Ignorance and Fantasy

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					Ignorance and Fantasy

Word Count:
1046

Summary:
How does one grow from self-deception or wishful thinking to self-
awareness and courage in the act of facing reality and turning it to good
account? In exploring this question with me, perhaps you will find some
answers that will help you climb a few rungs on the ladder to happiness.


Keywords:
ignorance, fantasy, beliefs, innocence, happiness, dreams, knowledge,
faith, love, kindness, selfishness, relationship


Article Body:
Are beliefs not often the children of ignorance and fantasy? Consider the
heavenly view of the world that young souls entertain at the height of
their innocence, when their youth has been surrounded by love and filled
with happiness. Hear their laughter. Dreams expand in a vacuity of
knowledge like a laughing gas and induce the blindest, the purest joy.

Ignorance is bliss, as they say, because it spares us the mental
restraints associated with knowledge (which reveals the limits of reality
and hence the impossibility of our fantasies). It is the ultimate
playground where the mind can build castles in the air, create a
wonderland, and live delightedly in this kingdom of reverie. It paves the
way for the reign of error, as it leaves us to believe whatever we like.
Everything that is desirable is realizable, if not real, until we find
evidence to the contrary. Santa Claus eventually dies of our old age –
when we are no longer so young, so green, that we are easily fooled by a
tall story.

In truth, however wise we may be, we are still at risk. We spontaneously
indulge in fantasies about the world here below, which is never totally
known, or the beyond, which is unknowable. We are always tempted to
believe that our health, our relationships, our career, or any other part
of our life, will be wonderful, or that our death will not be an end, but
a passage from here to a paradisal hereafter. This temptation is
irresistible for many when they discover a charismatic fortuneteller or
spiritual leader who professes this belief, which remains unproven
nonetheless. Our believing is then the result of ignorance and fantasy,
plus faith.

An example of self-deceit that concerns young idealists and betrays their
warm-blooded aspiration for perfect love is the illusive passion they
often experience toward attractive members of the opposite sex whom they
little know. By perfect love I mean a complete and durable harmony at
every level – physical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual –
between two lovers. It involves friendship to a high degree, as the words
“girlfriend” and “boyfriend” suggest. While it includes lust, it
transcends and transfigures it.

Pop songs are common vehicles for this ideal, which entices many young
souls. I am thinking of young men in particular, who are usually quick to
fantasize about pretty young women and fall madly in love with them, or
rather with a fantastical image of them. This quickness is typical of
their ardent and imprudent youth. It needs nothing more than a few smiles
and nods, a few gracious words of agreement, to make these young men
imagine they have found a soul mate, as they pour out their inner self –
their sense of what is good, true, right, or sacred. A few auspicious
signs and, voilà, they take the pretty young women for dream girls and
are besotted with them! A few misleading signs, in fact. Every charm
hides a cause for alarm.

If, in the struggle for survival and happiness, society is a cure for
individual limitations (an imperfect cure to be sure, with side effects),
it is also a pill hard to swallow. Civility is a smooth sugar coating
that eases the swallowing. Give thanks to those who phrase their
discontentment with delicacy and embellish it with a compliment and an
encouragement. No nagging, no gagging. Sometimes civility excludes
honesty and amounts to well-meaning or self-serving hypocrisy. It turns
into servility through a mix of kindness and weakness, or through pure
selfishness. One way or another, some people are fooled, kept in the
dark, while they should live wisely, in the light of knowledge. They are
denied truth: the opportunity to conceive of their true situation and
achieve their true purpose.

Young men, among the fantasizers I referred to earlier, are often lured
by the social graces of pretty young women. The poor fish take the hook
and eventually discover they have made a mistake, like many others in the
same boat. The dream girls were ordinary maidens or vixens who first
behaved and talked infinitely sweet, and later proved lovable in a
limited way or revealed their sour temper.

A long intimacy is a good test of a couple's true nature. It always
strips relationships of the silky appearance they sometimes have
initially, when seduction overrides every other consideration. This
appearance is superficial and deceptive like the outer layers of an
onion. Once it is removed, after a succession of changes that marked a
gradual return to naturalness, conflicts arise. The truth is uncovered;
tears are shed.

Many young fantasizers part from their lovers at this point. They embark
on another relationship until the next disillusion, the next dissolution,
then embark on another relationship, and so forth. They do the same in
other areas of life, starting this or that with high expectations and
quitting upon the first difficulties, time and again. They never settle
for less than perfection; they never build anything to speak of.

Some of these fantasizers stop this nonsense after a number of
disappointments and finally change into brave realists. Their bravery
distinguishes them from other disenchanted souls who give up hope to give
in to laziness with a clear conscience. These defeatists confuse their
attitude with realism and suffer nullity or mediocrity rather than fight
for excellence, which is possible, unlike perfection. In their view,
humans are in their element only when fantasizing, like fish when
swimming. In fact, humans – who are adaptable – are closer to amphibians
than to fish. They can come back to earth without dying of frustration,
and even better, with a chance to live happily, thanks to a blend of
struggle and resignation that yields joy and serenity.

Brave realists know and accept the conditions and limitations of
happiness. They think it all the more precious as it has a high cost and
is bound to be lost sooner or later. They also understand that although
one may indulge in a fickle existence for a while, one must eventually
commit and apply oneself to a particular relationship, study, or career,
in spite of imperfections and difficulties, if one wishes to achieve
something worthy of mention. Nothing good can come from a search for
better that always leaves one thing for another.