“One of the major inclinations in every human being is a desire to be deceived. Self-deception is a major disease.” These words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel have rung in my ears from the first time I heard/read them. He said this in an interview with Carl Stern 10 days before his death in 1972. Here we are in 2017 and I am ashamed of how true this statement is today. Rabbi Heschel is one of our greatest teachers in how to BE human and while many people claim him as their teacher, how many of us are living his teachings?
Self-Deception is a major disease today, maybe even more than in 1972! I am beginning a blog on this topic at the direction of my friend and teacher, Rabbi Ed Feinstein. I will be using examples from my life, the lives of family and friends and happenings in the world to illustrate our inclination to be deceived and our own self-deception. Let us begin:
Self-deception is the state of being oblivious to, and afraid of, facing ourselves, facing God, and hearing the call of our soul/higher self. In my years as an alcoholic and criminal, I was afraid to see my true self and the damage I was causing to others. I hid from God by denying that God was concerned with anything I did and, every time I heard/felt the call of my soul- I drank so I wouldn't hear/feel my soul. I deceived myself with so many lies and misstatement of facts that I couldn't tell fact from fiction! I also kept repeating the lies so much that I and many others started to believe them.
This is true for almost all addicts/alcoholics and many, many "normal" people. I have watched families believe the lies they tell themselves and then ask me "how could this have happened to me/my family?" I watch people, in their self-deception, engage in moral equivalency. I watch and hear people, in their self-deception, make stereotypes of people they determine as "other". Slavery, prejudice, hatred, etc. all begin with self-deception. In our self-deception, we believe the lies and deception of another. Rabbi Heschel calls prejudice an "eye disease". Self-deception is also an "eye disease". It is the covering up of the eyes of our soul which tell us truths that we feel/think we need to hide from.
Stay tuned for my next installment on these topics.