I’m sure you are confident that if you come across proof that your belief system is wrong, you will accept it and move on past the outdated and WRONG belief. But you have heard the stories of groups of people, or nations of people, believing in something that is so outrageously stupid. And you might have thought to yourself “my god, hasn’t anyone just told them how wrong they are?” The answer is that someone has.
So you might just say to yourself “well, I just don’t understand how anyone can be that stupid!” And then you tend to dismiss it and go on with your life. But I would like to invite you to think about it now. Because most likely, one day you’re going to be equally stupid about something, and probably already are.
So how can someone be that stupid?
The answer is the blank-out. The first time I came across this concept is in Ayn Rand’s last novel, Atlas Shrugged. Surprisingly it’s not really talked about elsewhere in the mainstream educational system, religious system, or even Ayn Rand’s own cult followers. I’m sure behavioral economists, psychologists, neurologists, and theologians have known for a very long time of this common human frailty.
What the rest of us aren’t aware of is that humans have an ability to blank out things from our consciousness that we don’t want to deal with. It’s there to protect us from our memory. If you were constantly aware of how much information that you just collected in the few seconds that it took you to read this sentence, then you would most likely go crazy very soon.
This mechanism is there to help us, but unfortunately we tend to want to remember useless things like how to beat Zelda: Ocarina of Time, while blanking out some deep truth about ourselves that is dangerous for us to face.
What is the danger that we’re using our brains to protect us from? That we are wrong about something we believe that composes the foundation of our lives. Things like whether God exists, whether we are a good person, whether we like our job, whether it’s ok to think that black people are inferior, whether women are equal to men.
When these foundations of our entire existence are abut to be shaken, we tend to “look away” from any further questioning and we think about something else. The really sinister thing about the blank out is that the act of the blank out is blanked out. You avoid the paths of conscious thought that might lead to anything you don’t want to face, including the fact that you weren’t courageous enough to go down that path the last time.
This is a spiral that continues and the number of things that you blank out, increases. Like a lie, the web of deceit to yourself, about yourself, grows inside your mind. Soon all that’s left are dangerous roads of thoughts, riddled with land mines of truths that will destroy your current reality. You find that any place you walk too deep into your mind will lead to a deep chasm of pain that has been waiting to consume you for years, growing with each avoidance.
And then you die.
But the truth shall set you free
And probably hurt you and everyone else around you very much. If you’re young and your mind is fresh and clear of shame and guilt, then please listen well. Face yourself and others with courage and don’t practice your ability to blank out thoughts too much.
The system in your head is there to make sure that you’re only focused on the more important things in life. So it’s ok to forget exactly what happened on that one episode of Friends. And it’s ok to not remember what you wore when you visited your cousins a year ago. But it’s not ok to forget that you’re a bigot, or that you hate your mother, or that the friends you hang out with bore you to death.
Face it, do something about it. Now before it’s too big for you to face anymore.
As for the rest of you (us). If the roads are so dark that it requires courage that we don’t have the capacity to muster. Then let’s learn how to muster it. Let’s work up to that point where, hopefully long before our funeral, we’ve purged the past and laid clean our minds and hearts.