Limitations Schmimitations.

27Sep07

So this post is to address some of the limitations we face as humans in our pursuit of “The Truth”!

So often we find that people wish to live as Plato’s prisoners: within a lie that their senses provide them. To live with the deception that our senses convince us as truth.

I am reminded of this cartoon that came out in response to the film/ book by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth.
An Inconvienent Truth

Cartoon courtesy of http://www.cagle.com/

I am struck by the fact that although we often profess our desire to know the true, we often line up as obsequiously and complacently for a heaped serving of the lie. Why do we humans consistently do this?

Perhaps we are limited by our own very construct or nature that we are not capable to exist with the “Truth”? Perhaps there are other contributing factors to this phenomenon?

We’ve read a number of pieces that address our construct and understanding of our limitations with truth:

Ken Wilber’s chapter from A Brief History of Everything.

The article by Jon Gertner, The Futile Pursuit of Happiness .

And the Dalai Lama’s The Need For Discernment.

Consider how each of these authors might recommend we address or modify our search for truth. You may reference one or more of the authors and you may also refer to earlier reading within your comment.

PS– Should I remind you that I LOVE when you make connections to ideas you are encountering in your life?

PPS– here is a link to a fellow blogger who posted a short story about truth and branding in marketing…

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44 Responses to “Limitations Schmimitations.”

  1. 1 matticks

    In my opinion this question brings up a lot about your own personal life. It is asking how you deal with the traumatic events or drama in your life. For example: Do you choose to conquer every problem you face, or do you just let it slip away and forget about it? I think even if a person prides themselves on being ‘realistic’, they too hide from the truth sometimes. Maybe it comes down to that it is just the easy way out when something goes wrong in your life.

    “This is where our critical and imaginative powers come in. I have described these as two of our most precious resources, and suggested that possessing them is one of the things that distinguishes us from animals. We have seen how afflictive emotions destroys them. And we have seen how important they are in learning to deal with suffering” (The Dalai Lama,206).

    From this quote I get that our critical and imaginative powers are those that allow us to go and live a life of lies. Pain, stress, suffering, and other hardships are what cause us to live like this. Why? …Simply because it is just easier. Think back to the end of our senior year; a really stressful and emotional time, right? Was it easier to think about your new upcoming transition 24/7, or was it easier to go through your day with a smile on acting like the future would not affect anything? In my opinion situations like these are just easier to ignore until they really hit you. Some people may think that all of those built up emotions are really bad, but sometimes I think it is just easier to go on with life pretending everything is okay.

    In closing, I think the Dalai Lama would understand fears, ignorance, and repression. From his quote above he knows that humans can easily alter their emotions to ignore their problems. He sees it is a common thing in society to grasp to lies, and maybe that is just because it is the easy way out.

  2. 2 carpedi3m

    As one person, I can’t answer why other people avoid the truth, but I can answer for myself. I still walk this earth day to day with my eyes closed to the truth, but there are three factors in my own life, that have begun to open my eyes.

    All children have their eyes closed to the truth, but at thirteen my parents presented me a truth that shook my whole world. Since that moment I was truth hungry digging for information to subside the pain I felt. The information I was looking for, I eventually found imflaming the pain.

    For a long while after that I had shut my eyes to all sorts of day to day truths. I never wanted to feel pain again. Then my brother joined the army. When my brother deployed to Iraq, it was hard for family, but that was nothing until we knew what was going on over there. My brother is a medic in Iraq, and being very close he tells me alot that goes on over there. You cannot compare a doctor to my brother. When a doctor loses a patient, it is nothing as to what my brother feels losing a solider. Doctors do not eat, sleep, laugh, and fight with their patients. Americans go about their lives every single day; their biggest concern: WILL I GET TO WORK ON TIME? I HOPE I PAID THAT BILL. WHO’S MAKING DINNER TONIGHT? While all of this huge concerns are happening in the stressful life of citizens, their neighbors, husbands, cousins, and brothers are being shot at, wounded, and/or killed.

    Another shockin truth comes in this music video, I’m not saying everyone has to watch this because it is very tough to cope with….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UnsOJF-DFQ

    Again, I don’t know why people choose the heaping pile of lies, but I know why I do. This world is scary, and knowing the truth about the world and thinking about it all day breaks my heart. It’s so much easier to close your eyes to the world and accept the “ignorance is bliss” policy. I don’t think people should be completely foolish to the world, like the people in Plato’s The Cave. There should always be a balance of truth and lies, or good and evil and I think the person who displays this theory the best is the Dalai Lama.

    “The Need for Discernment” tells the audience that in the practice of self-disicpline you learn the postive and negative hues that effects your family, life, work. With this advice I think that people could open their eyes more and learn to accept the truth, and save the heaping pile of lies for a rainy day.

  3. 3 bboscamp

    I agree with what “matticks” stated when she posted the question about what people do when they are faced with a problem. A lot of the time, people hide from the truth because it is easier than facing the truth.

    The Dalai Lama says that, “Conversely whatever hardship it entails, disciplining our response to negative thoughts and emotions will cause us fewer problems in the long run than indulging in acts of selfishness.” What I got out of this quote was that when you do not tell the truth, it may make you happier than knowing the actual truth. “…just as I desire to be happy and to avoid suffering, so do all others.” Does this mean that our happiness has to be based on lies?

    I agree with “matticks” again when she said that not telling the truth is just considered an easy way out. I have realized that people tend to hide the truth because they feel like they are protecting someone or something. In reality, are you really protecting anyone or just hurting them more?

  4. 4 delgrosso

    I agree with “matticks” when she stated that “even if a person prides themselves on being ‘realisitic’, they too hide from the truth sometimes”. The “inconvenient truth” seems to be less appealing to people than the “reassuring lie” because the truth at times takes us out of our comfort zones and puts us in unknown precincts. These lies are what people want to hear; they instantly relieve the uncertainties we may have whereas the truth may do the opposite and immediately bring aggravation and worsen the situation bringing us elsewhere to uncommon ground. Most of us can relate to the situation where a friend disappoints us or leaves us hurting and promises never to do that again. Well – we believe the lie even though deep down we know that people don’t change unless they want to and a week later our friend pulls the same act again. Being our nature we believed the lie because it was comforting and it was easier to think about our friend changing, than hurting us again.

