Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pretty fictions

We American types are at a crossroads. The election is part of what got us there...the financial crisis, the war. But I submit that there's an element of the American consciousness (maybe just human consciousness) that we don't talk about much. We need an intervention. We're addicts, all of us...and I'm not talking about Drugs of Choice, or even about oil. I'm talking about our insatiable hunger for shiny, simple answers in the face of urgent, complex questions. Pretty fictions make the world go 'round:
  • Your call is important to us.
  • You can lose all the weight you want with no exercise and no dieting!
  • (internal voice speaking) I've got the answer, so all these other people must be wrong. Besides, they talk funny and they dress funny and they eat weird things for dinner.
  • I LOVE your (dreadful) haircut.
  • Jesus wants you to be rich.
  • Please take this internet poll; your opinion is crucial!
  • I believe in everyone pulling himself up by the bootstraps (even if he doesn't have boots).
  • Of course you don't look fat in that outfit.
  • Easy credit terms available.
  • The good Lord never gives us more than we can handle.
  • I'm entitled to a happy, comfortable life; I've earned it.
  • This won't hurt a bit.
  • I love the sinner, I just hate the sin.
  • I know just how you feel.
  • This product will render you happy/healthy/irresistible for the low, low price of $19.95/month.
These are all around us. I don't know a single person who has never used one, often for the kindest of reasons...but sometimes not. Also, the Whole Truth is sometimes too much to bear. But I think we've created such a cloud of static with our pretty fictions that it's sometimes hard to distinguish truth from falsehood...and we end up putting our collective trust in lots of things that can't support the substance of that trust. It's not just our physical infrastructure that needs investment, but our collective spiritual one, as well.

So, how do we recognize Truth?
  • It probably won't fit on a bumper sticker.
  • It's not available for purchase.
  • It may not make us feel safer.
  • It will ask something of us, and may well be inconvenient.
  • No one holds all of it; the more we listen to one another, the more facets of it we will understand.
  • It will point us toward love and justice, if we're willing.
  • If we're truly listening, it will sing quietly in our inmost soul.
  • It will give us moments of deep peace and rest, if we manage to honor it.
Isn't continuing to grow into something of deep and lasting value a bigger deal than being skinny and sweet-smelling, and dying with the most toys?

So how, then, are we so often seduced? Are the demigods of security, greed, sloth, & ego really so powerful that we'll willingly bow down to them instead of locking arms and pointing ourselves toward faith, hope and love?

Our national conversation seems to be mostly geared toward the least common denominator of humanity. Mud is flung...epithets and half-truths and easy answers. Small, tasty fictions that somehow never quite make it to the remainder table.

Is it possible that, instead, we could each nurture a small groundswell of honesty, faith, hope, and love? What if we went on The Patch for our addiction to pretty fictions?

What would happen if we tried?

Just askin'. :-)


FranIAm said...

I must ponder this - I'll be back. This is really good, really really provocative and good.

mompriest said...

the one I am really weary of is the pervasive sense of entitlement....that the world must respond, honor, give, or enable whatever it is that each one of us is certain we are entitled too...and if I don't I'm going to blame YOU and be angry, hostile, and gossipy.

Sigh. Yeah. I'm real tired of it.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I love your green points about what truth will look like. Thank you for putting forth such hard truths.

Diane said...

Pretty fictions aka "Campaign promises".

yes, ponderable.

don't eat alone said...

You mean I have to exercise?

Good stuff. Thanks.


Turbo: said...

Jodi, Thank you!

I needed these reminders. There is so much hate in my world right now, so much misery, and the best I can do is be as quiet as possible.

Thanks for the mental feast . . .

Shalom said...

"Shiny, simple answers" - perfectly said. Great post. Thanks.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Love the term "pretty fictions" - our society is obsessed with them.i worry about the generation of young people now and what values they can glean from what we show them.

Jan said...

Thank you--good reminders. Long ago and currently, I've been overweight. The ONE time I've been really THIN was when I was clinically depressed, and I don't remember much from that time. So thin-body does not guarantee happiness, just like each of those things you listed at the top. Thanks.

Magdalene6127 said...

Yes... oh my friend, so, so much truth here.

Be my pastor, won't you?

Crimson Rambler said...

oh the hallmarks of truth are most helpful!!! And I love the idea of the patch, too!
Thank you!