Everyone lies. Sometimes consciously, often reflexively; but some lies almost become necessary to get through the days. For instance we tell ourselves we’re decent human beings…respectable citizens…responsible neighbors…and, blushing a little, a pretty good spouse and parent.
Lies like these may actually do more good than harm. However, there are two lies we repeat to ourselves that may do more harm than good: (1) The young Black Male in America is a lost if not outright dangerous member of society, (2) I have changed over the last 10 years of my life, but I really don’t expect to much anymore over the next 10 years:
* Chances are fearing the young Black Male is a silent given in white America. Unfortunately, not without cause when we are deluged by images of scowling Black rappers, gang members, police lineups, not to mention the Black criminal intents on cop shows night after scary night. However, like all lies, this one ignores the talented Black scholars, athletes, military officers, and musicians who have enriched our history once they escaped the plantations, ghettos and step-n-fetch-it movie caricatures.
* The other great lie we tell ourselves is on ourselves. How we believe what we think and value today will remain very much as is in the future. Yes, we grant having changed over the years but now as adults, “This process which has delivered us to this point is just about complete.”
This last lie [AKA, conclusion] was demonstrated in a new Harvard study of 19,000 people between the ages of 18 and 68 who, “Found it hard to imagine changing as much in their next 10 years as they readily admit they did in their last 10 years.” Project director Daniel Gilbert writes: “We assume at a certain point in our adult life we’ve settled into who we are — our values, preferences, and personalities. It’s our end-of-history illusion in which we’re prone to believe who we are now, we will be through the rest of our lives.Getting a tattoo is a good example!”
Two subjects. Two lies. The lie we tell ourselves about the young Black Male unable to change, and the one we tell ourselves about ourselves no longer likely to change. Perhaps “lie” is too harsh a word; “self deception” gets a little closer. But then we humans are a strange lot, and it’s hard to be sure when we’re lying, deceiving, or just plain getting it all wrong.
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