In Many a Mechanism of Self-deception,
Anger and Fear Prevent You From Reasoning
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
The classical sentence “In war, truth is the first casualty” is ascribed to Aeschylus.
If you agree with the idea, you must not automatically believe everything you see and hear, especially in times of war. There may be more falsehoods in commercial media in Western countries than birds in the sky.
But the axiom is not restricted to military conflicts. In every war of words, too, the first victim is the truth. As a result of such a fact, liars and “clever knaves” often seek to create a climate of conflict and turbulence.
Dishonest individuals take advantage of the fact that once people are angry and indignant (or embarrassed, or intimidated) no one really examines with due care the things that are being said.
Thanks to such a trick, falsehoods and illusions can circulate more freely and are widely accepted.
This is the reason why organized power schemes based on illusion try to escape any calm dialogue in which everyone is free to reason in lucid ways. They prefer to fabricate resentment and distress.
The same trick is often subconsciously used by honest people as well. They do not do so in order to deceive other persons or delude communities. There is an unknown need in them to defeat themselves and to cultivate and perpetuate their own attachment to negative emotions. Deep old feelings in them automatically prefer those forms of pain and victimhood they have been long used to, rather than the forms of victory they have never experienced.
For victory is uncomfortable and is therefore automatically avoided by millions. In many a mechanism of self-deception, anger and fear will prevent you from reasoning. They provide you with an elegant excuse to remain a slave to your favorite forms of defeat, and away from clear, impersonal thinking.
Renouncing one’s discernment in order to appease one’s enemies, is, of course, among the most popular forms of self-deception in the West by now. In reality, however, severity is as important as a keen sense of justice.
In social interaction, those whose power schemes are unfriendly to truth make full use of the mental laziness of communities and individuals. They work to create a subtly authoritarian consensus, according to which “thinking is unnecessary”. They believe that good slogans are enough to solve all problems. And they say: “there is no time now to clarify issues”. Instead of seeking for truth, they submit to, and spread, sophisticated propaganda techniques and emotional blackmail whose main action takes place on subconscious levels of perception. From this collective hysteria emerges.
In order to dismantle mechanisms of deception and self-deception, a consistent, calm thinking must be stimulated that is combined with a clear sense of purpose and a decision to win. There must be a daily and weekly time to think things over, to examine and strengthen our priorities, to learn from our mistakes present and past, and to renew our commitment to the goal.
Our real long-term enemy is the absence of wisdom in our lives. The most correct war to promote is the war against our own spiritual ignorance. While doing this we can assist those who are facing the same conflict. Helping others in such a struggle is what wise people do.
In this series of battles, truth gradually becomes the winner. As long as you know you can rely on your search for truth, you can stop appeasing enemies and start strengthening ties with your friends, even if this is uncomfortable. You are now ready to confront the unavoidable challenges of life with the necessary rigour.
The article “The Real War and How to Win It” was published on the websites of the Independent Lodge of Theosophists on 9 May 2024.  It is also available at the theosophical blog in “The Times of Israel”.
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