    In reality the lies actually are what hurt us whereas the truth can resolve problematic issues. If we keep hiding and running from the truth, before we know it the lies have dug ourselves a grave and it is now far too hard to get out. We as humans seek instant gratification and because these lies seem to be soothing and more acceptable than the truth at first, we run from this and only acknowledge the comforting lies.

    “I might lie to myself. I might try to conceal aspects of my own depth from myself. I might do this intentionally or I might do this ‘unconsciously’. But one way or another, I might misinterpret my own depth, I might lie about my own interior” (Ken Wilber, 151). We may lie about our own interior because we seek instantaneous satisfaction and these lies settle and please us more than the negative truth would. For me when I realize a relationship is no longer what it used to be it is much easier to live the relationship out and lie to myself hoping it will return to its original mold than realize that the truth is what it is. Instant gratification allows me to lie to myself unconsciously because I feel more comfortable taking the easy way out and not creating uproar than acknowledging the cumbersome truth.

    Ken Wilber understands that simultaneous satisfaction is a major part of being human and that believe lies instead of truths seems to be the easy way out. “Because I lie to myself – and then forget it is a lie – then I will lie to you without even knowing it” (Ken Wilber, 152). He also understands that lies become so easily acceptable by everyone that we run from the truth not even knowing that what we believe are lies. These lies we believe, sadly enough, comfort us in a way that truth doesn’t.

  5. 5 betyeman

    I believe that people want to know the truth and want to be truthful, but sometimes it is easier for them to either lie or deny it. People most of the time will look toward what is “convenient” before they will put more effort into deciding what is the truth. Also people will lie to hide certain things in order to make them self look better or to cover up some part of there life that effects there emotions.

  6. 6 dpinkston

    Truth is about perception, and what we perceive to be real. Most of what we know comes from what we ourselves see, hear and feel. The ostrich is a perfect example of how we hide ourselves as a defense mechanism. When an ostrich is in danger, it buries it’s head under the ground as a means to escape. Humans will “bury their heads” behind those “reassuring lies” to promote a general happiness. If we convince ourselves that nothing bad can happen, we can live contently and forget about the troubles of the world. On the whole, people are inclined to take the easy way out of situations that are displeasing. Ken Wilber shows this in the quote “Because I lie to myself – and then forget it is a lie – then I will lie to you without even knowing it.” We convince ourselves that things are ok and will talk about these things naturally.

  7. 7 jenncook

    First of all, I’d like to say that I like that cartoon! It’s a comical way to say something that I agree with. Wouldn’t everyone rather hear things that are maybe untrue but more “pleasant” than hear a truth that they would be upset with? I know I think that way sometimes! I think people sometimes would rather avoid the truth because they know if might cause conflict; I don’t know many people who go looking for conflicts everywhere.

    I also know from personal experience, however, that as much as you may try to ignore the truth, it has a tendency to come back and haunt you and eventually you will have to face it. I realized this when I learned something new about someone close to me and I was very uncomfortable with it at first and carried it around inside of me for months without talking to anyone about it. Eventually it got to be too heavy a weight to continue carrying around and I had to talk to other people for advice and eventually that person as well. I would like to also use the same quote from Ken Wilbur (page 151) that “delgrosso” used. People can lie to themselves, thinking it will bring them happiness, but they can misinterpret their own depth and be disappointed that the lie won’t satisfy them as much as they thought; that’s exactly how I felt in that particular situation.
    I think sometimes accepting lies for happiness could be necessary. Some people can’t handle the truth all the time because they aren’t as strong as others. Other times, and I think more often, it is necessary to hear the truth, even if it may help. I think hearing hurtful truths could help; if not immediately, then later on in life. I also agree with “carpedi3m” when they said that people should learn to accept the truth.

  8. 8 ericakulp

    i agree with bboscamp when they state that “telling the truth is an easy way out.” Many people lie because it is easier than hurting someone. However it is common knowledge that once you tell one lie, you usually need to tell another one to cover up the other lie. This can be very problematic because you can go from telling one simple lie to letting all your lies escalde into greater more consequential lies that can really hurt others. As the Dalai Lama states in The need for Discernment, “If we do not take responsibility for our motives whether positive or negative, the potential for harm is much greater”(211) . I agree with what the Dalai Lama says because if you do not take respoinsibilty for your wrong doings at first, you can hurt yourself or others much worse in the long run. No matter if the situation is positive or negative, you need to accept what is going on in any situation. Also, telling a lie can eat at you and cause you so much guilt. Knowing that you have something hanging over your head can add extra stress to an everyday activity. In my opinion, the truth is always bound to come out and if you just tell the truth in the beginning, the outcome will not be as bad.

    This prompt reminds me of a time when i was in fifth grade and i got a 75 of my math test. The previous night my parents had a talk with me that if i did not take school seriously, i could no longer play soccer. So when i recieved that low grade and realized that my parents needed to sign it, I took the matter into my own hands and signed it myself. Remember that i was only in fifth grade and there was no way my cursive looked anything like my mothers signature. That same day my teacher called me out of class, handed me a photocopy of my forged test, and told me that she was aware of my forgery and that i needed to get it signed this time by my ACTUAL parents. I was so afraid to go home and show my mother how i LIED and tried to pull off her signature that i still hid it from her. Days and days went by that i would try and work my way into telling her but then stop knowing that she would be so disappointed. Finally one day before school, i showed her the paper with my terrible excuse of a signature and ironically she all ready knew. To my suprise, my teacher had called home the day of the incident and had allready spoken to my mom. My mother was proud that i finally told her that i lied and went pretty easy on me with the punishment. she said i had punished myself enough and from that day on i have learned that lying gets you nothing but a conscience full of guilt.

  9. 9 dancingrl425

    “I cannot be truthful with myself because that would involve such great pain” (Wilber 152). I think Wilber’s essay successfully proves the point that it is always easier to lie to yourself, rather than causing personal pain. This is why I agree when Matticks said “Maybe it comes down to that it is just the easy way out when something goes wrong in your life.”

