuse to recognize the Carpenter’s Rule of which is “that which true”.

    • There are many truths that we need to tell others. But I think it is more import that we tell ourselves the truth. One of the biggest fears that people have when it comes to accepting or admitting the truth is the fear that we will not be loved for the way that we truly are. That is one of the biggest fears and lies that poisons our lives and our relationships. And looking both inward and outward, being a person of character and integrity and also loving the truth of others is a necessary and difficult balance to maintain.

  2. “It is our insecurity and fear that largely drive us to do flagrant acts of wickedness,”

    If I truly love my neighbour I cannot fear him/her. If I cannot fear him/her then I am not driven to harm or act out wickedly against them. We talk about ridding the world of evil when it is fear that we need to dissmiss. There may always be something evil in the world however, with a correct understanding of fear as an illusory thing and something that passes, one is not affected as many are who know only fear.

    • Indeed if we truly love our neighbors we will not fear them, nor will we oppress them. But love is definitely lacking in this world in many ways, and so we see the evils that exist. Fear will not get rid of all of evils; as I mentioned, some evils come about because of love and greed, while the evils that come about because of fear are often secondary in nature, as coverups. And the coverup is often worse than the crime, because we could be redeemed if we admitted what we were and repented of our evil, but our fear and pride lead us to cover it up and appear to be virtuous when we are not. It is not the source of all evil, but rather the means by which repentance and reformation are prevented from the start.

  3. I did not say that we will or can “get rid of all evils”. Where love is sincere, evil has little or no affect on a person. Imagined fear is the real problem.

    The word fear is a translation of an old English word fǣr which is defined as meaning “sudden terror”, or, “to terrify”, and to, “take by surprise”. [1] Going back as far as Old Saxon and Old High German we can find fār, which literally means “ambush, and danger,” Other related words are (fǣrslide) which translated simply means “a sudden fall”, and (fǣrrǣs), meaning “sudden rush”.

    • You’re not listening to what I’m saying. You seem to be blaming all evil on fear, whereas I am telling you that fear is a secondary evil given our terror about being found out for who we are and what we have done. Those evils we commit by which we are terrified at not being loved are not the result of the fear, but rather they are its cause, given that they provide the space between the way we are and the way we ought to be. And by ridding the fear, we do not rid all evil, but merely those secondary evils that result from trying to cover up the results of our lust or greed or passions, which are an aspect of all of our natures in some way or another.

  4. No, I am not “blaming all evil on fear. I am trying to show how love conquers fear because fear as we understand it today is a living entity that has force and controls people. Then again how did evil enter the world if it was not because of fear?

    • Well, let’s address that point then. Evil entered into the world because of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. It was after sin that mankind became afraid of the judgment of God, and sought to hide from our Maker. And so we have been hiding ever since. As I said, fear is a secondary sin, while our lust and pride and greed are primary sins. Love casts out fear, but one has to feel love and feel loved, and that is rare in this present evil world, for many would prefer to feel loved for what they appear and are not rather than actually be loved for who they are.

  5. “many would prefer to feel loved for what they appear and are not rather than actually be loved for who they are.”

    Isn’t this a problem of projected or “imagined fear”? What I am hearing is that although we know many of us are superficial, we accept this of each other or is it that we have come to expect it. So it is okay now to put on a front and wear a mask all the time. No-one wants to rock the boat I suspect. The pain from the truth is usually tempered with forgiveness and empathy but the pain from a lie festers and endures forever I can agree with you here. So now what do you suggest humankind do to correct this problem?

    • We cannot fix the problem in other people. Simply loving other people will not solve the problem (as much as we might wish it were so). We each have to take responsibility for ourselves, accepting the truths (both good and bad) about ourselves, feeling the love from our true friends and family (and from our Creator and Savior as well, as it should go without saying) and showing love and respect for others as they are and a deep concern for the truth. All we can do is strive to model godly behavior as best as possible ourselves to set an example for others to follow. But the choice of truth or delusion rests with each person individually. Because we are possessed of free will we cannot coerce someone else into being free from fear.

  6. “feeling the love from our true friends and family”

    What does it mean to be a “humane” being?

    “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
    Albert Einstein

    There came a point in my own life when I realized by my own personal suffering and fears that I give up and did decide to love all people unconditionally and without prejudice. The day I gave in this way only served to free myself from the darkness and the lonliness I felt. Today I feel as if i speak only that which true as it relates to all present in the immediate context, not the past and not the future, just the present. If anyone reads this I will say go out “now”, stop, look and listen for the fear in everyone you meet and deal with it accordingly as it presents itself in real time. Never be afraid to speak in apologetic tones as if it were your fault they feel the way they do. When we “lend” compasion and empathy, it will be “returned” as something borrowed and used for a time.

