“All evil begins with a lie. The biggest evil comes from the biggest lies, and the biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. And we lie to ourselves because we’re afraid to take ourselves on.” — Brother John
To evolve is to question everything every time, all the time. And questioning our past is what some 200 million children born this year will begin to do from the moment they are able. Born an astute observer with an innate sense of curiosity, intelligence, morale and a yet untainted mind, every young child will go through a learning phase where he/she will begin to ask some astoundingly fundamental questions.
Such questions are not always easy to answer by the caregivers of the child. For the answer exposes their intelligence and knowledge, challenging the validity of our many foregone conclusions.
A great example of a seemingly benign question a young child may ask is about the color of the sky. Asked for the simple purpose of picking the right color pencil to draw the sky on paper during a school assignment. Most teachers and caregivers will answer such question what the color of the sky appears to be on a bright and sunny day; blue. And if no caregiver is available at the time to provide advisory, the child will be tempted to color the sky the color other children gave it. Stored as an unquestionable truth from that point forward most children will draw the sky blue and the clouds white on every occasion.
Innocent as you may call this exchange, it highlights so precisely how unchallenged assumptions sneak in to form the weak foundation of many of our ingrained beliefs. Let me unpack this example’s multifaceted fallacies.
For starters, we all ought to know and realize the sky is actually translucent and does not have a color at all, and relays the color of the substance behind it. Meaning, the early lesson we teach our children is flat-out wrong, and our kids carry that lie with them into their future, at some point embarrassingly confronted with the ontological truth by someone ahead in development. Our kids will also soon find out we do not always tell them the truth, for one reason or another.
To pick the right crayon, blue may not have been such a wrong choice unless the question was asked during another exposure of the sky, at sunset or sunrise or on a gloomy day. An inquisitive kid would then have frowned at our answer. We must concede what we conveniently described as absolutism of truth, the sky drawn as blue, is in actuality a theory of relativity. Meaning, the child could have looked up at the sky and picked up one of many colors from the crayon basket to draw the sky. And the child could have even picked more than one. Grave depravity of reason is the outcome of the fundamental incompatibility between an assumption of absolutism used to describe a reality of relativity.
That we pick blue as the prevailing color of the sky is also no accident. We associate a blue sky with a lack of rain and rising temperatures and depending on where we live to associate such appearance with a good life. We instinctively suggest the kind of color crayon we want the sky to be, not the reality of its actual color, nor for it representing the appropriate color given the location or time of the scene drawn on paper. Our preference for the desired outcome, rather than reality, is the truth we portray as accurate.
Now, if your children are not growing up to become astronauts or scientists, the discovery of the truth about the color of the sky may not rock their world too much. But we apply the same lies, fundamental incompatibilities and wishful thinking to the state of human freedom, our democracy, the workings of capitalism, our thrust for innovation and our economics. And we are all affected by those, directly or indirectly, every single day of our lives.
In my book, I will not only question the man-made religions we treat as a fait accompli but also lay the groundwork for a renewable democracy based on our best and evolving understanding of nature. Describing not another fairytale but based on the real world as we comprehend it today.