– feeds your head

The desire for the comfortable truth

The truth. It’s a problematic concept but we like to treat it as if it wasn’t. We as a society seem to have this prevailing idea about the one ultimate truth that can be revealed. Almost like a law of nature. The one truth. Like a holy grail, a sacred quest. The real goal of all efforts, be it in science, in law or everyday life, is to find that one single truth. The one answer to everything. The truth. We like to think that we cherish truth in our culture. That once we see the truth we will immediately and almost automatically be able to identify it as such and thus fully embrace it. Like an inherit mechanism in our culture. We like to think we have a very profound love for truth. Do we really? Do we even know what truth is, what we really mean when we talk about truth? I am not so sure.

The problem with truth is that it’s very hard to define. Because what is really true? Is it my perception or yours? Or is it the one that most number of people can relate to? I feel discriminated. Does that mean that I am? You feel violated. Does that mean that you really are? Who decides what the truth is? Can we even identify what truth is in relation to our perceptions? If you say I’m only saying this to annoy you, you may be wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not true. If that is what you perceive, that is what is true for you. Yeah, I am aware that this line of reasoning can be dismissed as nothing more than intellectual masturbation, but that doesn’t really take away from the fact that truth is a very complicated concept. And that’s just on a pure perceptive level. It gets worse. Because it’s not only about the perception per se, it’s also about a willingness to actually perceive. If I tell you you’re wrong, I am not only saying this to annoy you, are you then willing to adjust your truth, to adjust your perception? Are you willing to integrate this new information into your understanding of the world and embrace it as truth? Or would you rather stick with your initial perception and dismiss my explanation as a lie? Are you willing to have your perception of me altered? Do you really want to see the world in that light? What are you willing to perceive?

Discrimination is a great example. Racism. Do we really want to see it? Do we really want to see that the color of your skin actually makes a difference in how society treats you? No, not really. We would rather not see that. It makes us feel uncomfortable. Arguments about equal opportunity and integration start being thrown around. Attempts are made to find other ways of explaining why people with deviant names aren’t called to job interviews and why people with a darker skin color are refused entry to certain clubs. Even though we actually know that it’s all bullshit. It’s racism, plain and simple. That love for truth that we claim to have starts transmuting into the love for the comfortable truth. And skin color is just one example. It get’s even worse when it comes to gender.

In the western world we are fairly comfortable with accepting the fact that it’s pretty horrible being a woman in Afghanistan, but when it comes to our own culture we seems to be less willing to accept the facts. Such as the ever prevailing lack of equal representation in parliament. The figure for Europe is 19.9 percent, for the world 19.2. But that’s because of lack of competency in the female population, right? Right… In that case competency seems to involve having male reproductive organs, i.e. a penis, being white and middle-aged. At least if we try to find what the real common denominators for 80.1% of the parliamentarians in Europe actually are. According to the dictionary competency is: “the quality of being competent; adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity.” Says nothing about having a penis in there. Maybe they forgot to include it. Or it’s a given. Women do not possess competency. They lack the quality of being competent. Must be where the penis is somehow implicitly understood… Yeah, I am being a smartass, but seriously. Thinking that a lack of competency is the reason we have an unrepresentative gender balance in the European parliaments is retarded. But that’s the way we prefer to explain this. That’s a truth we can live with. Women just aren’t competent enough. We don’t really want to see that whole penis issue.

And it gets even more interesting when we look at violence. We are willing to accept that women get physically abused by men in Afghanistan, that it’s even common, but not here in our, as it were, civilized part of the world. However in 2002 the Council of Europe determined, based on several studies, that 1 out of 4 women in Europe experience domestic violence in their lifetime. So pretty much everyone knows a woman who has or will be subjected to violence. That’s the facts. Or the truth if you will. A truth that’s really starting to be a bit uncomfortable. We don’t really want to see this. European women, really? Can that really be true? Yes, there are several studies to back that number, making it kind of hard to debate. The truth is indeed getting rather unpleasant… So if one out of 4 women will be the victims of violence in the framework of a relationship, logic tells us that there has to be an origin for this violence, i.e. a perpetrator, and the same logic also tells us that it’s very unlikely, not to say impossible, that the numbers of the perpetrator group would in any significant way deviate from those of the victims group. And this is when it starts getting really uncomfortable. The picture is so clear, so very obvious, but even hinting to what it’s actually showing is met with a massive wall of denial. No, it can’t be true that 1 in 4 European men at some point has, is or will beat the women they are in a relationship with in their lifetime. It can’t be true that pretty much everyone knows a man who has or will subject a woman to violence. Denial. The facts are there, staring us right in the face, but still we refuse to see. We think there just has to be another reason and frantically start looking for it. The problem is that all other suggestions are absurd. Like saying that the violence against women is carried out by a small group of severely disturbed men. 1 of 4 women is a quite substantial number so it would have to be a very logistically advanced bunch of psychos in that case.  Europe has a total population of 731 000 000 people, a bit more than half are women and of those 1 in 4 would come into question, so you do the math on that one… Yeah, absurd, but when it comes to avoiding the uncomfortable truth we are apparently prepared to accept pretty much anything no matter how idiotic. Such as claiming that all the talk about gender equality and stating the facts showing the real picture, like the fact that 99% of property in the world belongs to men, is nothing but the work of an evil feminist conspiracy with the ultimate goal of destroying the concept of family and the world as we know it. For sure… Talk about conspiracy theory. But come to think of it, too bad it’s not true. Too bad there is no evil feminist conspiracy out there, because if we look at our world and all the bad and destructive things that are happening in it, there actually seems to be one common denominator. One thing that violence, crime, pollution, war, corruption and greed have in common. (Interestingly enough the same thing that seems to be involved in the definition of competence…) If you look at the facts one could even say that violence, crime, pollution, war, corruption and greed actually has a gender. It has a penis. So if you want a final solution to all of the above mentioned problems the most efficient way would be to have a look at the domination of that gender on a global level. Or simply get rid of it all together… Did she just suggest killing all men?! Yeah, she did, but just for the sake of argument. Because the truth is that men are to an absolutely overwhelming degree responsible for all of the aforementioned atrocities. And in light of that it’s even weirder to claim that the reason that women aren’t equally represented in any of the main arenas of power, be it in parliament or in the financial world, is a lack of competency. Competency in what? How to destroy the planet and exploit everything and everyone on it? Seems like we desperately need to redefine the concept of competency in that case… My point is not actually to say that we should kill all men, my point is that when we say we want the truth we are full of shit. We don’t want the truth, we want the comfortable truth. The truth that lets us hold on to our perception of reality and that doesn’t force us to reevaluate any of our positions or values. Not the truth that let’s us see that we have a real issue with male humans on this planet. The issue being that they are really fucking it up. Yeah, I am generalizing, but seriously, that is the ONE thing they have in common – a penis. Apart from that, not much. The male gender is so overly represented in relation to all those things that as soon as you think for just one millisecond you simply cannot miss the connection. I think everyone agrees that violence, crime, pollution, war, corruption and greed are bad things, that they are not desirable and that they create a lot of problems but we refuse to see that there’s actually a gender tied to these things and that maybe it would make sense to actually have a look at why that is. It’s not a comfortable truth. It’s an uncomfortable truth. A truth we do not want. So instead we black it out and initiate the hunt for other reasons. And I’m not saying that there aren’t other reasons, of course there are, but only focusing on those it’s a bit like saying someone died of pneumonia when the pneumonia was caused by lung cancer. So am I saying that the pneumonia should be ignored? No, I’m just saying that it would be rather stupid to completely overlook the cancer… And for the very same reason it’s stupid to ignore the gender of violence, crime, pollution, war, corruption and greed. Uncomfortable as it may be.

So no, I don’t think we have a profound love of truth in our culture. What we do have is a desperate desire to not have to change our minds. We want to hold on to our familiar take on reality. We will do anything to avoid having our beliefs questioned. Including refusing to perceive even the most obvious facts about the world we live in. We’d rather keep being served lies than be exposed to uncomfortable truths. My best friend and I call these evil truths. A truth that doesn’t use a Vaseline lens when looking at the world. The raw version of reality. And no one wants the evil truth. We say we want to know, but what we really mean is we want to be assured. We don’t love the truth, want even want the truth. We want the comfortable truth and there’s a difference. And that’s my whole point here. A lot of things claimed to be true are actually just the comfortable truth, at best a fraction of the whole image. Like the popular opinion that alcohol should be legal whereas marijuana shouldn’t even though there are actually no real scientific evidence to suggest that alcohol would be less dangerous to the individual or society. In fact, most evidence would point to the opposite. But we’re not all that interested in that truth. We prefer not to see it. Prefer to not have to readjust our view on reality. The same way we prefer not to see that the pharmaceutical industry is a lot more interested in making money than in actually finding cures for various diseases. Only that which can be patented is of any interest, everything else is irrelevant. They are not actually looking for a cure for cancer. Not if that cure can’t be patented. An uncomfortable truth. And the more you scrape the surface, the more uncomfortable it gets. If you are willing to see that is. But only if you are willing to see and consequently reevaluate your understanding of the world will you ever actually get to the truth. So when we say we want the truth, what do we actually mean, the comfortable or the evil kind? I suspect the former, but I think the latter would be the better option.

2 responses to “The desire for the comfortable truth

  1. chapman executive suites March 25, 2011 at 05:56

    I had to laugh when i found this blog, i was just talking with my wife about this very thing last night. Great job!

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