I do like that word denier. Its principal meaning, of course, is “one who refuses or rejects a particular assertion or proposition.” Its other meaning is about the fineness of the threads in a garment. Are there any other words with two completely disconnected meanings, according to context? Anyway, on to the main event.
John Wilder has proposed that all our economic problems are based on the denial of reality. His essay is rather discursive, and I shan’t say more about it here, except to ask: is there any sort of problem that doesn’t have the denial of reality as its root cause?
Take a minute over that while I fetch more coffee.
When a problem is identified as flowing from politics or government, a little research is all that’s needed to find someone in the edifice of the State trying to deny reality – or trying to get you to deny it. Pick one. Use your favorite. Trace it backward, toward its origin. If you can’t find someone straining to advance a counterfactual proposition, alert me at once!
When a problem is personal in nature – some unhappy-making aspect of an individual’s circumstances – an attempt to act as if reality is other than it is can almost always be found somewhere in the mix. You’re fat? Whom shall we blame for that: you, for eating everything you see, or the manufacturers and retailers of spoons? You’re lonely? Might it be because of your repulsive personality, rather than a conspiracy to deprive you of companionship? You’re broke? What else would a spendthrift like you expect?
(Yes, there are a few personal problems that aren’t the fault of the sufferer, such as being ugly or deformed. But I did say “almost always.”)
I could go in in this vein. I could talk about transgenderism, or the destruction of the dollar, or the “beautiful at any size” movement. I could point to how the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” hawkers all seem to live in all-white neighborhoods, many in gated and heavily patrolled communities. I could note what’s happening to our military as it absorbs and embraces the “woke” virus and donates all its weaponry to the Taliban and Ukraine. But I think the point has been made.
Reality’s laws are self-enforcing. We don’t know them in their fullness, but we know they exist and are unbreakable. Thus, denying any aspect of reality must lead, eventually if not immediately, to pain, frustration, sorrow, and – in the best case – repentance.
This is hardly a “deep” subject. Indeed, there’s no topic that’s shallower. But it seems particularly apposite on Ascension Thursday in this Year of Our Lord 2023. What is, is. Our power to change what is, though impressive, has limits. As I’m about to leave for Mass, rather than beat this into the magma, allow me to close with a passage from Frederic Bastiat’s pamphlet The Law:
My attitude toward all other persons is well illustrated by this story from a celebrated traveler: He arrived one day in the midst of a tribe of savages, where a child had just been born. A crowd of soothsayers, magicians, and quacks — armed with rings, hooks, and cords — surrounded it. One said: “This child will never smell the perfume of a peace-pipe unless I stretch his nostrils.” Another said: “He will never be able to hear unless I draw his ear-lobes down to his shoulders.” A third said: “He will never see the sunshine unless I slant his eyes.” Another said: “He will never stand upright unless I bend his legs.” A fifth said: “He will never learn to think unless I flatten his skull.”
“Stop,” cried the traveler. “What God does is well done. Do not claim to know more than He. God has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”
What God does is well done. He who learns this, and moreover learns to love it and Him, has the best chance of happiness in this life.
Ignore the soothsayers, magicians, and quacks. Ignore the “Baghdad Bobs” employed by the State. Ignore the media, when they attempt a coordinated strike against what you can see with your own eyes. Ignore your neighbor, if and when he attempts to press a falsehood upon you. Even ignore your spouse and kids, when they demand, as spouses and children so often do, that you act against the reality of your situation.
Reality isn’t just a concept. Enjoy it. And do have a nice day.