    Last year around the end of June my school was finding bomb threats posted on the walls continuously. The authorities assured us it was just a bad attempt to have school cancelled and that the only reason we were forced to go through metal detectors each day was to be safe, not sorry. Although I agreed with them I also had this gnawing doubt nestled in the back of my mind. I had heard that the person who killed people at Virginia Teach had posted something on Myspace previous to his actions. What if this was similar to that tragedy? Every day I told myself nothing would happen. I actually became a pro at believing these lies. If I had faced the fact that each day I went to school there was the possibility I might blow up I think I wouldn’t have been able to learn anything and I might have had a mental breakdown.

    This experience causes me to believe that lying to yourself about something you can’t control is alright as long as it doesn’t cause harm to you physically. Why would you want to cause harm to yourself mentally anyway? I don’t see the point.

  10. 10 srosato

    With all of the hate, crime and war that embodies today’s world, it is simpler to tune it all out and pretend that everything is going to be okay. Just like carpedi3m stated in her post, it is a lot easier to close your eyes to the world and accept the “ignorance is bliss” policy. What this policy expresses is the need for people to build up a world of lies as a way to cope with their surroundings and to protect them from any hurt or distress that might be inflicted on them.

    I personally have passed up the convenient truth for a reassuring lie and therefore, can relate my particular experience to delgrosso’s concept that was stated in her post. Delgrosso talked about how we all have that one friend/group of friends who constantly hurt us, but promise that they will change. After a while, we feed into these promises and lies until we can no longer pretend that everything is okay. I had a best friend who grew up with me and until about a year ago, we started to put distance in between ourselves. As a result of this distance, she began to change and then she did certain things that really hurt me. At first I went straight for a reassuring lie, convincing my self that she will go back to the same person that I’ve known for years. But lately I’ve realized that this lie is just tearing me apart and I have to accept the inconvenient truth, which is that she will never change back to the girl I used to know.

    “I cannot be truthful with myself because that would involve such great pain…so I would rather lie about the whole thing” (Wilbur 152). Just as I said before, we knowingly lie to ourselves as a way to ensure that we will never get hurt. But aren’t we indirectly hurting ourselves by not admitting the truth? Are we forever keeping ourselves trapped in a lie? According to Wilbur, we often lie to ourselves, forget that we lied and then we lie without even knowing that it is not the truth. We basically convince ourselves that something that was previously true is now a lie that we believe is the actual truth. So, Wilbur is trying to express that we all lead unstable/unrealistic lives that are not only based on lies, but are meant to comfort us and protect us from the outside world. But eventually, these lies will reveal their underlying meanings, these protective bubbles will pop, and we will have to face the truth that we so eagerly tried to repress.

  11. 11 fetzer

    In my opinion, one of the hardest things for people to do is to always tell the truth. Sometimes, telling the truth can lead to bad news that they would rather not believe, or want others to believe. As the saying goes, “the truth hurts.”

    While I was reading others’ blogs, I liked when delgrosso referred to one of Ken Wilbur’s quotes. Wilbur stated, “I might lie to myself. I might try to conceal aspects of my own depth from myself. I might do this intentionally or I might do this ‘unconsciously’. But one way or another, I might misinterpret my own depth; I might lie about my own interior.” This means that people will lie to themselves in order hide from reality, and in time they will feel that the lie is actually the truth.
    This quotation reminds me of when my grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes. She was very embarrassed about this, and did not want others to know she had it. So instead of telling others she had diabetes, she chose to lie and deny it. She swears the doctors are lying to her, eats things she is not supposed to be eating, and then suffers the side effects such as swollen ankles, high blood pressure, and poor blood circulation. Although all these symptoms occur, she refuses to believe she has diabetes, and tries to convince herself and everyone around her that she does not have it. Even though she is getting pills from the doctor, she acts as if she doesn’t understand why. She does this to avoid facing the truth, and has lied to herself so much that, in her mind, she now believes she is not a diabetic.

    All in all, telling a lie makes some people believe what they wish was the truth, which ultimately makes them feel better about themselves. These people feel that by lying, it will relieve the pain of knowing and remembering what the truth really is.

  12. 12 evancho

    There are many times during our lives that we would truth rather, “hear the “reassuring lie” than the “painful truth””. We do not want to know what people truly think of us. If a person was to say what they really and truly thought of you, you would most likely be angered. This would lead to an argument or it could even lead to the end of friendship. Most people feel like they have to try to hide how they really feel and are not able to tell everyone how they really feel.

  13. 13 jillian12

    i feel that I agree with both matticks and carpedi3m. It is easier to accept “a reassuring lie” because sometimes the truth is harder to accept. If the “reassuring lie” makes you feel more comfortable than “the inconvenient truth” of course thats what you want to believe. No one wants to be taken out of their comfort zone, or potentially hurt someone by telling them the truth. Sometimes I feel like I am protecting my close friends or family, if I don’t tell them the truth about something that has happened in my life. I have learned to realize though, by telling them the truth, yea they may be upset for a while, but they will eventually get over it and continue on loving me.

    The Dalai Lama says,”Whatever immediate advantage is gained at the expense of someone else is necessarily only temporary. In the long run, causing others hurt and disturbing their peace and happiness causes us anxiety.” I feel like the Dalai Lama is referring to “a reassuring lie” in this quote. If something you have done or said will cause someone else hurt you will try not to tell them about it because I know for myself I never want to hurt the people I love or anyone for that matter. All in all believing “a reassuring lie” is just more convenient for us. Why would you want to know what will only upset you.

  14. 14 babyblue2842

    Truth is something that is difficult to pin point, it always has been. Part of that is because the only person that can decide what truth is, if someone is telling the truth, even if you are telling the truth, is yourself. I agree with carpedi3m when they say, “I don’t know why people choose the heaping pile of lies, but I know why I do.” Sometimes it is easier to follow everyone else because you’re not sure. Like in the cartoon, I’m sure that not everyone in that line wants to be there, but they are because everyone else is. Because if everyone is told the same lie, who’s going to argue that it is in face a lie?
    I thought that ericakulp brought up a good point when they said that some people believe it is better to tell a lie than to hurt someone. This is a good point to bring up because what makes you think that the truth is going to hurt them? You don’t know if it will or if it won’t so what gives you the right to decide it’s better to lie? I believe that people say they lie to keep people from getting hurt because they know if they tell the truth, their relationship with that person will be over and they don’t want that. They think about themselves more than the other person and just try and play it off like they care. For example, if someone were cheating on their significant other, they would say that they don’t want to tell them because it will hurt them and that they do truly love them and would never want to hurt them. In my opinion that’s a bunch of BS, they don’t want to tell the truth because they know if they do they are going to get in big trouble.
    Truth is a tricky thing. I believe that we will never really know why people lie, or when people tell the truth.

