Just a little test here, folks – a challenge, if you will. It is my contention that most of us believe a series of falsehoods which distort our ability to make rational decisions. This is far more prevalent on the left than on the right, but all of us are immersed in a sea of lies and thus even when we’re trying to get it right, we can often get it wrong because some facet of our action is motivated by a lie. So, here’s something to think about – how many times have you heard the phrase, “believe in yourself”? Ten thousand times? A million? I’ll bet that 100% of us have heard it and that 99% of us believe it. If you just believe in yourself, you can get on. Just this past Saturday morning I was watching the TV for a few minutes and there was Donald Trump saying “I believe in myself”. But, is there anything to it? A quote:
Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true. Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.”(the name of a lunatic asylum – ed.) I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.” He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums. “Yes, there are,” I retorted, “and you of all men ought to know them. That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself. That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room, he believed in himself. If you consulted your business experience instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can’t act believe in themselves; and debtors who won’t pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief like believing in Joanna Southcote: the man who has it has ‘Hanwell’ written on his face as plain as it is written on that omnibus.” And to all this my friend the publisher made this very deep and effective reply, “Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?” After a long pause I replied, “I will go home and write a book in answer to that question.” This is the book that I have written in answer to it. – G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter II, The Maniac
Kind of puts a new perspective on it, doesn’t it? The phrase “believe in yourself” has been entirely ingrained in your existence (I speak here to the 99% who currently believe in the notion – if you are of the 1% who saw through it all along, then you may skip this). It is just part of your mental make-up…it is a dogma you not only don’t question, but don’t even see a reason to question. If you bother to read the rest of the book, you’ll find the answer to what you should believe in instead of yourself: God. If you believe in God then you’ve taken that first step to wisdom (and if you maintain a genuine belief in God while you believed that you should “believe in yourself” then you avoided the worst errors attendant upon believing in yourself). To believe in yourself is a form of idolatry – it is part of the first lie of hell (“you shall be as gods”). And it leads to all sorts of errors – like, just for one in ten thousand examples, the man who will leave his wife and children so that he can pursue some dream or other…breaking his word and destroying a family because he “believes in himself”.
This is not to say that you can’t go places by believing in yourself. Lenin and Hitler showed what can be accomplished by people who set themselves up as their own god and follow that god to the bitter end. But if you want to have wisdom – basic sanity – then your first action is to not believe in yourself. It is to believe in God – because then you’ll always understand that there is someone greater than yourself. With that in mind you are far less likely to go as far wrong as those who believe that no one can call them to account.
Now, why bring this up? Because, as I’ve said, we are awash in a sea of lies – they are everywhere and affect everything we do. The lie about “believe in yourself” is relatively harmless on the individual level…it merely prevents a person from really seeing what is important but does not, unless married to extreme pride, lead to any difficulties for others. But it is a lie, and it should be known as a lie – and people should stop believing it. There is no effort made in the world today which is not hampered at every turn by the lies we believe. Until we stop believing the lies and seek what is true we simply will not be able to even start fixing what ails us. My advice to everyone is to think carefully about everything which is said to you – especially by government and corporations (religions, too…but as religions don’t tend to try and sell you an actual product nor having the power to jail you, they are less likely even when false to cause you a problem). Especially here in 2012, when the ultimate fate of our nation hangs in the balance, we are required to get at the truth and act fearlessly upon it. As things are said and done, think about them…think about what is said and carry it through to its logical conclusion, no matter how absurd that conclusion may seem. Don’t fall for anything unless, after careful thought, you believe it rings true. If we all do that, then none of us can be fooled and we will do the right thing.