Story time in The Children’s Encyclopedia by Arthur Mee; just a short one from Volume 5, p.3495:
A Brahmin had been to a town to buy a goat for sacrifice, and was returning with it on his shoulders when he was seen by three rogues, who determined to obtain his goat.
They ran ahead of him, and seated themselves at the foot of three trees.
“Why do you carry that dog, master?” said the first. The dog, it must be understood, is regarded as an unclean animal by the Brahmins.
“Dog!” was the indignant reply. “It is no dog at all, but a goat!”
The Brahmin came to the second rogue, who made the same remark. This time the Brahmin too the goat from his shoulder, looked closely at it, and replacing it, proceeded on his journey.
But when yet a third man said the goat was a dog the Brahmin doubted the evidence of his own eyes, threw down the pollution of the supposed dog, and hurried off home. The three rogues then seized their prey, and cooked and ate it.
[Moral:] Be on your guard against rogues.
This short story made me consider how we are deceived by others and the world around us. People can intentionally deceive us but ideally we can recognise when someone is trying to pull the wool (or fur) over our eyes. We also intentionally deceive others, after all, “people” and “ourselves” are one and the same. The story above shows how if a lie is repeated often enough then it can be believed; this happens not only when others lie to us so successfully, but when we delude ourselves, such as when we lose ourselves to something false that we have been portraying with enough conviction and for long enough.
I originally included more if’s and when’s in that above paragraph, but it seems to me that deception is part of our human nature, at least until we might evolve past it.
The above short tale reminds me of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, that too being based on a journey, perhaps a life’s journey and of the pitfalls, obstacles and deceptions we face along the way.
Not all lies are told intentionally, or a deception may be carried out unintentionally or with the lie being the side-effect of some ulterior-motive. Something can be told by someone lost on their way/in their ways and based on their reality as they see it. Again, there is no distinction between others and ourselves. Such deceptions can run very deep indeed; there might have been an initial intentional deception that got believed and then others followed suit by echoing it without realising it was false.
On a personal level I notice how I might not say something truthfully, but not realise until I later reflect upon it; a friend might ask how I am and I might reply with a positive remark while the truth is otherwise but I had grown so used to replying in a positive tone just to keep the peace, or not bring a downer on their day, or because I wanted to believe the positive remark was the truth as it usually might be, and I may have done this so often that when the truth is otherwise I may not realise until I’ve repeated the phrase I always give*. Thankfully in this example I had the opportunity to reflect on it, but what of the times that slip my attention? What of the times when we give no second thought to what we’re actually saying? And thus the non-truth echoes on unchecked.
*living on autopilot – don’t do it!
Could how the world operates be like this? Flat-earthers would say so, religions can also be questioned with this idea, our incessant call to and the threat of war, money and how having more of it will make us happy. How music, movies, games, and books are just here to entertain us,* how stuff in supermarkets that is wrapped in plastic is food, that technology is the future and how having our homes filled with electronic devices is not harmful to us and ensures we are a part of that future, everyone has to go to school, be immunised against diseases, must drive a car to get to where we’re going, is where we’re heading really where we want to be?… Is what we believe now based on a multitude of lies told long ago? Really we can question everything. Of course lies may have been intentional, or not; perhaps someone miscalculated something along the way or misinterpreted evidence; like evidence of WMDs, and then that lie, or whatever it was, got believed and now generations later here we are; our whole world system built upon this vast pyramid of non-truths.
*I’ve been seeing how such things as movies and books are other’s portrayals of the world, of their world, or of the common world, perhaps how others want us to see it; a world where most are kept entertained by such things, or rather, distracted. Distracted from the truth, or diverted away from the opportunity to figure out the world on our own; to really question how we actually see it; maybe our eyes are closed while we believe they are open.
I found a “3D Animated” version of the Brahmin’s tale, although the moral given at the end of that is instead “Trust yourself before you trust others.” Surely one has to first learn to “know thyself”. A consideration with this version is, do such 3D animations paint a false and delusional view of the world for children, a topic I have raised before, or is it no more fanciful than what may perhaps be the real world if it too is a simulation…