Realities and Illusions

This past month I’ve come across five quotes with similar themes.  I’d like to share them with you and ask you to seriously think about what they might mean to you.

It is faith which moves mountains because it gives the illusion that mountains move… Illusion is perhaps the only reality in life.

The truth deserves a bodyguard of lies.

Those are my principles and if you don’t like them…well, I have others.

Much of what we deal with in counseling has to do with discriminating between reality and illusion, and our wishes about what could be or should be.  This is particularly true when working with couples because the relationship is influenced by what’s in the recesses of each person’s private thoughts, their fantasies, and what their personal history has taught them to believe about themselves.

We (and our relationships) are often limited by who we believe ourselves to be.  Sometimes we simply prefer our own descriptions of personal reality. But those beliefs can be walls barring future growth.

I believe God created us to seek more deeply and to go beyond our walls, self-deceptions and illusions of what seems to be.  The quotes above have a certain cynical wisdom to them in that they suggest we prefer not to know the truth.

That thought is captured best in my fourth quote from Jack Nicholson’s character, Col. Nathan Jessep, in A Few Good Men. In his famous courtroom speech he said “You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls.”

Of course, Jessep was right.  Those walls may be our own illusions, which protect us as surely as Jessep self-righteously thought he was doing.  These quotes speak a limited truth, though.

Walls, illusions, and self-deceptions confine us as well as protect us.  History seems to show that walls or defenses can go up, sometimes for very, very good reasons. But, in safer times we must tear them down, in order to grow freedom within and between others.  Bringing down walls requires courage and strength of heart.  Realities can and do change.  We can protect ourselves not only with self-perpetuating lies, illusions, and endless adaptations of principle, but also with our truth and with our dreams.

A last quote:

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Were you wondering who we were quoting?   The first quote is from Benito Mussolini.  The second, from Winston Churchill.  The third, from that cynical observer of the human condition, Groucho Marx.  And lastly, Eleanor Roosevelt.