Outright lies aren’t the most dangerous species of falsehood. In fact, they’re probably the equivalent of poisonous frogs: bright, deadly, but they don’t kill you unless you touch them.
There is another species of lie, that is much more pervasive and hard to see, the equivalent of a mosquito.
These lies are the sort that parade around in broad daylight as the truth and seem so compelling that they fool, not just the slow or dim-witted but the brightest among us. We’ll call these “alternative facts”. Why are they so dangerous and what are examples of this species of un-reality?
These types of lies are dangerous for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is that these lies point to a time in the present or the past and promise something that you can’t really verify until you’ve arrived. This means that you have to invest your most valuable resources – time and energy in order to discover the foundation of these lies is actually not true.
They also are held by so many people that they seep into the common cultural glue of a society and because they are seemingly so obvious they are never really questioned at a society level.
An easy example, that I struggle with is the lie that “Financial Freedom will equal happiness”.
Why is this lie more dangerous than the lie “if you jump off a bridge you’ll fly”?
To prove that financial freedom you’d have to INVEST quite a bit of time figuring out how to become financially free, perhaps giving up 4-5 decades in the pursuit, and because this is a difficult thing to accomplish, you’ll most certainly have to sacrifice things along the way. Perhaps passions, friends, time with family, having a family, investing in your children’s emotional lives, etc. This may not be the case for everyone, but at some level, sacrifice will have to happen at the altera of this lie.
The other part that is hard to unravel is that there is some percentage of truth (perhaps 60-70%) found in this lie. Some gradation of financial margin unquestionably leads to a happier life. Struggling to find food to eat or a place to live usually does not give birth to deep happiness when it’s not chosen voluntarily. This slow improvement on the small scale makes it hard for us to stop seeking it at a source of happiness when we’ve perhaps, unknowingly, reached the end of the happiness that this is able to give us.
We can confuse our lifestyle for our life.
We start to work harder, sacrificing more, and resting less, in order to achieve some dreamed of level of luxury that like our first paycheck will allow us to feel some higher level of satisfaction. At some point this is not only impossible but harmful.
We leave families, don’t enter community, avoid rest in pursuit of a lifestyle that hustle culture says will lead to the promised land of luxury for something that will ultimately disappointed if achieved alone.
It may be worth it for all of us to dig deep into the things we believe in to make sure that we’re not following seductive lies that point us to nowhere.
Fly or Fall.