Authority. I have always questioned it. I think that is the nature of the beast….to be questioned and challenged. And when it is found to be unimpeachable, factual and true…then and only then should it become unquestionable.
The common man in the world relies on various sources of authority. The police, the courts, the pulpit and most importantly the media. These are necessary points of reference to navigate. Like star-guided ship captains, we need solid instructions about the reality of things to guide us throughout our journey here on this spinning egg.
When any of these authorities is found to be intentionally misleading, it should make us question the very nature of the source itself.
As we all know, history is written by the winners…the winners of wars, conflicts, financial coups…whatever. If you come out on top, you get to write your own version of what happened. Few will question your side of things…because, well…you are the winner. You must have some credibility. Unless.
Unless you cheated. When you cheat to win, unlike what your parents told you, you are not just cheating yourself. Cheating has become a way of life. If you can get by with it…then you win. I won’t get into that very deeply, but I think you can see where that philosophy can lead. But for the moment let’s look at the cheated.
As ascribed to P.T. Barnum, “There is a sucker born every minute”. Although he was speaking as an authority in his professional capacity as a huckster…and a very successful one…it goes MUCH deeper than that.
I was at a carnival once with a wealthy man. A large stuffed “something” caught his eye and he wanted it. He wanted it so badly that it became more than the plushy itself…it became the act of winning it that he pursued. He
played the carny’s game over and over, putting down more and more money. Losing every time. It got to the point that the carny offered to “give” the man the damned stuffed toy. But no, he spent all the cash he had on him and actually returned the next night to continue his quest to “win” the object.
This was not a stupid man. He was a professional. Well respected in his community, intelligent and well educated. This was the only time I ever saw him behave this way. It was an obsession, really. He HAD to win. He had to prove to himself that the game(contrary to what I kept telling him) was not rigged, and that the only reason that most people didn’t win the BIG prize was that they couldn’t afford to play the game long enough. They had to be honest at that booth. There aren’t really con-men out to rob you. It has to be more complicated than that.
I didn’t return with him the following evening in his quest…it was too embarrassing for me. But he did finally win the prize. Of course it took him probably $200 dollars and two summer evenings to win a $5.oo toy….but he did it.
I hear you saying to yourselves…”what a fool”. But aren’t we all in that midway with him doing exactly the same thing. Somewhere, lost in the tried-and-true synapse path of our brains we KNOW that the game is rigged. We know that that ugly disgusting little man with the big nose on our tv screen is lying to us about this or that “rewritten” history, or the news of the day. We know he has an agenda, but our ship is getting more and more off course and we need to reference something solid to keep our direction steady. So it being the only game in town this evening, we keep putting our money down to prove that what we see is true. We need the authority.
They know this. They know it better than Barnum and they know it better than you.
You WILL strain to see them as the right choice for CEO or bank president or Supreme Court Justice. They can’t all be liars and cheats. If they are, then as the Firesign Theatre once posited, “everything you know is wrong”. That would mean questioning the very nature of what you are, because what you “know” IS what you are. And that is just too costly. Too dear.