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The self-deception of living inside our own echo chamber

It has been said you can’t force people to see what they don’t want to see or to hear wat they don’t want to hear. In other words, a closed will also means closed minds and closed hearts. This truth is so old that two millennia ago a wandering preacher urged those with ears to hear.

Closer to a time, Henry David Thoreau said that, “It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”

Yet, there is nothing we can hear or see, even if we have good ears and eyes, if we refuse to see it or hear it. But, what are we frequently refuse to see and hear? In most cases, we don’t want to see or hear anything contradicting what we think or what we expect, or anything different from our own version of the world.

As Franciscan spiritual writer Richard Rohr said, we have become addicted to our own ideas and that addiction is the most powerful addiction of our time, thus being very difficult to recognize and face.

Let me share an example. I was recently at a park and, just by chance, I happened to see a little girl, probably no more than 5 years old, climbing a tree. Her father, distracted by a conversation, only saw her when she was already a couple of feet or so on the tree. He told her to climb down and she immediately did it. (By the way, she was never in any danger.)

Once on the ground, the girl turned around, “slapped” the tree and said, “Bad tree, bad tree”. It seems to me she thought the tree was some kind of “accomplice”, allowing her father to discover she was doing something she was not supposed to do. And, because of that, the tree deserved to be slapped and chastised.   

Obviously, little girls can do that because they still assume that inanimate (inanimate?) objects have their own intentions and therefore they blame those objects instead of assuming their responsibility for their own actions and for the results of those actions.

However, we see similar behaviors and attitudes in many adults, decades remove from being little boys or girls, who insist on looking for scapegoats or for the “true responsible party” of whatever is happening to them, never assuming their own responsibilities and refusing to listen to any other point of view, except theirs.

Somebody wrote that when you are a child, you act and think as a child. Then, when are an adult, you stop thinking and acting as a child. Or you should do it, I add. According to Father Rohr, we live in a society where fewer and fewer people arrive to that “second half” of their lives.

How are we then going to escape from our echo chamber, our neurotic, narcissistic, technological version of Plato’s allegorical cavern? Obviously, it is not up to me to provide any answer. I can only say we should seriously challenge our thoughts and beliefs.


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