  15. 15 walush

    I agree with carpedi3m. They said, “I don’t know why people choose the heaping pile of lies, but I know why I do.” Hearing the truth, especially is today’s soceity, is a scary thing. There are problems happening all around us and the real truth is that people don’t want to get hurt. The truth is not always the best thing because you can get hurt by it. But I think that the truth needs to be said. A lot of times, I hide from the truth. My grandmother, in August 2006, went into the hospital one night at 11:20pm. My parents didn’t want to tell me the truth when they called to wake me up. But they did and I convinced myself that it was a lie. That was the day my grandmother passed away. When that happened, I realized that I was being told the truth but I ignore it. From that point on, I always want to know the truth about things. Many people want to hear the “reassuring lie” but I think it’s time that we start hearing the “inconvenient truth.”

  16. 16 samanthasutton

    I really like this whole ‘blog thing’! I like reading everyone’s comments and stories and seeing who I agree with or disagree with. For the most part, in this blog, I agree with practically everyone and the authors of the pieces when they say that the “reassuring lie” is easier to accept than the “inconvenient truth”. We all have that thing in our life that we know could be a lie but we just choose to live a lie rather than to live the truth. A lie is safe and the truth is questionable, not to mention a whole lot scarier. There are plenty of times I’ve chosen to live a lie rather than live the truth. There are also plenty of times I’ve told a lie rather than telling the truth to protect both others and myself. For example: My mom is pretty strict. She tells me all the time how glad she is that I’m not like most of the kids my age and how proud she is that I’m so ‘good’. The truth is, I’m probably not as ‘good’ as she’d like to think but I’ll never tell her that just because I’m afraid of how she’ll think of me after I tell her. Sometimes, though, when I talk with her and she tells me how ‘good’ I am, I almost believe her. I really begin to think I’m practically a saint – even thought I’m not – just because she tells me I am over and over. I believe this is a good thing though, because when I’m about to do something I know she wouldn’t approve of, I think about her and her view of me and half the time I don’t continue. So that “reassuring lie” works out for the both of us in a positive way.

  17. 17 pdarms

    I also agree with carpedi3m. For some reason, people have chosen “reassuring lies” over “an inconvenient truth.” It has been this way for as long as I can remember. I’m not exactly sure why this is true, but I know that this only goes so far. There are certain circumstances when people will do anything to do to find the truth, usually in regards to their own personal safety. For example, if a certain type of product is unsafe, people will not buy it. The only thing I can think of is that, many times, the truth becomes so distorted and unclear that people begin to look elsewhere for answers. If they like the answers they find, they’ll be content with it. As a whole, people will ultimately settle with whatever makes them happiest, no matter what it is. If there were to be some source that suddenly make the war in Iraq look a lot more victorious for the U.S., then I am positive that Americans would believe it, no matter what other evidence there is against it. In all honesty, “an inconvenient truth” is better than “a reassuring lie,” but people simply don’t seem to care.

  18. 18 krissssy

    I love dpinkston’s explanation of the ostrich burying his head as a defense mechanism. I agree that people do the same thing to hide ourselves from the inconvenient truth. I buried my head from the truth that I wasn’t doing very good in a math class I had in high school. I would just ignore the problem and I made myself believe I was doing fine. I didn’t go for extra help because I didn’t want to think of myself as a failure and admit to not understanding the material on my own. At the end of the marking period I was in shock to find out that I received a failing grade because I made myself believe I was doing well. From this experience I learned that I need to except my flaws in school and do everything I can to be a successful student.

  19. 19 samanthagallo

    I think we would rather live the lie, then face the truth. We are content with our lives and anything that stirs this up scares us. Change, involving the truth, makes us nervous. The majority of our society don’t show who they really are, twenty four-seven. We put on an act for some aspects of our lives. And while we do this we hope no one notices. We don’t want them to see the real us, the true us. This is how our society works. We hide the true, because of fear and acceptance. We want to accept that everything is ok in our world, so we ignore the idea of global warming, and poverty. We don’t want to face the troubles that face our world. We live in bubbles to protect us from the truth. The Dalai Lama talks about how we are “…constantly checking our outlook and asking ourselves whether we are being broad-minded or narrowed-minded.”(207). And then he goes on to say that if we do open our minds, we only open it to family and friends. We hardly ever open our minds and views to people around us we don’t know. So what we do is just trust our inner circle and no one else, which is also a way of avoiding the truth.

  20. 20 robyn123

    I agree with betyeman, “people want to know the truth and want to be truthful, but sometimes it is easier for them to either lie or deny it.” The truth can be hurtful and painful at times, it may just seem easier to lie. A white lie has been used to prevent hurting someone’s feelings or damaging a relationship. However, it is still better to tell the truth because a lie, no matter how small it may be can destroy one’s trust. I once babysat for a seven year old boy who recently discovered that Santa Clause was not real. Someone at school informed him that his parents were the ones eating the cookies he would for Santa. His parents tried to convince him still that Santa was real but he just got angry since they lied to him. While I was watching him, he started asking me if the Easter bunny was fake too, but I was unsure how to answer him. I didn’t want to lie to him but I also felt that I was not the right person to tell him the truth.

    I also agree with dpinkston about truth being one’s own perception. While reading The Historian and His Facts I realized how similar deciding what the truth is to what is a historical fact. “The belief in a hard core historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which it is very hard to eradicate” (632-633). Since I was not there when the historic event took place I am forced to rely on others’ knowledge which may or may not be true. Like a fact, the truth is what we perceive it to be. When I am not sure whether something is the true, a fact I would research the information and try to find similar stated data in different resources.

  21. 21 jral27

    I do not think that choosing to believe a lie is as harmful as passing along a lie to others. For example, if someone chooses to believe something that isn’t entirely true, the only person who is being hurt is the one who accepts the lie as truth. However, if you tell the lie, you are not only hurting yourself and lying to yourself, but you are harming others who accept your false statements as truth. This is evident in our daily lives in school and in the case of politics. In school, teachers have an enormous amount of influence on the minds of students. They give to us information in class, we write it down, embed it into our brains and accept it as being right, or being true. However, as Palmer states, the education in our society is set up in the form of “mythical objectivism”. With this structure there will always be lies because the subject is being perceived through one viewpoint and that perception is being relayed to students who are believing what they are told.

