A Species In Denial
Page 21 of
Print Edition Introduction
The elephant in our living rooms
Were someone to tell you that humans are unaware of something so significant in their lives that it is the equivalent of them not noticing an elephant in their living room, you would be likely to say they were being absurd. If you were also told that this ‘elephant’ was the underlying cause of all the problems and unhappiness in the world you would no doubt be even more disbelieving. And you would undoubtedly be totally dismissive if you were told humans can now rid themselves of this all-pervasive and troublesome ‘elephant’.
Well, the existence of this ‘elephant in our living room’ is actually true. It is also true that it is the cause of all our fears and worries. In fact this ‘elephant’ stands squarely between where humanity is now and a future for humanity, if there is to be one. Astonishingly enough, it is also true that this mammoth impediment can now be eliminated from human life.
Incredulous as you may be, I and others who have been studying these ideas, know from experience with what is to be presented in this book that before you have finished reading the first few pages you will already have a strong intimation that this ‘elephant’ does indeed exist—and that by the time you have read 10 pages you will be deeply aware of its existence. In fact, after 30 pages you will be saying to yourself that, ‘this is all too true for comfort’. Despite the discomfort, after 60 pages, you will be starting to see how we can at last expunge this monstrous problem from human life.
You are about to embark on a journey where humans have never been able to venture before, right into the very heart of the issue of Page 22 of
Print Edition what it is to be human. It is a truly astonishing journey, and it is exciting—but it is also deeply unsettling; so much so that it will demand all of your courage and capacity for perseverance. Indeed, someone who read the draft of this book said, ‘You should call this book The Truth—If You Want It, because people are going to start reading the book and discover it really is the truth about humans, and they might well find that it is too much for them to cope with, that they prefer to stay living in denial of the truth.’ Retreating to denial will, without doubt, be an initial response for many people. However, it will be a temporary reaction. After some time walking around with the knowledge that, while humans have had no choice up until now other than to live in an extraordinarily dishonest, superficial and, ultimately, humanity-destroying state of denial, knowing that such an existence is no longer necessary, and, furthermore, knowing that living that way is now both pointless and irresponsible, they will return to the book and say, ‘Let’s get on with the task of facing the truth’. Or, if they are not able to confront the truth about humans themselves, they will realise that now that the truth has at last emerged all they have to do is support it over their inclination to live in denial of it, and in time humanity will be free from the denial, and from all the resultant suffering. At last somewhere on Earth the truth about humans exists, it is simply a matter of people defending it now and in time humanity will be free of its immense historic psychosis.
As mentioned, once the truth about humans has emerged denial becomes a pointless, futile occupation. No matter how much the practitioners of the denial try to maintain it, once the truth is out the denial has lost its power. In Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fable, the Emperor’s New Clothes, once the child broke the spell of the deception—pointed out that the emperor was indeed naked—the whole edifice of deception crumbled. A person cannot very well think or say or write anything from a basis of denial that has now lost its currency. Once obsolete, the strategy of denial inevitably becomes ineffective as a strategy for living. As the Jesuit priest and philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, said, ‘the Truth has to appear only once…for it to be impossible for anything ever to prevent it from spreading universally and setting everything ablaze’ (Let Me Explain, 1966; trs René Hague & others, 1970, p.159 of 189).
Further, the overall reality is that if humanity is to avoid self-destruction it has nowhere else to go but through the doorway of honesty. Page 23 of
Print Edition The situation is that the truth about humans now exists on Earth, the spell is broken, the hold that humans’ entrenched and once-necessary denial has had over humans is over. The ‘elephant’ is exposed. The truth is out. The ‘game is up’.
The benefit of persevering with this journey of discovering what it really is to be human will be to arrive at a state of extraordinary freedom. It has to be immediately emphasised that this is not the sort of feel-good freedom that New Age and ‘self-improvement’ gurus promote through artificial forms of motivational reinforcement gained, for instance, from repeating mantras that ‘you have every right to love yourself’, and the like. Nor is it the reinforcement and comfort humans have long derived from religious faith and belief. This is a freedom achieved through being able to at last understand human nature, understand ourselves. It is not dependent on dogma or belief; in fact this ability to understand ourselves brings such a fundamental freedom to the human situation that it takes humans beyond the state where they need dogmatic forms of reinforcement and religious faith and belief. What is to be introduced is a scientific explanation, that is, first principle-based knowledge, but it is science of the most profound form; knowledge that so deeply penetrates the human situation, so completely ends human insecurity, that it actually ends the need for any dogma, mysticism, superstition or abstract metaphysics. It demystifies the concepts in religion and deciphers our myths. The whole human situation will at last be clarified. This is Page 24 of
Print Edition an astonishing claim, but nevertheless before you have read many pages into this book you will be discovering that it is true.
At the core of the issue of what it is to be human lies a subject that humans have traditionally found impossible to confront. It is this all-important yet unconfrontable subject that is the ‘elephant in our living room’. While it is the core, all-important issue that must be addressed if the truth about humans is to be uncovered, it is nevertheless an issue that has been so deeply distressing and depressing that for almost 2 million years humans have had no choice other than to live in almost complete denial of it. In fact so dominating has this practice of denial been in human life that if there were any enlightened intelligence in outer space it would likely regard us as ‘that species that is living in denial’. Indeed humans live in such denial and, as a result, are separated from their true situation and true selves to such an extent, that we could also be known throughout the universe as ‘the estranged or alienated ones’.
The question then is, what is this overwhelmingly daunting subject, this ‘elephant in our living room’, that at a conscious level humans are almost totally unaware of? It is the subject of the human condition.
So daunting has this subject of the human condition been that we have rarely ever referred to it. For example, while ‘human nature’ appears in dictionaries, ‘human condition’ never does. Only in moments of extreme profundity did we even mention the topic, and even then it was only ever a glancing reference. For example, in the mission statement of a philanthropic organisation in America called the Fetzer Foundation there are lofty words about the foundation’s dedication to research, education and service, and spliced in amongst them are these words: ‘as we press toward unique frontiers at the edge of revolutionary breakthroughs in the human condition’. Humans have lived in such deep denial of the issue of the human condition that when they encounter the term ‘human condition’ many think it refers to the state of poverty or disease that afflicts much of humanity. If you search ‘human condition’ on the Internet most references interpret it as being to do with humans’ physical predicament rather than with humans’ psychological predicament, which, as will become clear, is its real meaning.