Have you ever wondered what Truth has to do with TV game shows? I have.
Follow along, if you will, and I’ll entertain you with what I’ve learned.
It started with an earlier post using as its title the name of a long-running show: To Tell the Truth. I had to wonder, what did Truth mean in this setting?
There, celebrity panelists were challenged to identify one from among three guests. One was authentic, presenting personal facts correctly. The others were impostors who pretended to be the first. Their goal was to deceive the panelists about the Truth.
So Truth was being defined exclusively at the material surface level of the Life Wheel – accurate representation of the facts. Truth of the middle, energy level of the Life Wheel – honesty about feelings and behavior – wasn’t a factor. At a still deeper level, Truth -– meaning honesty about underlying motives — was irrelevant. For impostor guests, lying to hide one’s true identity was highly valued — an accepted part of the game rules.
If you recall, in To Be or Not To Be PC, I used the story-line of Karate Kid III as an example of why awareness on all three levels – three-out-of-three – is essential to survival. In that movie, until the end, Daniel-san fails to understand who is truly his best friend and who is, in fact, his worst enemy.
Judging only from surface appearances, Daniel is deceived into believing Terry Silver is teaching him how to win. What he doesn’t know is that Silver is acting as the agent of an old enemy. This false friend’s underlying, hidden motive is to destroy Daniel as a way to get revenge on Mr. Miagi.
Mr. Miagi, in contrast, appears to be unhelpful, but only because he has Daniel’s best interests at heart. His deepest motive is to protect Daniel, whom he loves as a son.
Now this is an important point for all of us, because the war between Truth v. Deception is pervasive and ongoing. First, we experience conflicts internally. Then, externalized, they are mirrored in the politics of personal relationships, and continue to expand with an ever-broader ripple effect into the conduct of national and global affairs.
I’m not finger pointing. Just saying: For those concerned with survival on any or all of the Life Wheel’s levels, it’s something to think about very very carefully.
Moving on, the second Truth-named game show I’m remembering was called Truth or Consequences. It started as a radio show in the 1940-50s, followed by several television versions into the late 1980’s.
As ominous as the game name sounds, content was strictly light-hearted entertainment, often with an emotional “feel-good” component. Contestants were asked questions of fact –- usually ones with no clear answer. If contestants could not correctly tell the “Truth” in short time, there were “Consequences,” usually involving a hilarious or embarrassing stunt.
In many broadcasts, stunts included a heart-warming surprise for the contestant. It could be a reunion with a long-lost relative or with an enlisted son or daughter returning from military duty overseas. When the military person was based in California, spouse or parents were flown in.
So here again, the game concept of Truth was shallow and incomplete. The idea of Consequences was similarly given short shrift. (For those interested, the Essay on Consequences offers a comprehensive view.)
Next, please stay with me and I’ll take the notion of Truth or Consequences to the next level.
For this, I need to tell you a story from childhood. It images much the same lessons Daniel-san learned the hard way.
The year would have been about 1953. It was after my father died, but before Mom remarried. That made me between six and seven years old. For that short time, we lived in a run-down old apartment building on Buffalo’s show-case Delavan Boulevard.
The incident I’m recalling involved a neighbor lady who lived all alone in an attic-like room on the top floor. To me, she looked very old and seemed terribly sad. Being a friendly and curious kid, I tried to get to know her.
Not so easy. I pestered her with childish questions. She wanted no part of it. Instead of speaking, she diverted my attention, pointing to a chipped and faded plaster-of-Paris nicknack on her shabby dresser that said it all.
I picked it up and examined it closely. On the water-colored figurine sat three monkeys. The first covered its ears with its hands. The second held both hands over its mouth. The third held both hands over its eyes. This motto was carved into the base: “Hear no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil.”
This childhood experience made such a powerful impression because it was loaded with contradictions that left me bewildered. I had no idea what evil was. Why did she feel compelled to point out non-verbally that recognizing it was taboo? Most importantly, why was she so . . . now it seems . . . yes, afraid.
I remembered this experience while writing about Terry Silver’s three rules for winning an unfair fight. He advised Daniel:
- If a man can’t stand, he can’t fight. So break his knees.
- If a man can’t breathe, he can’t fight. So break his nose.
- If a man can’t see, he can’t fight. So gouge out his eyes.
Granted, I appreciate what the monkey prohibitions were getting at originally. It has to do with the meditative discipline of Stillness. If the bans are a warning not to get entangled in negative situations that poison mental clarity, not to speak impulsively or slander others, and not to project dark side urges onto others, then fine. Otherwise not.
First off, humans are not monkeys. Unless drugged, lobotomized or otherwise incapacitated, the faculties of reason and intuition compliment and complete the animal part of our being.
Today, repressing the sensory faculties of awareness is proof of an increasing sense of helplessness. Looking back, I understand that my neighbor lady was telling me without words that her life was unspeakably difficult and painful. She survived by not being aware. The battered wife syndrome fits here, as does the slave mentality – passively accepting an unfulfilling life of toil and misery.