    In the case of politics I believe the government may not be lying to us, but I think that there are times when they do not tell the public the whole truth. They feel its necessary so that we will not panic or feel afraid. I believe there are times when this is the right course to take, but I cant help but feel that I think the people deserve to know the truth. But this is an issue we all face. Do we tell someone a lie to protect them, or do we tell them the truth which usually goes hand in hand with pain?

  22. 22 chelxc

    I believe that humans choose to know a “reassuring lie” as opposed to an “inconvenient truth” because it protects them from being hurt. Many times in school and running if I receive a low grade or don’t run well, I make up external excuses for myself, such as, we didn’t learn all the information on the test, or it was windy so I ran slower today. I consider these excuses “reassuring lies” because they are used to make myself feel better about what happened even though it is my own fault. Obviously, if other students in the class do well on the test, it wasn’t information that wasn’t learned. Also, if it was windy in the race, it would have affected every racer the same, not just me.

    As the Dalai Lama stated, “We must use our intelligence to judge which course of action will be least harmful in the long run.” Then he continued with the situation in which one witnesses a crime and when questioned about the escaping fugitive, one comes up with something appropriate to say, “weighing the benefits of telling a lie or telling the truth and do what we judge to be least harmful overall.” Humans’ number one priority is to do things that are pleasing to themselves. If a piece of information interrupts the way they want things to be, they will make up “reassuring lies” to comfort themselves. Learning to accept these “inconvenient truths” can help an individual learn to overcome problems and learn from their mistakes.

  23. 23 scastles

    Any “inconvenient truth” is clearly more difficult to accept than the “reassuring lie” because the desire for assurance and convenience are both part of human nature. Just take a look at all of the quick fix infomercials that we easily fall into (fad diets, faulty exercise programs, etc.). We are guaranteed that the product will work in a certain amount of time, and believe that this is the answer to all of our problems. However, quick fixes rarely work effectively, and most of us are aware of this, but still want to believe that it will work “just this time”. Even in more serious circumstances, it is much easier to live in a utopian world, like Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave, than in a world of pure, raw truth. I believe that we should live somewhere in the middle that allows for people to abide by the “ignorance is bliss” policy, mentioned earlier, and by the truth in certain situations. The concept of protecting yourself from harm with the “ignorance is bliss” policy is captured in Wilbur’s “Attuned to the Kosmos”: “I cannot be truthful with myself because that would involve such great pain…so I would rather lie about the whole thing” (152). However, this is an unrealistic living. We must except the real world and the truth for what it is and protect ourselves from what will harm us or the ones around us.

  24. 24 possessky

    I agree with scastles statement of “the desire for assurnce and conenience are both part of human nature”. People, as much as they say it is untrue, love to be blinded by lies. They would rather be protected. By blinding themselves with lies they can avoid the horrors of the truth. As one example you can use someone that has just been diagnosed with a horrible disease. At first, they try to pretend they don’t have it and act like they are perfectly fine. Who wants to find out they have something horrible that they can’t get rid of. But in these cases it can make things worse for the person. By covering up the truth they can make the actual situation they are in worse. Ignorance IS bliss until reality hits you and your forced to deal with it. As much as we want people to accept reality, they never will. People want to always be happy, believing everything is ok. Even though the truth can be hard to deal with, we know that it is real. It is something we can hold on to and trust that it wil not fall apart. I know I can take the pain and that in the end it will make me stronger. Lies can leave me unprepared for the truth and by the time it hits me, I won’t be mentally prepared enough to deal with it. Reality is something I would chose to believe in and follow. Unfortunately I know I’ll end up following the rest of the world. I will end up falling for the lies and avoiding the “inconvenient” truth.

  25. 25 vecere

    I believe that “reassuring lies” are a necessary part of everyday life that will help to keep us sane during period of our existence. They help us to pursue our overall goal of happiness. Without these “lies” life could often seem somewhat bleak and meaningless (especially for those who do not believe in an afterlife). While I would rather be informed of the truth, I do not always require truth that is both unbeneficial and irrelevant to my short term existence. I am a curios person and will often seek truths that will do more than inconvenience me. After learning truths, I will occasionally believe that I would be better off not ever having the information brought up. I will continue to seek the truth when a topic is presented to me, however there will be information that I will wish had never been made privy to me.

  26. 26 jhuereca

    The quote that delgrosso stated earlier by Ken Wilber in A Brief History Of Everything, explains alot about what what we are talking about.

    “I might lie to myself. I might try to conceal aspects of my own depth from myself. I might do this intentionally or I might do this ‘unconsciously’. But one way or another, I might misinterpret my own depth, I might lie about my own interior”

    The Truth is a very scary thing to almost everyone. We always want to hear something good and “sugar coated” and not something that would ruin our day. We don’t even want to know if something has gone wrong at all. If something bad has happened, we usually want people to either lie to us or just stretch the truth.

    With the little cartoon up top, it may seem funny and some people might blow it off, but that’s what’s happening in realy life. We would all be first in line to hear a lie rather than an inconvient truth. I, for sure, don’t like hearing anything bad about anything and I always look on the bright side, But hearing the inconvient truth does bring my spirit down sometimes. That is why alot of people, including myself, would rather have a reassuring lie.

    Chelxc stated above a quote from the Dalai Lama, in his essay, The Need for Discernment “We must use our intelligence to judge which course of action will be least harmful in the long run.” The one thing we as humans always do is try to watch out for ourselves and make sure we are happy in the long run. Finding a way to get hurt the least with a truth of any kind. It is a struggle that we are all trying to overcome, but if it makes us feel good about our lives in the end, it doesn’t seem so bad.

