Friday, June 14, 2013

Truth - We're Still Burning Witches at the Stake to Avoid It

A wise man once told me that if a person is angry with somebody and they won’t deal with it they will create stories in their head about that person, turning them into a monster of some sort. They’ll judge, hang, draw and quarter the person. They’ll even spread malicious gossip about them and feel justified in it. The one thing they won’t do is give the object of their judgment a chance to tell their side of the story. They don’t want the truth.

They’re usually not aware of what they’re doing, and to them their own actions will seem very logical, their judgments rational. And thus a myth begins that gathers a lot of weight over time. It eventually comes to be regarded as absolute truth. It can ruin a life.

It happens all the time in a family, community or society that doesn’t value personal truth or the expression of emotion and is afraid of both. The person who started the stories often has an outward demeanor of kindness, generosity and sociability. Because they never show their anger. Except to the one they vilify. They gain credibility and their victim becomes a scapegoat for everybody’s unresolved anger.

Once that starts happening, the person being vilified doesn’t stand a chance. If they're more emotionally truthful they’ll express their anger at the injustice of being judged without being allowed a chance to tell their side of whatever story has been passed around. The more they do that, they more they’re seen as imbalanced. 

They will be judged, hung, drawn and quartered, stoned to death, burned at the stake, choose your metaphor. Which is probably what happened to women accused of being witches in the Middle Ages.
We’re kidding ourselves if we think those days are over. They’re not really. We maybe don’t actively cause physical death but we contribute to myths that create depression, isolation, massive self doubt, and can lead to a person committing suicide. Either we actively participate in furthering the myth or we stand aside and do nothing. 

For the victim, that is. We’ll do a lot for everybody else, to reinforce the idea that we’re wonderful. Got to keep that credibility up.

Truth? We don’t value it nearly as much as we value our own fictions. We’d much rather build stories that rescue us from having to face our own anger and vulnerability and be accountable for our own actions, our own unresolvedness. I suppose it’s because societies still run on quite a primitive concept of right and wrong. And if we let ourselves see the truth of our anger, our very not-niceness, we would vilify ourselves as much as we do the victims of our stories. I guess for all that we like to think we’re civilized it boils down to this: it’s easier to hurt somebody else than to hurt yourself.