©2020 C. Henry Martens
Human beings look for patterns. We recognize correlations. We are designed by evolution to watch the tall grasses waving in the breeze and see the anomaly as a predator disturbs the mosaic. We see, we notice the anomaly when a waving seed head moves against the wind and does what ten million others do not.
Awareness is a tool of survival. We are bred to be conscious of our surroundings… and when we take note, we are fashioned by natural selection to look for reasons. We want to know whether the odd movement in the grass is a creature of tooth and claw, or something else.
And sometimes we invent what isn’t there. Occasionally, we see the grass move when there is no grass.
It is no surprise that human beings have made a science of manipulating other human beings by preying on their fears and desires… intentionally separating people from their reason. Whenever it takes a majority to sway a vote or control an outcome, there are people willing to throw just enough truth out there to appear to be an authority, and once they have hooked the gullible, they reel the listeners in and feed them what the speaker wants them to believe. They establish patterns in the grass, and skillfully weave barely perceptible nuances into the wind, changing perceptions of what lies beneath the surface.
Once a person is convinced, once a person believes there is a tiger in the grass, then it becomes ever more effortless to stir the affected person to action.
“It’s COMING for US!”
And we RUN!!!
And even if no tiger appears, and perhaps especially if no tiger appears, we become invested in our panic because… after all, we don’t want to appear silly. We don’t want to have others think we have been foolish. If we admit we were mistaken, the rest of those who ran with us may see us as traitors. And those who didn’t run will be confirmed in their beliefs that we were being rash. They might even think we were being manipulated, and we can’t have that.
Better to be watchful.
Surely, there is another tiger out there.
There must be.
And this is the problem with conspiracy. We can’t be wrong if we believe in them… and we can’t be right if we disbelieve. Because they ARE out there. There ARE tigers in the grass.
If we don’t like the science that tells us ice is melting in the Arctic, then we can question the scientists and their motives. It doesn’t matter if glaciers are disappearing and oceans are rising as long as we can cast a shadow on people being paid to write scientific articles.
Who is paying them? What relationships do they have? Were they promoted? Did someone fund their research? Did they receive tenure? Who benefits? And most important… what are my tribal affiliations and what is acceptable to them? No… WAIT… most important is what does the other tribe support… and if they think something is legitimate, I am obligated to automatically take the opposite side… right?
IT’S ALL SO BLACK AND WHITE!!!
And then of course there is coincidence. Once we see the grass move in odd ways, it is easy to imagine the grass is moving in unnatural ways. It is easy to see relationships in things that we never noticed before, whether they are legitimate or not. It’s like buying a car and suddenly seeing a lot of cars just like the one we bought. This kind of thing makes it easy to invent self-fulfilling suspicions. We start to believe everything we think.
So, conspiracy works. The manipulators of truth talk, and we listen. And then we vote.
Three trillion dollars? Sure! Why not? Just print some bills and send it out. As long as we can get vote-by-mail approved before the election.
The funny thing is… that there is a real world out there. A world where ice melts and aquifers get drained and krill die off and plant agriculture destroys soil and insects are poisoned and birds are declining and cows are blamed for producing methane even when they are a net benefit to the planet.
There ARE tigers in the grass.
There ARE planes flying into towers.
There ARE people that can’t breathe.
There ARE aliens among us.
But somehow, we are ignoring the problems that are most important, because it would cost too much to recognize those problems.
Three TRILLION dollars to… (is it to buy an election or get mail-in voting… I’m confused), but we can’t build desalination plants as our rivers fail to reach the oceans? We can’t build cars that weigh a thousand pounds and get three hundred miles on a charge and have batteries that we can exchange instead of waiting for a charge? We can’t build small and more efficient nuclear plants, learning from past mistakes?
What’s distracting us?
The tigers in the grass.
And in the meantime, the churches and big business and political parties continue to encourage us to breed like rabbits… at least if we are members or have credit cards. Numbers are power. People with relationships are easier to manipulate.
So how do we separate fact from fantasy?
How do we tell the difference between a tiger’s paw and a random breeze?
I’d suggest we look deep into ourselves first and check our perceptions of reality. If there isn’t some kind of physical evidence we understand… then maybe we should pull back and reserve judgment. Question authority… especially those with political or financial agendas.
If we don’t really see a tiger, don’t make it our business to follow the herd.