  27. 27 kelly4

    I agree with dpinkston. The truth is all about perception and how you percieve it. I can relate this to my own life, countless times I’ve been in a situation where I can’t tell which sibling, or friend is being truthful. Most of the time it’s over something stupid, like who took my car keys or something insignificant. I usually decide who I think did it and believe that to be the truth, when really, it could be the other person. Which shows truth is all about perception. If you think about it, our entire world is based on truth, who is telling it, and who isn’t. There are countless talk shows and soap operas that just deal with who is being truthful. I really like this quote from the Dali Lama “If we do not take responsibility for our motives whether positive or negative, the potential for harm is much greater”(211). He’s basically saying if we don’t tell the truth in the beginning, it’s more than likely just going to get worse.

  28. 28 itsmiseo

    In our culture, we have a preconceived notion that material possessions will provide us with eternal happiness and pleasure; however this is the root of our problems as a nation. We lie to ourselves constantly every day, making it very difficult to find a day-to-day truth. Throughout Gertner’s The Futile Pursuit of Happiness, he refers back to how we predict what we believe will make us happy in the future. But how do we truly know?

    One of my favorite parts of his article is when he quotes the Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want.” He immediately adds, “I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is you can’t always know what you want.”

    This statement, I believe, is totally true. How do we know that a certain car is going make you happy? What if it breaks down? Are you happy now? Along with this idea, Gertner uses George Lowenstein’s idea of how we regulate ourselves. We make unordinary things ordinary, thus taking the pleasure, or happiness, out of it. I realized this as many people don’t as they go shopping for their first car.

    You want the best car, the one that is flashy or hot; the one that people are going to be talking about at school, but it doesn’t really matter. We get accustomed to it after a month or so, proving a truth that we lie to ourselves, trying to find happiness. This inconvenient truth saved me a lot of stress and the UNhappiness later on. As long as we choose to accept the inconvenient truth over the lie, happiness doesn’t seem so far away.

  29. 29 paonej

    In todays world truth and lies and so hard to differ at times. Their are so many people out there that live a life of lives such as adults having affairs, criminals lieing at court, and a great amout of rumors. Due to the lies in our world it is so hard to differ between truth and lies because people have become to accustom to lieing and in a way is has become part of our society. It seems that it has become part of our nature to lie for no apparent reasons. Sometimes it is to brag about ones belongings, or to cover up embarrassing facts that some would want to be consealed. Having a good reason to lie or not does not matter. If everyone stuck to the truth our world and society would be much better and people would gain more respect for one another.

  30. 30 vpomparelli

    As humans, we all tend to turn away from truth because it’s scary. The truth in a lot of situations can alter a persons’ entire life.
    I read a book for sociology recently entitled “Ishmael”. Ishmael is a gorilla who speaks to this man telepathically in hopes to change the destructive path that we as humans sent the world on. Ishmael tells the unnamed man that humans are so suseptable to the lies that our culture tells us. He says that the story of creation and evolution and religion is all based on a myth that was told to us as children.
    “No creation story is a myth to the people who tell it. It’s just the story.” – (Quinn p.52)
    People all say they want the truth but most everyone cannot handle it. They’d have to reach deep into themselves to actually find it, then they’d have to face it. Knowing the truth and facing the truth are completely different things entirely.

  31. 31 vpomparelli

    It all starts when we are kids, our parents are constantly “sugar coating” things as jhuereca says. Therefore, as children we are never faced with cold hard truths. We are also taught that money=happiness. Or atleast it seems that way to a child who wants pretty much anything and everything they see. In the Futile Pursuit of Happiness, Jon Gertner, writes that material possession becomes a source of happiness. That is something I completely believe but want to change. It’s so hard to stop years and years of this thought process, but I know in my life that’s something I’d like to stray away from.

    The truth, in conclusion, is something that is constantly changing with each new bit of experience we get, insight we gain and our acceptance level. We are all scared of the truth in one way or another. This may just be how we live for the rest of our lives. We may just end up destroying the world in our neglect to the inevitable truth that we are slowly killing our earth by not recognizing the clear signs and warnings. Almost all of us are blind to things that do not directly effect us. We want others to fix it and we’ll probably continue this way until the destruction is already in effect.

  32. 32 pennello

    I completely agree with both matticks and ericakulp. There are various problems when truth comes in play. We as, humans do like to hide from the truth because it is hurtful, but in reality we are hurting ourselves even more by excepting lies rather than the truth. Ken Wilbur made a great point in his paper Attuned to the Kosmos. He talks about how truth is affected by what we believe and when we believe something that is a lie is the truth and we fully believe it, we can convince others that it is the truth as well. This ultimately ruins many people because we are made to beleive lies. Lies are not the easy way out, they destroy everything. It is much easier to tell the truth and this is coming from a first hand experience. This summer I through a huge party at a relative’s house that I was watching for them. Some things wound up getting broken and I had to lie about what happened. After a while my lies became confusing and I got caught in my lies. In the end, they said they would not have been as mad at me if I had told the truth in the first place. My little lies built up into bigger ones which completely spun out of control, getting me caught. What I really do not understand is that we, as humans, are naturally attracted to lies. We would rather hear a lie about what is happening then the truth which is less attractive. And, when we have to make a choice between telling the truth and a lie, we lie. I do not get that even when we know that lying is wrong and that it mainly ends badly, we still continue to do it and listen to it.

  33. 33 shawt

    I also agree with the quote that delgrosso stated earlier by Ken Wilber in A Brief History Of Everything.
    ~“I might lie to myself. I might try to conceal aspects of my own depth from myself. I might do this intentionally or I might do this ‘unconsciously’. But one way or another, I might misinterpret my own depth, I might lie about my own interior”

    I lie to myself all the time. I do this to cover up how I feel deep inside. On one particular day my mother told me the my grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia. I didn’t want to believe it at all. I just didn’t understand how this could happen to “MY” Poppi. I didn’t understand why something so bad could happen to such a great, comical, teddy bear of a man. I was in denial, I didn’t want to face the reality of my grandpa being sick and suffering. My mother would try to have a conversation about what was going on with him, but I would always just change the conversation. She would sit me down and say,”Tabby poppi is sick he has a leukemia, you need to understand this. You have to be prepared to expect the worse.” But I couldn’t do this i just couldn’t except the fact that he was ill. At this time my sweet 16 was coming up. I said to my mom, grandpa will be fine he can come, little did I know I canceled my party 5 times. He was so sick from his chemo treatments. The day of my party my poppi looked 10 years older, I was so scared. I told him he looked great and he would be ok, but i was lying to myself and so was he. We both knew he was exhausted and wasn’t going be “ok.” He tried to get up and dance with my mother and I sat there with my friends and watched, I sobbed my eyes out. It was literally, “IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TOO!” Right then and there I knew I needed to realize how sick he was, and I knew I had to stop lying to myself.

