"We know what work faces us now."

It doesn't take much to fool an eye. At first glance, false perspective seems true. Following the lines quickly leaves one tangled, though, and unbelieving. That initial impression sticks through a few disconfirming iterations. The image starts to seem both wrong and right, with right holding his thumb on the scale. Poisoned by the imbedded FalsePremises, judgment struggles. My eyes seem to be lying to me. How very clever of the artist to turn me against myself, to compromise my formerly reliable perspective. I've been fooled and I feel every inch the fool. How easily a single falsehood compromises anyone receiving it! A series of falsehoods produce even worse results.

I'm a sworn enemy of cynicism, yet I seem to collect more evidence to support it than I do to encourage my optimism.
I remain optimistic anyway, figuring that my cynical side might—just maybe—find false perspectives more to its liking. A reassuring lie might find better accommodations than any threadbare truth, for facts feel disconcerting. Not even the generals charged with defining who were the bad guys could say just who the bad guys were. The soldiers in the field had no idea, either. They were ordered to aim and fire, so they aimed and fired, becoming ever more deeply enmired in the originating FalsePremises.

The future might remember Ben Laden as the most masterful military mind of his time, for he found a way for the otherwise overwhelming opposing force to do pitched battle with itself for the sake of their own pride. We possessed
MIGHT which we deployed against an illusion of an enemy. We went to war against terrorism, a definition with no tangible referent except that we'd know it when we'd seen it, but by then it would have already moved on. Bravery without humility becomes hubris. We thought that, as long as we had the hood up, we might just as well reengineer their society, introduce democracy, and build some schools, bring that festering backwater into the twenty-first century. They, the people, tore down those schools as fast as we could build them. They didn't want to be like us. They wanted to be more like themselves.

The reckoning will most certainly prove more painful than the originating insult, but we've brought it upon our selves. No matter how we might aspire to live the truth, we've become more accustomed to living with lies, our deepening cynicism blunting the full immediate impact of them on our daily lives. What political advantage resides in public policy devoid of lies? What pride survives authentic humility? Can we admit defeat, even if it came at our own hand, and still find our homeland alluring? Must we believe ourselves the best to avoid thinking we're the worst, or even worse, merely average? American, not right or wrong, but right AND wrong, "a walking contradiction," as Chris Kristofferson said, "partly truth and partly fiction," built on a few FalsePremises and nourished, I still firmly believe, by our always hesitant ability to reverse-engineer enough truth into them to sustain ourselves. We know what work faces us now.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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