    We cannot be a “model citizen” because of jealousy and suspicion (prostilyzing) and we cannot coherce people because we are natural rebels, therefore we can only be direct in regards to the immediate circumstances while we strive to be consistent. It is the directness of approacj and the direct dealing of matters as they appear that we realize healing or relief. No-one really cares about the past or the future as we all want immediate relief from immediate circumstance until we can do this for our selves.

    • The problem with your ideal is that the present is only the now, and is in fact a major problem in that our society exists mainly for the present without respect for the past (or learning from the past) or without care for the future, and so our calamities result from being too present-minded. Of course living in the present frees one from cares, but it also makes one irresponsible and a parasitic dweller on this earth rather than someone doing good for the world, which requires recognizing that we are a part of a great chain of being that extends from the most remote pasts through the present to hopefully an eternal future. And by setting a good example, we do not seek to be evangelists in the manner of some, but rather it is entirely pointless to preach a way of life if we cannot show it to others. It is our example, and not our words, that is the best teacher.

  7. I understand the dangers of “living for the moment” and this is not my intention as my intention is to point out that we must deal affectively, and directly to be effective with each concern as they arise in the immediate and not give fear or (imagined fear) opportunity to take root and cause us to sin.

    “Sapere aude, carpe diem, memento mori”

    • Indeed, we cannot let fear take root in us and allow us to sin (that is the general point of the entry, commenting on why we so often live in fear and react accordingly). But in dealing with other people and our outside responsibilities we are limited in the sort of influence we have by what others have and how others have chosen either to accept the truth and wrestle with it or whether they wish to believe in a lie because of their own pride and fear. Again, we must separate our absolute responsibility for ourselves from our very limited and partial ability to affect others.

  8. Dare to be wise and sieze the moment but remember that you are mortal is the call of the day but it appears as to many it is translated, “beieve yourself to already be wise and have fun now and care not about death or future consequence.

    In my personal experience and from what I believe to be only “that which true” I can say that whenever I happen upon another person regardless of age, race, creed or culture, they can and do sense a certain sincerity that emminates from my person. Why is it this way? Because I am empty of myself I suspect and that this is indeed absurd. Again this leads us to the absurdity of human nature and the rejection of it or the lack of ability to recognize it as being pervasive intellect.

    • I would agree that one’s sincerity ought to be easily recognizable among others (as mine is as well), as most humans are at least a little bit intuitive. But again, the recognition that someone else is sincere does not necessarily lead one to be sincere, but it does present a model of that behavior if one is brave enough to follow it. Of course human beings are absurd. We cannot be otherwise, given our contradictory longings. But if we are honest, we can at least wrestle with our contradictions and become noble beings.

  9. “but it does present a model of that behavior if one is brave enough to follow it”

    Are you kidding me? For many years now I have seen that it is almost impossible not to follow it or to become affected by it. Recognizing the absurdity of human nature and accepting it is without a doubt the most liberating thing for any person. I am always reminded and told by everyone who recognizes it that it has absolutely changed and enhanced their life to a degree that all other avenues appear as useless.

    “I believe because it is absurd” Tertullian

    “The Son of God was crucified: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
    And the Son of God died: it is wholly credible, because it is unsuitable.
    And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible.”

    • I don’t believe that things are true because they are impossible. You ought to know how much I loathe irrationalism in all of its forms, including the deliberate cultivation of beliefs because of their irrationality and illogic (the Trinity springs to mind here). I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ because I accept the authority of scripture and the reject that the material world is all that there is. But that is a conscious and deliberate rejection, not an irrational and “impossible” one. I happen to agree with you that one cannot help but be affected by the sincerity of lives lived by others, but that effect is not always good. Sometimes we can be set free by truth from things we would rather have, but such is the price we must sometimes pay.

  10. Maybe it is his way of explaining faith?

    • I wouldn’t think so. Tertullian later in life became a heretic with a belief in irrational mysticism of a feminist variety, and that makes the quote you mentioned suspect, as it seems to reflect a deeply heretical approach. Now, it is possible that he could be referring to faith, but there are better ways of stating our faith than a belief in what is deliberately “impossible.” We ought not to be prisoners of rationalism, but God gave us both brains and hearts with the expectation that we would use them.

      • William says:

        John H. Leith – “. . . the nature of man is an intelligent being. Just because of intelligence the Christian, of all men, has to learn to discern with agonizing clarity what is conceivable by him about God Himself. What cannot be thought through critically and expressed with reasonable clarity cannot demand the allegiance of man’s whole being. Understanding is necessary for man’s full commitment. Hence faith must be spoken and made intelligible. That is not to say faith must be enclosed within the limits of reason, but it does mean that faith must never require neither the closing of the mind nor the sacrifice of the integrity of the mind.”

      • Indeed, William, that is very true, and that is the point I was making.