    From that day on I knew it was definitely easier to accept the reassuring lie, rather than the inconvenient truth. I feel though it’s just not me who feels this way. I feel like everyone is afraid to face the music, it’s in our blood.

  34. 34 w8ting4science

    We’ve all had that quote about the “truth hurting” thrown at us a million billion times, and it’s always because some person is trying to make us feel bad about accepting the truth in the first place. But honestly, have we ever stopped to think about what is really being said when we’re told “the truth hurts?” Often times it’s used in a more social manner referring to a relationship with someone or something having to do with your friends, but it applies to everything in life. In Al Gore’s example of global warming, people are upset and want the truth from the scientists about what is really going on, but don’t want to accept it because that means that we would all have to start doing something different and admitting that we screwed up.

    Humans in general have a difficult time admitting to things being their fault, so we deny everything and move on with our lying lives. We have trouble admitting our flaws, and our bad behavior, and we therefore lie to hide things that are wrong with us, whether it’s a simple thing like lying in a relationship to hide that you’re a cheater, or something on a larger scale like lying in court to hide from yourself that you did something wrong. We like to be “perfect” and we like society to view us as perfect, even though we all know we’re not. In my own personal life, I try really hard not to lie, because I don’t like hiding things from myself. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how are you going to get by in a society where “yourself” is becoming more and more your only “true friend”. When I run into obstacles in my life, I try and deal with them instead of running from them, because all too often I have to learn the hard way that running from problems never solves anything, problems just pile up one after another.

  35. 35 vpec13

    i think that alot of people are not able to handle the truth, or as it says, “Perhaps we are limited by our own very construct or nature that we are not capable to exist with the “Truth”. So, as a factor of not being able to handle the truth, people use lies to cover up for it. these lies get spread to each other in many forms, such as T.V., Internet, news paper, and it causes a snow ball affect. but somtimes saying a lie isnt a bad thing. For example, hiding someone in your attic during WW II and lying to the Germans about that is not really a bad thing. but a lie can cause much chaos as well, such as saying oh theres a hurricane coming, this can and most likely will get spread to many people, maybe even making its wsay to the headlines. this could cause a lot of chaos. also, today in soceity, no one wants to be the bad guy, so people tell lies to cover themsleves. A good example of this, is during the Salem Witch Trials when someone was charge of being a witch, they would push the blame on someone else, saying oh they did it to that person not me, and people would do it just to save themselves. Overall are lies ulitmatley bad? or good? it very much depends on the situation and what the “lie” or the “truth” is based or involved with.

  36. 36 joneslaur

    I think vpomparelli made a great point! A point rarely brought up in alluding to the point that our perception of truth and how it changes as we get older. I wonder how a child who’s always been told that Santa Clause exists perceives the truth verses the perception a child who has been told he was a fictional character. Can a child feel betrayed? Or do they just accept it? Doesn’t it matter on the age? I would think age would be a major factor not just because of maturity but because of experience. As we get older, we tend to deepen our desire grow and analyze. However, many will limit themselves in what the attempt to find in their search for truth, because the fear what may be discovered. They fear betrayal.

    A child who may suspect Santa Clause exists, yet, may not do anything about their suspicion, due to fear of their suspicion being correct because this would then cause them to place blame on their parents for “betraying” them. In a similar manor, a wife may suspect infidelity, but may avoid doing anything about it, for fear of her suspicions being correct. However in both cases, with time, the truth is forced to be revealed probably because of maturing, and gaining wisdom. Even after the fact, because of fear, the “victim” may contort the truth to protect their feelings of betrayal.

  37. 37 miamiace

    I agree with dpinkston on the fact that we ourselves perceive what we see, hear, and feel to be true. We take what we are told by others and take it in as the truth. Usually we believe the opinions of the older generation say our parents for example to give us insight on our daily lives. Without a thought we take in what they told us and use it believing in whatever it was they said. We try to bend the truth when it comes to personal affairs because we are afraid if we tell the truth to that certain person it could only bring bad results. So we hesitate our decision making and tell a little white lie thinking that there’s nothing wrong with it in the end. In our society in this day and age we tend to have a difficult time admitting our flaws and being trust worthy. Besides that we try to be loyal to our peers, but in the end we always let out that one thing we shouldn’t. Makes you think if human beings can actually tell the truth and the whole truth not just bending what you heard from some other source. Tell the truth will certainly set you free and you can sleep with a clean conscious.

  38. 38 jellybeanqueen620

    Many times what we say contradicts what we do or what we feel. In this situation, I suppose it comes down to what we are taught versus what we feel. It is a matter of head against heart. The “truth” is shown to us as a force of good, and for most of our lives we are taught to seek out truth and value honesty. However, many times the truth can be hurtful and cause us great pain. After seeking out truth and repeatedly struggling to accept that things are not how we had hoped, it is easy to see how people might stray from needing the truth to wanting to be happy. As much as we have a tendency to seek good, we have a tendency to seek happiness. When these are not one in the same, a decision must be made. At some point we must choose between what feels good, and what actually is good. When what is good hurts, we often choose what feels good the next time around. This is human nature. It is also human nature to be affected by the thoughts and opinions of those around us. Therefore, we feel the need to keep professing our desire for truth and, ironically, telling eachother what we believe others want to hear.

  39. 39 denigris

    I know this is very very late because I completely forgot and got confused on this post but i felt like writing on the subject anyway. I agree with Jellybeanqueen620, the truth does hurt sometimes. I mean i’m sure we have all had someone at some piont in our lives be completely brutally honest about something, I know I have. When I was younger and someone told me the truth about something to be complete honest I would start to cry. As I got older and more mature I realized, the truth does hurt but in the long run you can benefit from it. If someone tells me something I may not like what I am hearing but I know I can use it in the future. It’s like the concept in “Attend From the Kosmos” mutual understanding, we may not like what someone is telling us and we may not even agree but we can understand what they are trying to say. I would rather have the truth told to me and be hurt than not living honestly.By telling others the truth we may be helping someone but we are able to express our opinions and share what we really see. Sometimes it’s hard to see your flaws yourself, you have to have an opinion from someone elses eyes.

