Good evening Elaine, Attie and my fellow peers. We are born to deny reality. Let me explain… If you doubt that we’re born to deny reality, you’re actually proving the point. The evidence is indisputable that we human beings have built-in reality buffers. We smoke, drink, overeat, waste resources and engage in every possible kind of risk-taking activity, oblivious to or disregarding the likely results of our actions.
At the core of our tendency to deny reality is the barefaced inevitability of our own death. Unless we are threatened with imminent annihilation or given a short time to live, we are predisposed to perceive of the future as something open-ended and unlimited, regardless of our age. We are loath to admit our existence is finite.
Some of us are so sensitive about the subject of death that people or practices that appear to be different from the familiar give us pause. We reject otherness, change and uncertainty because they represent the possibility of our demise. Thousands of religious belief systems exist throughout the world, and yet the adherents within each of them resolutely believe that theirs is the only correct worldview. Similarly, conspiracy theorists prefer to believe in string-pulling manipulation by powerful forces rather than accept the frightening prospect that no one is in control.
Looking deeply into our existential predicament is a sobering experience. Our sun is a second-rate star in a modest galaxy, where no one thing or location can be deemed more important than any other — with the exception of those upon whose light and gravity we depend. The earth is hurtling through space at thousands of miles per hour and appears to be headed nowhere in particular. The same analogy applies to our lives as individuals. We represent an amalgamation of biology, culture, time and place, with no particular significance attributable to any of these components. The only thing that is special about any of us is our...
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