The Grand Delusion: Lies We Tell Ourselves


There seems to be an unlimited appetite, these days, for slogans and rallying cries around the issue of free speech. The only problem with this is that those who are most vocal want real free speech as much as they would like multiple colonoscopies all on the same day. The reason for this hypocrisy is very clear. If we had a truly open zone for free speech, many of the slogans being promulgated would be exposed as untruths. Since the McCarthy days, I cannot remember a time, when so many lies are so willingly swallowed by so many. And, unfortunately, this is not simply a problem of the print and electronic media. I meet people, almost daily, who unquestionably accept unchallenged nonsense as universal truth. Let’s look at two of the most egregious lies that pose the greatest threat to our culture.

Lie One: The income disparity in our country is bad and getting worse; and is driven by greedy business people, technology, and artificial intelligence.

Truth One: The income gap is driven by information. The more information we pump into the culture, the more opportunity there is for risk-takers, and the greater likelihood that non-risk-takers will fall further and further behind. Information creates higher and higher levels of conflict (by continually raising expectations) and dissatisfaction with the status quo; thereby increasing the pain and discomfort of those who fear the necessary losses that come with change. By its very nature, information pushes non-risk takers through their fear of loss; or further disables those paralyzed by their terror of putting what they have, at risk of losing it all.

We now live in the most insecure, unpredictable, and scary time, in the history of our species. We are new age survivors, threatened not by primitive cultures, but by the complete disappearance of guarantees and institutional safety nets. We’d be much better served by helping people grieve the catastrophic losses of their expectations for security in their lives; than by blaming others for their fears.

Lie Two: Minority groups are still struggling to get their piece of the pie, because of the endemic racism of American society.

Truth Two: The real problem is the continuing resistance to assimilation, by a number of “minority” groups, into mainstream American culture. In reality, we do not have “minority” groups in our society. We have groups that have successfully assimilated into the mainstream culture, and we have groups whose self-serving “leaders” have continually preached separatism and victimization. Race hustling and tribalism have been their rallying cries. It is sad to see people sold an unchallenged orthodoxy, whose real agenda is control and self aggrandizement.

The focus on “minorities” has been an effective distraction and camouflage of the underlying decisions of a number of subcultures to resist assimilation and continue to claim victim status. If minority status was truly the cause of cultural marginality, we’d have affirmative action and special needs programs for Chinese Americans, Persian Americans, Orthodox Jews, Sikhs and Coptic Christians. Those, and many others, are true minorities.

A combination of “Progressive” Domestic Colonialists and self-serving grievance hawkers, has created and continues to maintain a subculture of embedded poverty and low expectations. Racism, in our time, is not about the overt bigot. It is the artful use of entitlements and compensatory programs, to reward a number of groups for not assimilating.

(More and more evidence is emerging to illustrate the connection between compensatory programs and the hostility of the recipients. The real message of these programs – we’re treating you differently because you’re inherently inferior – is becoming evident to both the disablers and the recipients.)
Assimilation is the decision to act like and model the behavior of successful people; while identifying those aspects of one’s background that must be left behind. This requires the ability to differentiate between rituals and values. Every group that’s struggled with gaining acceptance into our social, economic and political mainstream, has held onto their core values, and said goodbye to many of the rituals they grew up with.

My immigrant grandfather, a man of a few words, said to me, when I was agonizing about my undergraduate major: “ If you want to be successful, don’t act like us.” He was undoubtedly unaware of it, but that was the most caring thing anyone said to me, in the process of my finding myself. We owe that kindness and caring to those around us who are struggling to find themselves.

Morrie Shechtman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *