"Reality is unforgiving. There is no escape. We live in a culture opting for fantasy over reality. As with so many other things, we don’t want to know."
The above lines are taken from an Op-Ed piece by Bob Herbert today in the NY Times about how the Michael Jackson phenomenon relates to a disturbance in our culture. Bob is absolutely right. People so often choose to believe in and live out the fantasies stuck in their heads from childhood, layered upon year after year by the intellect and the ego until they become as all-encompassing as a tidal wave.
But make no mistake - living in fantasy is not an alternative to living in reality. Reality is the only thing there is. There isn't a "choice" involved, because there isn't something else to choose. We all live in reality. Period.
Drastic plastic surgery never made Michael Jackson look better than he did before, no more than anyone's plastic surgery ever makes them look more attractive. Think about it. Anybody you know who has had plastic surgery looks like they had plastic surgery!
More from Bob Herbert:
"The craziness [begun in the 1980's] played out on a shockingly broad front and Jackson’s life, among many others, would prove to be a shining and ultimately tragic example. Ronald Reagan was president, making promises he couldn’t keep about taxes and deficits and allowing the readings of a West Coast astrologer to shape his public schedule. The movie 'Wall Street' would soon appear, accurately reflecting the nation’s wholesale acceptance of unrestrained greed and other excesses of the rich and powerful. In neighborhoods through much of black America, crack was taking a fearful toll. Young criminals were arming themselves with ever more powerful weapons, and prison garb was used to set fashion trends."
Indeed, Bob. Claiming that "Trickle-Down Economics" and the wanton deregulation of our markets to favor the wealthiest and the most corrupt would benefit all Americans didn't make it so anymore than Gordon Gekko saying "Greed is good" made it so. Reality wins, and as a result, millions of Americans who bought into the "Morning In American" fairy tale sold by Reagan, himself a grown man who called his wife "Mommy," lost.
Likewise, as we wear the masks and live according to the beliefs created in our childish minds when we were under the duress of the untenable realities of being parented by unactualized adults, we suffer.
"If childhood was a game, you lost!" someone wise once said. It is so. Our parents held almost all the cards because we were totally dependent upon them for survival, emotionally as well as physically. And the reality was that our parents were riddled with so many personality issues and no requirement to do anything about them before or even while having kids, while we, as children, couldn't do anything about our plights. So, to avoid the devastating feelings of loss, we resorted to fantasy. We idealized. We created imaginary friends. (That's clearly what Reagan was to so many - an idealized, imaginary friend who would somehow do everything wrong and magically make it turn out right. Oops! Reality won again, didn't it?)
On this Independence Day, folks, why not celebrate your independence from fantasy and wake up to the freedom of living in reality. It's not about flags or fireworks or hot dogs. It's about freedom. Read the Declaration of Independence today. It's a remarkable document. It's about "Self-Evident Truths."