  11. What does the Bible say about contentment and what does it have to with this discussion?

    • I don’t necessarily think contentment has much of a point as far as the blog is concerned, which is dealing with a state of affairs after one has already committed serious sins of lust/greed/pride, and has engaged in the process of cover-up. The role of contentment is in preventing sin in the first place, as I briefly mentioned in the entry, by cultivating self-discipline and self-control. Obviously, if you control lust and greed and pride in the first place, your covetousness and envy are prevented from leading to sins that one would feel ashamed of and would want to cover up.

  12. “if you control lust and greed and pride in the first place,”

    The USA is a leading nation saturated (controled) with the seven deadly sins. As a matter of fact their economy is driven by them.

  13. So we can say that where there is no contentment there is opportunity for sin? In this we must recognize the role of the governments in that they must seek ways to establish a contented people but instead they have been for centuries promoting “the American Dream”

    • The things in the American dream aren’t the problem. Desiring to better one’s self, to acquire knowledge or honor or respect is not a problem. The problem is when those desires for good things become perverted into a desire for ever more increasing things and stuff that become the measure of a person’s worth. One can find sin in contentment, if one means by that a complacent attitude towards one’s sins and moral laxity, or a slothful failure to fulfill one’s moral responsibilities (one of the seven deadly sins itself). We cannot boil down sin to simply one problem; there are always corrupt pulls from both the right and the left. Greed just happens to be the pull from the right.

  14. So again it comes back to individual responsibility?

    • Indeed it does. Our duties to love God with all our heart and all our mind and all our spirit and to love our neighbor as ourselves, to live obediently and responsibly and to free others from their burdens, is a large part of what I talk about.

  15. This is exactly what i meant about dealing with people directly and in real time as events occur in the immediate and must be dealt with as such to recognize “that which true”. There are and have been millions of people “talking” about it but yet the situation apprears to be getting exponnentially worse every day. What is the dynamic missing here?

    • Talking about the problems of our world generally does not work very well because most of the time that talk is done by people who are not any better off, or because the solutions are so unpalatable. First, recognition of the problem is necessary by people themselves, and then a recognition of what can be done about it and the hope and faith to do what can be done. Unless both are present problems cannot get better.

  16. William says:

    Love rejoices in truth, that which can be articulated and precisely communicated and proven to be reality in the power of the Spirit. This love is a righteous love springs forth from God’s own nature, as He is love (though love is not God). God’s righteous love always abides in the parameter of His holiness which (His holiness) can in part can be revealed to those who seek Him line upon line and precept upon precept.

    Those who have indeed been pierced with conviction of their sins against His holiness and through brokenness and contrition have become benefactors of His mercies, have this love imparted to them because He first loved them and revealed to them their state of death and impoverishment of spirit. This imparted love springs forth out of earnest gratitude that God first loved them. Though in truth He judged them dead and impoverish, it was so He might allow His healing grace and mercy restore them if they would receive the truth of their state. It is through this love that God reasoned with the sinner that their sins though as scarlet, they could be made white as snow . . .

    But there is a deceitful “love” that counterfeits God’s love which is primarily sensual, or dependent upon “feeling” for confirmation of existence. It tends to ignore any truth beyond the feeling or perception of immediate relevance. It is the love which the Beatles sang of “All we need is love,” while ignoring that which can be known and must be sought out of the well spring of love, God Himself. I need not speak of the blindness of such folly as we know the road of such wisdom took them down the road to “imagine” there was no religion . . .

    Love is not the answer. At best it is only a witness to the answer, God’s grace, mercy and righteousness working in the heart of man, having fruit unto holiness and the end, everlasting life. To exalt ever love apart from God’s righteousness and holiness is to seduce the partakers of such love back into deceitfulness of sin . . . we shall not die as long as we love . . .

    Without faith it is impossible to please God, but like love it too can be counterfeited. But true faith-(fulness) which pleases God works by righteous love, not just love. It rejoices in truth and hates lies, it doesn’t cover them up. The love that saves men is only that which they received from the God of Truth and Love when they received a love for the truth that they might be saved. This is love is the heartbeat of true faith which is never governed by feelings, but stands solely upon the truth of what God has spoken, even when emotions and feelings are witnessing against it. It is called conviction and faith; these please God and save men, causing them to fear God, hate sin and to depart from every wicked work. Only then can true love be perfected so as not to be swayed by emotions because it abides in God’s truth and is governed by the God who imparted it through the revelation of His person and will in righteousness and holiness.

    God has no greater love than His children love the truth.

    Ps 51:6 Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

    3Jo 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

    • Indeed, but far too many people react the way that Pontius Pilate did when faced with Jesus Christ’s commitment to truth: “What is truth?” Perhaps they say it with a cynical glance, perhaps with a weary shrug, but they say it all the same, trying to distance themselves from the difficult obligations of the truth.

  17. Pingback: Love rejoices in truth . . . « Gates of the City

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