Phony

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We all know those cheap t-shirts and jeans are produced in sweatshops where people might work 15 hours a day for just a few dollars. And we are also aware that the “people” might be kids. But we conveniently push this to the back of our minds as we grab a handful of clothes we don’t need and buy just because they are cheap – feeding the abuse of millions of workers. Such denial is how we all push our way through life, taking what we can when we can, and to hell with everyone else – especially those kids working in hellish conditions to produce clothes that might titillate for ten minutes because of the low cost.

Since the human-animal exercises very little reason, so it is driven almost exclusively by the survival drive. Cheap clothes mean we keep more of our dollars while putting clothes on our backs. It’s the same with everything else. We use plastic bottles with abandon, we fly to our holiday destinations while polluting the atmosphere, walk past the homeless in the street, overeat while others starve – and so on.

It might sound like I’m being critical – I am not. The behaviors I just listed are the natural outcome of our survival drive. Each one of us thinks we are the center of the universe, and as such, it seems only natural that we should grab as much as we can regardless of the cost to others. But here is the rub – we cannot be honest about what we are. Because of this dishonesty, we are continually surprised by the uncaring and often brutal attitude of others because we never behave like that, of course. As a result of this inner dishonesty, we become phonies pretending that we care when we do not.

The symptoms of phony caring are easy to spot – lots of words but no action. We all frown and express our disgust when a business is found dumping poisonous materials in rivers. Still, we then merrily jet off on holiday and pollute the air, discard plastics carelessly, and generally live on the consumption of energy and materials that guarantees pollution. But this isn’t just about pollution. We can recoil in horror when we see violence on the news or reports of corruption. The violence we indulge in is much less “honest” than open warfare. Maybe we sabotage the reputation of someone we dislike at work, or perhaps we betray the person that is closest to us, or we might tell lies about the quality of a house or car we are selling. It goes without saying that if people were concerned about the homeless, there would be no homeless people.

Phony caring achieves a new level of grotesqueness when we consider commercial and business activities. The “financial advisor” that has no real interest in the returns you might get, or the safety of your investment, but is primarily driven by the commissions they can make. Or big pharma and the health industry advertising how much they care about your welfare – provided you can pay for it. Nearly all businesses create “phony” departments known as sales and marketing. I don’t think I have to go on with this; we know we are all phonies to a greater or lesser degree. Perhaps the greatest frauds of them all are “spiritual” people. They are no different from you or me, but to be spiritual, they have to go into deep denial about their real nature – envy, spitefulness, schadenfreude, pride.

The human-animal will always be a phony. Society as a whole needs to put on a pretty face – to flatter itself. And so each individual feels compelled to go along with the stories that society tells itself – how we are generous, caring, considerate individuals. These stories are necessary so that the mass of people are suitably comforted, even though the stories bear no resemblance to reality. There is no ability to confront the pretty pretensions with the brutal truth consciously, and so the pretense continues, with each person for themselves first of all. For those who are genetically related next and everyone else can go to hell.

Ultimately this is all about honesty, but the human-animal is driven first and foremost by personal gain through achieving a survival advantage. If lies and any type of violence are required to make that advantage, then that is what is used. There will be attempts to “rationalize” – “everyone else does it” – and so on.

Since we are not likely to witness a wholesale change from human-animals to human beings any time soon, it is a good idea to familiarize oneself with the dynamics that are involved in all of this. The irony in all of this is that we all suffer from our phony behavior. Everyone is cheating everyone else. A human being would know this, and collectively people would work, to be honest in their dealings with each other. That the phony behavior is becoming more extreme is well illustrated by the election of heads of state who are unashamed phonies. These people openly boast of their phony behavior – and the masses like it.

In personal dealings, it is straightforward to detect phony behavior. It is well understood that the more gushing a person is when they greet you, the more likely they are to dislike you. The salesperson with the slick manner, the unsolicited touch on the arm, the pretense at humor – all of it phony, and all of it designed to deprive you of something – usually your money.

It would be unwise to expect anything other than phony behavior from people who are driven almost exclusively by the survival drive. This drive is the prime motivator, and any amount of fraudulent behavior will be employed to get what is wanted. The key to dealing with this is to ignore the gestures and words and focus entirely on actions.

By MB

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All is nothingness in the world, including my despair, which any man who is wise but also calmer, and I myself certainly at a quieter time, will see as vain, irrational, and imaginary. Wretched me! Even this pain of mine is vain, nothing. - Leopardi

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