Second, genuine evil does exist. To deny that it does makes one powerless to deal with its effects, opening the door to a world of hurt. I’ve defined what I mean when I use the word elsewhere. Here are quotes:
Evil in Positive Paradigm context is defined as “destructive acts or intentions which violate the integrity of the whole, with the aim of destroying the life pattern itself.”
In Positive Paradigm context, the intentions and actions of any person (or group) that destroys its own and/or threatens to annihilate enemy groups, devoid of respect for the inherent sanctity of life, are defined as evil.
One final point about Truth or Consequences. This article initially came to mind over concern for LinkedIn readers who gladly gobble up superficial articles written by polished prosperity-consciousness authors to promote purchase of their books. In one place, I was actually moved to comment:
I’ve found the formula for this author’s content. To make yourself popular and rich, tell people whatever it is you think they want to hear. End of story.
Was it unkind of me to say this? In the same way Mr. Miagi seemed unkind, maybe so. But I was motivated by good will. I have readers’ long-term interests at heart. I have, for a long time, had a survival issue with gurus who make themselves rich by selling abundance consciousness masked as spirituality. (Sketches below explain why.)
In essence, going full bore for whatever it is you want lacks realistic balance. In a natural world view, there is a time for every purpose under heaven: a time for gain and a time for loss, a time for prosperity in the cycles of history and times of inevitable adversity as well.
Remaining blind to the cycles of history – pretending everything can be however we want it to be because we really really passionately want what we want, is, well . . . unrealistic. In the real world, pretending everything is rosy even when it’s not is disempowering. Buying into the temptation to seemingly pleasant self-deception doesn’t change the way things are. It only renders those who choose to remain unaware at extreme disadvantage, unable to make situation-appropriate, effective decisions.
Put another way, positivity has become the new opiate of the masses. It prevents starry-eyed dreamers from seeing the world as the gravely dangerous place has become. It prevents them from recognizing and responding wisely to protect themselves and those they care for from genuine evil.
Bottom line: What I’m hoping you’ll gather from all this is: 1) Truth embodied as keen, alert awareness on all levels is life sustaining; and 2) today, in the real world, Truth or Consequences is NOT a game. Ignoring the facts as they are, refusing to hear warnings and failing to take positive action is having disastrous CONSEQUENCES.
If you’ll forgive me for repeating myself once again, human survival hangs in the balance. It is that serious.
Just saying. Food for thought.
Although it never happened, I originally planned to expand thumbnail sketches into full chapters to include in a book called Essays on Positive Action. They were written in the year 2000, but are as relevant now as they were earlier. The following four address the prosperity-consciousness issue.
WHO TURNED NAPOLEON HILL UPSIDE DOWN & WHY? At Andrew Carnegie’s request, Attorney Napoleon Hill undertook a 20-year research project to discover the common denominators which explain the effectiveness of highly successful businessmen. The upshot, Think and Grow Rich, has had vast international influence and inspired a small army of imitators to build a lucrative “prosperity consciousness” profession. Perhaps coincidentally (perhaps not), his findings are reminiscent of occult teachings. An organization claiming to further Hill’s work continues to publish new titles using his name, including Napoleon Hill’s Positive Action Plan. Something’s been seriously distorted in the translation.
NATURAL LAW VERSUS UNNATURAL GREED. A host of imitators jumping on the lucrative prosperity consciousness bandwagon, each selling seductive feel-good half-truth formulas for material success, are misdirecting pristine natural law into the twilight zone of insatiable greed. The ancient law is that every extreme changes to its opposite. In The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make and How To Avoid Them, Dr. Freeman correctly observes that “an overdose of positive thinking can produce negative results.” Economic euphoria driven by a misleading paradigm of science at end-century will inevitably cycle past unnatural expansion to opposite and equal contraction in the next millennium.
THE QUESTION DETERMINES YOUR RESULT. “Ask and it shall be answered. Seek and ye shall find” — but only what you have the heart/vision to ask/seek. Ask along with Dale how to win friends and influence people. Ask with Napoleon how to become a millionaire. Ask Deepak how to use spiritual laws to get worldly success. Ask Anthony how to awaken the giant within. But the will of God? To know it? Serve it? Who asks this? Who asks what is right? What is wise? Could current human condition be result of failure to ask wisely? Shallow questions yield paltry results. So in wishing, remember the law of karma and be very careful what you ask for. Long-term payback for greedy goals is frightful to behold.
NO MATTER WHERE YOU START, THE GOAL IS HERE & NOW. Though cultures East and West begin from opposite ends of the planet, in striving for wisdom they join as one at the center of life’s wheel. The financially rich at apex and poor at nadir of life’s arc are same in inner origin and ultimate destination. So also, those of every persuasion who do their best to live with uncompromising courage, heart, wisdom and strength find common home at day’s end. Like Job who endured unimaginable torment but remained steadfast in faith, like Noah who listened and followed through regardless of heedless/scornful contemporaries, those who hold to fast to center actualize promise of safe passage to new beginnings.