There is no idea so awful we should cower from its honest consideration.
There is no real thing so terrible that we should dishonestly reject its existence.
I genuinely believe the above two lines should not be controversial; they should be a minimum standard, yet I’ve been called things like “hardliner” and “extremist” for expressing these views. I think they should be the minimum standard for us all of the time, without exception, but I don’t think this is extremism so much as “common sense” if we want to collectively survive and continue to develop. We don’t want to improve and develop – we just want to pay the rent and eat and get drunk on our feelings. We’ve manipulated each other into believing this is all life can be.
We must learn to honestly reject such abhorrent things as are changeable, and to accept those that are not. We must never be afraid to think or to accept what we have good reason to believe to be real. It is better to be frightened by what we think than to cower before our own capacity for fear because the fear in either case is just one more attempt we make to hold onto our comfortable denials of uncomfortable truths. This perpetuates the cycle of unnecessary suffering. We employ the molecules we perceive as fear to make rejecting the issue at hand feel reasonable in the moment, and in the absence of conscientious reflection we tend to enjoy how this escape feels, thus imparting an additional abuse potential to our fear. We apply similar tactics to other emotions.
It shouldn’t need stating how damaging it is for us to become addicted to routines we use to induce fear, anger, or any strong emotion. In such a state we sacrifice our clarity and with it our ability to distinguish real mistakes and threats, and their severity, making ourselves more vulnerable rather than less. This is true on physical scales, on human interpersonal scales, and probably others. Our judgment deteriorates with our emotionalism at the most fundamental level. All of our choices become affected. What we think is real becomes affected.
There exists no correlation between a person’s level of education or their innate intelligence and the way in which they choose to value self honesty. Professional pretense is just that. Pretense. Self honesty is a held value, which means it’s a value we can choose to recalculate as often as we wish, or as often as we consider the possibility. Extremely intelligent people can be maliciously dishonest and poorly educated people of unknown cognitive capacity can sometimes be surprisingly self honest, but neither of these extreme examples illustrates a meaningful trend.
We like to pretend that people are static, that a person is either honest or not and we frequently abuse this idea by increasingly normalizing dishonesty in our social expectations of ourselves and each other. There are no honest people in the sense that there are no people I’ve ever become aware of who are unwaveringly honest, nor are there likely to be people who have had the opportunity and inclination to always be honest in the past. There are people who struggle harder with their selves than others; people who try to practice the values they hold. This is about as good as it gets in the state we’re in. It’s not enough, but so many dishonest ideas have been normalized that a person can imperil themself and their place in society by pursuing more. I think half of the value of isolation in figuring these things out is simply being free of the hostility and pressure of other people’s false expectations.