The vast majority of people by the time they reach college, do not believe there is such a thing as objective reality. Truth is supposed to correspond with reality. However, in actual fact – we are steeped in relativism. Only images, impressions, preferences and perceptions form a concept of truth. We live in an illusory world, where countless mixed motives are vying for the perceptions of truth. All throughout history, various theories gradually turn into facts, whether they correspond with reality or not.
There are 4200 religions in the world today. Within those conceptual frameworks and belief systems, there are layers of differences in what people believe to be true, even if they belong to or believe in the same religion. When you extrapolate the number of different ideas of what is true based on religion alone, it grows exponentially. The war between truths then – is the war between relativism, and objective or corresponding truths. The correspondence theory of truth means that truth corresponds to reality.
What is the definition of “ism”? An ism is a set of beliefs, which are especially subject to disapproval of certain segments of the population. Isms are used to form nouns that represent layers of social, political, or religious beliefs. We all have vague ideas surrounding definitions of fascism, liberalism, ageism, racism, sexism, classicism, and many other isms related to ideas, concepts and theories.
The problem is that isms are then connected to a sense of inferiority and economic vulnerability. The notion that the higher class, the superior, and dominance oriented stance is based on religious beliefs, gender, power, or economic status is a method of control. Dominance and control is not about love. It is about the ongoing self-serving interests of those who exert power over others for personal gain.
In actual fact, power, control and dominance come from a place of deep insecurity. Fascism dictates power over the lives of others. It is a representation of strong, autocratic, dictatorial and oppressive control over others, not just the behaviour – but the actual thought, belief and opinions of others. Why? Because isms lead to insecurities. When controlling personalities or political ideologies are faced with instability or lack of confidence – they project their wrath and blame others.
Since objective reality is so scarce – how does one define delusional? Delusional means that beliefs are not based in reality or have been founded upon faulty or mistaken judgement. There are extreme delusional cases in mental health, where people believe they are being chased by aliens, or have bugs crawling on them, or they may have auditory and visual hallucinations.
But in the absence of a loss of touch with reality – who has the right to control, demonize or diagnose another person’s intellect, thoughts and beliefs? Are they layered? Absolutely. There is no belief system or ism that is not layered with multiple concepts, ideas, memories and experiences. If delusional is applied to one person’s belief system – then it applies to all.
The poor person is not delusional simply because he or she is poor or facing economic vulnerability. The disabled person is not delusional because of illness or a physical disability. Yet the disadvantaged are far more likely to be labeled as such. Women, especially single women, poor people, Aboriginal people, and those with disabilities are also most likely to be labeled and medicated for their beliefs and/or vulnerabilities.
When it comes to corporate fascism and human rights abuses – the rich man is not considered to be delusional for some unknown reason. Yet he may be the most delusional one of all. He lacks insight. He is incoherent in rational thought, because he will not be challenged. He is a con artist, yet he has set up so many layers of protection, he sees himself as being invincible. He will not admit wrongdoing, or expose any vulnerabilities. Power is probably the number one delusion of all time. We only need to look at some of the political leaders to see the range of self-exaltation and delusion among the rich and powerful.
Power is delusional because it is often arrived at as a result of deception. If power is achieved through a series of foundational lies – it is sure to crumble. Abuse of power means the person will lose that power. All it takes is a single stroke. It could be a stroke of the pen, a stroke of ballots, a stroke of bad luck, a stroke of God’s wrath, or a stroke – as in a hemorrhagic brain aneurysm, and that person’s reign of power is gone – like chaff in the wind. Then, they await the final judgment day. In the meantime, their reality changes, and their delusion is not sustainable.
So who in their right mind abuses power and uses deception and coercion to oppress the poor and the vulnerable for personal gain and exaltation? Lots of people do. It is a rampant problem, which has led to countless conflicts, wars, and loss of human rights and potential. Those who abuse power do so at their own peril – yet they lack insight into the basic principles and guidelines surrounding morality in human behaviour, such as the golden rule. They see themselves as vastly superior. Is that not a central symptom of delusional thinking? Once they completely lose their health, mobility or cognitive function – they will not even be able to take a shower or go to the bathroom on their own. What makes anyone so delusional as to believe they are exempt from the natural laws of the universe?
