The Storytellers Lies

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

“I could no longer discern what was real and what was fake. Everything, including the present, seemed to be both too much and nothing at all.” ― Clemantine Wamariya, The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After

I enjoy a good conspiracy theory but it better be well thought out. If there are holes, I will find them and playtime is over. I love a good game of ‘what if’ that’s played for funsies but never taken too seriously. The grassy knoll. Area 51. Did Hitler really kill himself or did Odessa help him escape to Argentina? Oh, the possibilities are endless but here’s a question: If any of these are true, then what? Do we change history, rewrite it, or let it ride? If the past changes, does it change our future? Does a paradigm shift alter the course of our species or is our path locked?

Oh, once you pop, you can’t stop. 

Theories, stories, or flights of fancy? They’re bizarre enough to make me stop and think things through in a new, often weird, way but it’s a fun mental workout on a stationary bike. Work out those muscles, get the blood pumping, but be careful. A strained muscle is a bad thing, and straining this particular muscle can be dangerous. Take some breaks. Drink some water. Go outside, in accordance with health guidelines, and get some fresh air. It’s important, vital even because once you get going, the brakes just might fail. 

Pull one thread and another one rolls off into a lonely, dark, dank concrete bunker. There are spider webs and a distant drip, drip, drip of water from a leaking pipe. Smell that? Yeah, I think it’s mold. Door hinges groan and squeak. A loud clunk. The door is closed. Try to push it open, but it won’t budge. There’s no way out! Why did I follow that damn string? Why?

It’s one thing to look back at history and question the stories we’ve been told. History, as they say, is written by the winners so maybe we don’t know the whole story. Asking questions, digging a little deeper, is better than blindly following the status quo. Imagine what we could learn if we asked more questions!

On the other hand, what do we do when people start questioning our present-day realities? That’s a different story, isn’t it? It seems like everyone has an agenda and they’re all pointing fingers at the one person, or group, they believe is at fault. We all seem to believe that someone has to be at fault because without someone to blame the world becomes an even scarier place.

Except, the world becomes a scarier place when we divide ourselves into opposing factions. Yelling at each other instead of listening. Pointing guns at each other because a show of strength, combined with the raised voices, adds gravitas to our righteous indignation. Rights! I have rights! We scream over and over. One person’s rights have become more important than the community. Now we’re all running scared because who’s rights will win out?

Yours? Mine? The one neighbour down the street who thinks the squirrels in his backyard are reincarnated relatives? How about the rights of one government, country, religion? What if that religion, country, or government isn’t your own? Do they still have the right to tell you what to do with your life or your body?

It’s all well and good, defending our rights until our rights don’t line up and then the conspiracy theories start brewing. It’s easier to point fingers at an organization, religious group, political party, or ethnic group than diving into a very messy reality. A clear target is more reassuring than the ghosts floating around somewhere out there. At least, with something we can see, we can defend ourselves and save the lives of people we love. 

Even if that means killing someone else? Even if that means we die? Do either of us have to die? Huh…There’s a head-scratcher! I’ve asked this before, but I haven’t gotten an answer so let’s ask it again: What’s the magic number? How many people have to die before we say, uncle? A hundred thousand dead. One million dead. What’s the magic number here? What will we accept and what will be a step too far?

You’re going to call me a snowflake for saying this but, as far as I’m concerned, one death is one too many. I’ve buried a lot of friends, and each of them was worth saving. Each of them was loved, needed, and are sorely missed. Losing them? A very small part of this world is worse off without them in it. 

Look around at the people you love. Which one would you sacrifice for your theory or your rights? Which one are you willing to gamble? I’m willing to bet your part of this world would be worse off without each of them. Then again, maybe your right to a hair cut is worth the risk? That’s a question only you can answer, so God bless and good luck.

As for me? I believe in science, facts, and logic that’s been put to the test. