No one likes reality

When I was reading  Robert Greene‘s “The 48 Laws of Power”, I found the following sentence shocking but hitting the truth.

“The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is so harsh distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert. Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasy of the masses”

I immediately associate with three types of powerful theses that could well match this description: hardcore leftism who deem democracy and universal egalitarianism as the divine code; inveterate right-wing nationalism who wholeheartedly believe the supremacy of one race or one country; and the third type, the fanatic martyrdom who would do anything to ensure their religious thoughts are dominating.

The rest of people, mostly being ordinary emotional not so intelligent mortals, appeal to those three thoughts as means to avoid the insurmountably harsh reality. A leftist hates to see there are always big power trampling weak “victims”; nationalist hate to see leftists are victimizing and empowering the inferior groups that they see as unwanted and disposable residues; a martyr hates to see there are actually other competing doctrines and infidels existing in the world. However, those denial thoughts stride by addressing the mass emotional defiance to the reality instead of enlightening people of what it is really going on in the end. A realist would not be the most popular kid in the block.

But does all this matter when an individual being one would never have the power to turn the tide. Who could get rid of all those gay leftist ideologies? Who would achieve absolute equity and fully functional democracy? Not to mention the possibility to make one’s  religion surpassing everyone else. Certainly some goals probably appear easier than others. But there is still virtually insignificant amount of chance to make it actual happen. Hit the bottom, don’t hate me, hate the reality.

Then what’s the point of not holding some sort of silly stubbornness and hoping for the mirage to actually become an oasis, which makes our life “meaningful”? First it is stupidity to believe it something out of one’s wishful thinking and it serves no meanings to one’s actual living conditions. Second, there’s plenty of other things that are worth digging I would say. This is when pragmatism kicks in: since the world is pretty messed up as it is, we might as well just play the role to get the best out of it. Money, women, family, kids, land, food, diamonds, gold, security, fame, power, whatever this is intrinsically attractive to you and also attainable based on your personal strength, don’t hesitate to pursue it. Sure if you plan to go against the legal system you are under much higher risk of failure, but it’s worth trying if you want it so badly.

My understanding is, reality is something one could only keep to himself and know how to react accordingly to optimize his utility. If you have the openness to stop believing what you emotionally attach to, start questioning about the real point of keeping those “principles”. As far as I could see, this world is NOT running because of some principles and moral codes.

No one likes reality, but we could perhaps start to be optimistic by appreciating reality and adjusting our own behaviors.

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5 comments

  1. You may find that maximizing your personal utility in regards to, “Money, women, family, kids, land, food, diamonds, gold, security, fame, power.” That was the case for me, once you get a taste of “the good life” you find it really isn’t an fulfilling as you think it is.

    I don’t think everyone feels that way, I believe most people are natural sociopaths that have no concept of super ego. If you can be fulfilled by such things go ahead, you would have plenty of company. If such things can fulfill you by all means focus on them.

    If they do not then you have to face the world. One way is the grand fantasies you mentioned. Another is to face the world as it is in all its cruelty, futility, and truth. Yet still press forward with moral action in spite of it, because moral action in itself is fulfilling, and elevates you as a man.

    1. I’d agree with most of what you said. The “money, women, family, kids, land, food, diamonds, gold, security, fame, power” is just an illustration to the most immediate desire a person could possible have. I won’t say people could be satisfied with those objectives, it is rather the process of pursing those “proposed” objectives that fulfill people. And that’s basically what I mean here.

      The thing about morality is that it involves projecting your own judgement on others. Frustrations emerge when it happens. No one thinks exactly alike. Having said that, I do believe there are people who are completely fulfilled by the process of his/her moral actions. It’s a noble thought, and I would very much love to see that happens more often. But as mentioned before, reality sucks and rationality tells us the efforts of pursing your own morality trying to be the ultimate savior is futile. I could only see the increase of frustration in the pursuit of moral actions, rather than satisfaction. However, who am I to say such things, for a person who never really believes religion after all.

  2. I don’t really think you get it, but its something that can’t be explained. For some people both those things and the pursuit of those things just aren’t enough. Moral action is a necessity, its not a choice. Its like needing air to breath, without morality you will suffer asphyxiation.

    Recently I was white water rafting and our boat flipped over and I got stuck under it. I popped my head up several times only to have it hit down by the boat. It was very frustrating, for a moment I thought I would never get up above the water to take another breath. But the alternative was to drown, so I kept trying till I did. I didn’t have a choice, whether I thought I would escape or not.

    For some, morality is the only thing that keeps them above water. Money, women, power, all of these things are poor flotation devices. I take moral action because my soul cries out in pain to do otherwise, I can’t be fulfilled without it.

    1. Of course morality could be explained. As far as I could see it, morality is pre-programmed logic that enlarge the survival chance of our own DNA and others who carry similar gene. Its an instinct in some sense, a highly-developed instinct that we justify as inexplicable emotion.

      Morality is indeed a necessity. It is a necessary condition to fulfill people, but it’s far from being sufficient. Maybe I should rephrase what I said in the previous reply, I was referring to situation of those who deem morality as the sufficient condition for fulfilling one’s life, which I consider rather pointless. As you said, ethics is a necessity, I said it’s a pre-programmed logic, it is not something that one’s should particularly pursue in my opinion. The whole idea of taking ethics into consideration is to NOT make one feel bad about himself. Of course there are people who magnify such actions as if it were the only sufficient condition to fulfill one’s life, such as most of prominent religious figures. To me, I just don’t see the point of it, as I tend to rationalize everything in every move. The bottom line is everyone all has a very short and uncertain period of life span. I would always have my morality, but to amplify it thousand times to be the sufficient fulfilling criteria for life is much less cost-effective than aiming other tangible targets.

      It’s not like people who ultimately pursue power don’t have moral actions, it’s always there. But to connect with the cruel reality, I’d say define your morality to a personal level. Never abuse your emotion.

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