Lies, love and trust — necessary illusions to cope with a cruel world
We often need illusions of hope, love, change or stability to keep our lives from degenerating into a scene from the movie “World War Z.” Illusions are what they appear to be — illusions. However, the wonderful thing about illusions is that they are, in fact, real to the person who believes them. Illusions are a double reversal. You know they’re not real, but they’re real to you. Therefore, they are real, and there are real consequences in believing in them and, of course, shattering the illusion. Shatter the illusion and you shatter the reality.
Take love for example. For a couple in love, that love can be very real to them. However, some outside observers may see that couple’s love as being real and others won’t believe in the couple’s shared love. Cynicism, skepticism or other devices in a person’s mind will make them believe or disbelieve in that love.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Perhaps that’s why love seems obfuscated and illusive to so many. We see so many types of love that love almost seems indescribable and even amoral. Why “amoral”?
Ever seen a physically abused woman in love with her husband?
Ever seen a woman beaten so badly that her eye is swollen shut? And yet, when you try to intervene or guide her away from the horrible man, the same response is uttered universally at the same time: You don’t know him and I love him.
Love, to her, is an illusion but also real at the same time. She’ll react like she’s in love and will never sever the relationship with that man for what it is until she gets some sort of professional help, or, her journey with that man comes to an abrupt and mortal ending.
Another example of illusions that are real also happens in our economy. Look at the banking and mortgage crisis of 2007.
No matter why the banks were over-leveraged — the sub-prime predatory lending, people borrowing more than they could afford, or very brilliant minds concocting machinations to drain as much money out of the market and working man/woman as possible — one thing is absolutely clear. All business actions are predicated upon one thing that is illusory at best: trust.
The US government had to pump $700 billion of currency into the banks or the next time you used the ATM machine, nothing would come out. You need to be able to cash your paycheck, use your credit/debit card, write checks and so on. All business transactions are built on an illusion of trust. Imagine for a moment that you couldn’t withdraw $100 from your bank. Read about The Great Depression and you’ll see the illusion of trust shattered for millions of Americans during the 1930s and ’40s.
Finally, look at lying.
Lying is often necessary in just about any relationship you could have. Don’t sit there and say you have never lied. I have and you have.
My pretend girlfriend Lolo Jones comes downstairs and asks if I like her shoes. On any sort of level, I could care less about shoes. However, I tell her that the shoes she put on are perfect. I just lied to her. I don’t care about the shoes. However, the illusion of me caring is a necessary lie.
Want to be dragged into an hour-long argument about shoes?
I don’t want to argue with Lolo Jones about why I lied about shoes, what else I’m lying about, and other random things she’s been storing in her mind for the duration our pretend relationship. Even if I don’t care about shoes, I will lie and tell her that the shoes look perfect. It’s an illusion that I need her to believe so I can continue to keep the relationship on an even keel. I’m sure Lolo Jones will tell me I’ve been losing weight.
Illusions are fantasies, but they are also real. That is the true power of the mind. We need illusions to shape and bring order to society, and to bring some sort of harmony to people’s lives. A world without illusions would be one random cruel joke that doesn’t make any sense.
Illusions are real.