  40. 40 ndileone

    First, I would like to comment on cartoon featured in a response to Al Gore’s film/book. I believe it explains how much today’s society lives. People would much rather hear a reassuring lie rather than the harsh truth. I know as a college student, there are many instances that I will reassure with a lie, just so I don’t have to be upset with the reality.

    In jhuereca’s entry she quotes Ken Wilber, “I might lie to myself. I might try to conceal aspects of my own depth from myself. I might do this intentionally or I might do this ‘unconsciously’. But one way or another, I might misinterpret my own depth, I might lie about my own interior.”

    Like jhuereca’s views, I believe the truth can often be very “sugar coated,” which contradicts it being the truth. People prefer it that way, and will go to great measures to protect themselves with innocent lies. Therefore, i believe we can never trust anything to be the truth, because we can always lie about something to make the outcome better for ourselves. People look out for themselves, and by committing little lies, life can be just little more positive.

  41. 41 fensterb

    If someone told me they could tell me my future I am pretty sure I would say no thanks. I mean of course I would love to know because I would feel the need to know but I wouldn’t want to have my whole life planned out. We are all scared that we won’t like the truth that we are being told and might not be able to handle it. If someone told you you were going to die in 2 years, how would you handle that? I don’t think most people would be able to grasp that thought and would freak out. Sometimes not knowing is better than knowing. “What America is bassed on is not the achievement of some goal, the capture of some trophy, or the triumph of success. It’s about the process of seeking something. It’s about incompletion, dissatisfaction, striving, imperfection (Sullivan 217). I think Andrew Sullivan would say that Americans would want to know the truth, they would want to know if they were going to be successful, but to instead look deep within yourself for the truth and guide your own path, not one that is already planned out.

  42. 42 longca

    We believe the truth to be whatever we are taught in life. Some may twist and turn these thoughts and ideas into something as a lie, I agree with jral27 when he says that the only one who is hurt is who accepts the lie as the truth. We live in a society where things are tossed around and it is harder for us to tell what seperates the truth from a lie. Once we take the information into our minds and decide whether we will believe it to be true or not we are convinced. We only hurt ourselves until we do pass these false statements down perceiving them to be the truth. Most things we convice ourselves to be true are lies that are not as bad as some truths. Like ndileone says we really would rather hear a lie rather than a true statement that is harsh. I think the real question is will our cowardness of convincing ourselves that the lies are true, rather than standing up and realizing the truth in our society is harsh sometimes, will it eventually come back to us and hurt us? I think in many cases it already has, unfortunately we are told to learn from our mistakes yet our society as a whole just keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

  43. 43 jesssprung

    In The Futile Pursuit of Happiness, by Jon Gertner, the author tells us that it is impossible to determine what will make us happy in the future. He says that anything from a cheeseburger for dinner to a piece of jewlery is not guarenteed to make you happy down the road. Despite what you might think will make you happy, Gertner explains, you are wrong.

    Though I do not even belong to a temple today, I remember learning in elementary school during Hebrew School that happiness is not money, happiness comes from yourself. Sure, those who have money to spend left and right get what they want. What does that mean? It means they do not have to wish for what they want. What else might it mean? Well, it might mean that their spouse works so hard to have that large sum of money that they are never home to spend time with their family. What is a wife with a giant home but no husband to spend time with him in? Lonely. Have you ever thought of a time in your life where being alone made you happy down the road? Sure, we like our alone time– but no one WANTS to be lonely.

    Maybe this hypothetical wife is so unhappy in her giant home, she thought that an expensive car would make up for her husband’s absense. What is she going to do with the car? Drive around alone?– what a cycle this has turned out to be!

    Sometimes we look at those who are wealthy and we envy them. We envy the fact that it looks like they say they want something and it is theirs. We envy the fact that it appears to be a glamorous life. We envy the fact that it appears as though their lifes are flawless. Here is the thing: lives are never flawless and having all of that money does not just come out of the ground. SOMEONE had to have had MADE the money first. SOMEONE had to be the absent husband or wife spending hours and hours working so that their family or future generations could be well off. This glamorous life is simply an illusion to those who are envious of it. Behind the big front doors and inside the six car garage there ARE issues. Do not be fooled by the diamonds and flawless faces(eh hem..plastic surgery). It is a lie. It is so much easier to hide lies with money. Personally, I can not take to hear that someone is happy just because they have an unlimited amount of money.

    Though a wealthy lifestyle may appear glamorous…does’nt quality time with your husband and children sound even better? What do you want to remember when you are laying in bed at your old age? Do you want to remember that your lips were more plump than the rest of the wives in your town due to your injections? Do you want to remember that you had a pretty looking car for a couple of years? Do you want to remember that you walked around cleaning a large empty house that was not even a home– but simply lived in? Or would you like to remember movie dates with your husband? Or camping out with your children? Making memories is what is real. REAL memories cannot be covered up by lies. Being in a loving situation is comfortable and real and can bring happiness. Sure, the family does not make as much money as they would like to but they are under a roof with the people they love. Why would you want to cover that up with anything?

  44. Recently, one friend of mine asked me – How do you know that rationality presents the real picture of reality? I, of course, had no answer but to quote David Hume who said – “we really have no rational reason to believe in objective reality but we also have no choice but to act as if it is true”. Stephen Hawking’s new book, introduces the idea of model based reality and compares human position with that of a fish in the jar that can also formulate physical laws based on how things like light behaves in the jar or how the world outside appears from the jar. These laws would of course hold true from everywhere in the jar, but the fish would have no means to realize that the physical laws of the jar model do not hold true outside the jar and thus do not present the real picture of reality. That made me ask myself – it has been more than 200 hundred years since Hume made that statement. Do we have any better reason to pursue a rational approach of investigation and trust it with some confidence to present us a true picture of reality than doing it just because “we have no choice but to act as if it is true”?

    Yes, we do. The reason being that in the scheme of things, its more realistic to divert attention to what can be achieved in a model based realism with local skepticism than just following imaginations which are not productive even to the fish in the jar! – http://hotbacteria.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/allegory-of-the-cave/


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