Is a god-like, self exalted, profit driven doctor, or a rich and ruthless executive exempt from natural laws and loss of power? Prestige and position is temporary. Wisdom dictates that they should not abuse their power while they have it. There are consequences when it comes to the abuse of power for personal gain. No matter what they get away with in life, it does not mean they won’t get a multi-infarct dementia or have a heart attack. Do they really think they will maintain power over others once that happens? Isn’t it better to make decisions in life with some integrity, so that when you do exit the world of power, dominance and control – you have hope of mercy and compassion – instead of wrath and judgement?
The age of relativism, or the impressions of truth, do not portray an accurate representation of reality. In fact, the greatest intellectual question of all time – is to define what is truth. One lecturer proved a point about eye witnesses being able to provide truth as evidence in a trial. During his speech, he had an actor unexpectedly run in front of him on the stage, and wave his hands in front of his face, then run away.
The lecturer stopped his lecture and began to ask people in the small audience what just happened. Five out of five people who witnessed this, believed the man had slapped or slapped at the speaker. In reality, there was no slapping involved. The speaker did this exercise to prove a point about eye witness testimonies.
One of the most powerful representations of the altered perception fact is demonstrated by some of the Mount Everest disasters. The book by Jon Krakauer “Into Thin Air” is a journalistic non-fiction account of one of the greatest tragedies on Mount Everest. The ill fated 1996 expedition was one of the worst climbing disasters of all time, where a freak storm and a series of human error, led to the death of eight climbers. Although the book became a best seller, there was much controversy about the truth or objective reality surrounding the events that took place.
On that particular expedition, Russian climber Boukreev was portrayed by Krakauer as having made many mistakes. In fact, the experienced high altitude Russian climber saved three lives because he had the experience and foresight to make decisions that were not understood by the novice journalist.
In addition, the lack of oxygen and extreme weather conditions did give each individual a unique perspective, since it was a matter of location, hardship, survival and individual peril. Boukreev refuted many of Krakaeur’s statements, claiming in different interviews that he was haunted by the falsehoods. Krakauer ended up making a lengthy addendum to his book, in an attempt to explain the differences of perception.
Boukreev then co-authored a book “The Climb” Tragic ambitions on Mount Everest, depicting his version of the climb, which was quite different from the journalists point of view. He was ultimately vindicated when he was awarded the David Sowles Award, the highest mountaineering award for courage, due to the fact he saved the lives of other climbers. What could be a better representation of truth than to risk one’s life to save others? Those people are alive because of him, and surely they believe it!
Sadly, only a year later Boukreev, at age 39, was killed in an avalanche during a high altitude winter climb. His final poetic tribute is perhaps a demonstration of the old adage “to thine own self be true”.
May your spirit rise higher than mountains! I have returned from my Fall expeditions and all my pain of the Summer has lifted somewhat from my spirit into the crystal air of the Himalaya. Compelled: in that world you may know yourselves and beauty that is eternal. The very best to you in the coming year.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
January 1, 1997
To those who are fascist and delusional about power – when their end comes, the spirit is not lifted, but rather it is weighted down with that anchor of delusion, as it faces the ultimate defeat. Defeat in death is only defeat, if it is accompanied with self-exalted, destructive delusions and lies. Otherwise, just as Boukreev predicted – his spirit will be lifted to an eternal beauty. The choices we make on a day to day basis, and the way in which we treat others, has eternal ramifications. Make no mistake, since that is the essence of faulty thinking – and the eventual judgement people bring upon themselves.
Did Anatoli Boukreev know he would be gone shortly after he wrote those words? Who knows? But he did know the truth about the human spirit, the concept of eternity, and what it means to rise above it. He came to this conclusion as a result of a passion for mountain climbing.
Some people might believe such behaviours exhibit a death wish, or foolish risk taking. But none of us gets to dictate or control the actions or outcomes of another human being. If we can eradicate that single delusion surrounding power, dominance and control – surely the world would be a better place. There are more mountains in the human mind – than anywhere else in the Universe. Some traverse the deepest crevasse – without even realizing it. They lack the intrinsic courage to look up, or down – until it is too late. Delusion is not only a state of mind – it affects others to the detriment of spirit and truth – from which there is no escape.