president ronald reagan, who spent world war two in hollywood,vividly described his own role in liberating nazi concentration camp victims. living in the film world, he apparently confused a movie he had seen with a reality he had not. on many occasions in his presidential campaigns, mr reagan told an epic story of world war two courage and sacrifice, an inspiration for all of us. only it never happened; it was the plot of the movie 'a wing and a prayer' - that made quite an impression on me, too, when i saw it at age 9. many other instances of this sort can be found in reagan's public statements. it is not hard to imagine serious public dangers emerging out of instances in which political, military, scientific or religious leaders are unable to distinguish fact from vivid fiction.
- excerpt from the demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, chapter 8, by carl sagan
i despised reagan. i believe he suffered from all manner of delusion -- and after seeing his life play out, learning about how he eventually suffered from alzheimer's, it's easy for me to imagine that he was more susceptible than, say, i am, to believing he'd lived through something that he had not.
except it's happened to me as well.
i have a friend... who lost a friend who was learning to skydive. the friend was diving paired up with their teacher, as they do on the first jumps, and the parachute failed. my friend described the incident as he witnessed it, in great detail... how the 'chute refused to open, how the teacher panicked while trying (and failing) to free the backup chute, and the terrible tragedy of their falling to the ground.
one day, a few years later, i mentioned that i'd seen the video of the incident as my friend had recorded it as he was diving with them. i remember the images, i remember the motions, i remember the expressions on their faces. i remember everything about that video, except for the fact that it does not exist.
yet, i still swear i've seen the footage.
how many of us cross-check our beliefs, our experiences and our memories? i honestly think i've strived to do so since i was very young, but i know i've failed. even so, at least i was aware of the problem and tried. others don't know the nature of their mind and memories, and others couldn't care less.
our recollections of our experience is forever faulty. our mind doesn't act like a tape-recorder of our lives that we can play back whenever we wish. i wonder, how many of us are living in our own private hallucinations, passionately convinced that we're right and others are wrong?
are you still with me? if you are, yay!
so, you might be thinking that i've come to the conclusion that we should be more accommodating of the viewpoints of others,, and sure, i guess we should, but...
in my lifetime, i didn't have the courage of my convictions. i repeatedly assumed i didn't know enough, or wasn't experienced enough, or was for some or another reason not in a position to have a strongly-held opinion on pretty much anything. oh, i had my private beliefs and passions, but i assumed they were no more or less valuable than others'.
this changed about the time i started this blog seven years ago. now i can no longer muster patience. i've spent too much time and energy being accommodating, and i can't do it anymore. i'm almost 51, and i finally trust myself.
say something i don't agree with, and unless i'm about to faint from fatigue, you'll get an argument from me.
you've got your hallucinations and i've got mine, and mine are right.
♪♫♪ happy blogversary to me ♪♩♬