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Refusing to see reality does not transform reality: it just hides it

"This is not happening," a friend told me emphatically and full of confidence a few days ago. "This" obviously refers to the global crisis that now affects humanity. But what is not so obvious is what does that mean of "…is not happening", because all the evidence indicates that the crisis, whatever its origin or purpose, is real.

Perhaps feeling my doubts about his expression, my friend repeated "This is not happening", to make me understand that he had not said "This should not be happening" or "This could have been avoided" or "I don’t like at all what we are facing and I'd rather not think about it."

Rather, he clearly proclaimed something absolutely counterfactual: "This is not happening," despite the inevitable conclusion that the crisis is actually happening.

Counterfactual expressions are usually expressed conditionally. "If my grandmother had not died today, she would be alive," my grandmother said every time someone said anything foolish. But, in that case or in similar expressions, the “if” at the beginning of the sentence implies an acknowledgment that the sentence itself, although it goes against the facts, does so intentionally.

But when saying "This is not happening", without any additions (such as "I wish this was not happening" or "I cannot accept that this is happening”) there is no acknowledgment that something totally contrary to reality is being expressed.

In a more direct way: my friend refused to see reality. Obviously, he cannot be accused of anything. In fact, refusing to see reality, to accept adversity, tragedy or challenge, is a clear indication of mourning, that is, of feeling and knowing that something has irretrievably changed and what follows will no longer be the continuity of what it was before.

I sincerely believe that, like my friend, we are all still in a moment of global mourning, of massive disbelief, in which we do not yet accept what is happening to us, because it is painful to recognize and accept our fragility, our mortality. We don’t like receiving the "inconvenient news" that we are ephemeral.

Therefore, we believe that the monster disappears when we close our eyes. Or that it is just a nightmare. Or that someone is hiding something from us. Or that “this” is the same as “that other thing” that has already happened “long ago and in my town”. All those are expressions of denial and mourning, but of self-deception.

And making decisions about a crisis and about the future based on the self-deception of believing that we know everything and that we can do everything is precisely what led us to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the individual and collective mourning continues. We have wasted the past and we have lost the future. And because we know now that the "saviors" (politics, science, technology, money) can no longer save us.

But there is still one more question to be answered: What is the "this" that is “not happening”? Is that “this” something real that we still don’t understand or accept? 

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