Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Why you should choose to live according to rational standards

Contrary to what is commonly predicated, individuals extract massive advantages from telling lies and pretending to be convinced by them. Most people are perfectly conscious of the falsehood of silly social conventions, but still, opt for maintaining those practices.

When corporations adopt unethical policies, experience shows that most employees will shrug their shoulders, and pretend that everything is fine. In those situations, a company's revenue projections will become exaggerated, its profits fake, and its bookkeeping out of touch with reality. A few months later, such company will collapse.

Nonetheless, would you call someone irredeemably evil if he chooses to behave in a manner that allows him to keep his job, at least for a while? It is a fact that millions of men and women are complying daily with questionable demands that they could avoid if they so wished.

Next time, things will be better

This sort of stories appear so frequently in newspapers that we almost take for granted that people will learn from experience. Next time, we tell ourselves, things will be better. After every scandal, we love to believe that manipulations and corruption will not happen again. Unfortunately, our hopes never come true, and shortly after, another scandal comes to light.

What makes human beings engage in such counter-productive behaviour? How is it possible that we devote so much effort to lying to ourselves? The correct answer is not that people are fundamentally evil. The truth is much more complex than that.

There are three reasons that explain why so many individuals are invested in falsehood. Social convenience is the first, since it feels good to belong to the majority. Financial benefit is the second, since those who are accepting to look the other way will be often rewarded by their negligence. The third motive, fear of rejection, is perhaps the strongest.

An almost irresistible appeal

Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, history proves that, in the long run, pretence and manipulation will inevitably destroy those who employ them.

Philosophical and social progress are achieved only little by little, by taking daily steps, but even in the short term, there are clear signs that misrepresentations don't work:
  • Social convenience leads people to repress their best ideas. The habit of seeking conformity at all times deprives men of the strength to speak out their views and pursue their dreams. 
  • The financial benefits of lying, although sweet, tend to be short-lived. Schemes that look too good to be true will typically inflict heavy losses on people who engage in them.
  • In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection are wildly exaggerated. Nowadays, global markets are allowing innovators to find customers across the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by their own family, friends, and neighbours.
Independent thinking is difficult in the face of opposition, so what? Trusting the golden promises of social convenience will always seem the obvious choice at first sight, but blind conformity to other people's irrationalities will simply destroy your life. Choosing to live according to rational standards can prove hard at times, but constitutes the path to success and happiness.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image: photograph of classical painting; photo taken by John Vespasian, 2017.


For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books
 

 
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