Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Big Lie

Many families have a Big Lie, or even several. You know; the thing everyone knows to never mention.

It amounts to a curse placed by elders on their loved ones.

The kids are never directly instructed, because that would require talking about it. So they're forced to glean their marching orders from nonverbal feedback. And they don't know where it ends. The embargo might be about one certain thing - one realm - or it might encompass half the world. They have no way of knowing, because you won't explain, because non-discussion is the whole point.

From the parents' perspective, it's clear enough: simply stay away from this one certain subject. Easy! Aside from that, sure, truth, honesty, and knowing are highly valued. The parents see a crisp boundary.

But the children don't experience this crispness. The Dark Matter feels like an indeterminate blob, and they can only conclude that truth is pliable at best. One can't revere truth while silently harboring falsehood. Parents think they've simply created an exception - a trivial carve-out from the greater good that is Truth. But kids are left wondering where to draw the line. Which way is up, and which way is down?

The inevitable result of Big Lies - in the "micro" of family or the "macro" of nation - is the feeling of living under autocracy, where leaders dictate Truth itself. Life becomes essentially truthless when indeterminate cut-outs silently lurk.

If your family harbors a Big Lie, consider whether its repression is worth cursing your kids to queasy truthlessness. Remember, the cut-out was carved on your terms and you've left them no determinate map. You own the compartmentalization, and while you can easily see its contours, your no-mention policy leaves those around you struggling through a dark maze of indeterminate scope. A gulag.

Consider sitting down your kids (even if they're grown) and finally talking it through. Give them some closure; some sensation of ground beneath their feet; some reassurance that truth isn't an empty affirmation to be sneered at whenever inconvenient. Free them from the gulag, even if the truth is unflattering to you or to the myths that prop up your self-esteem.

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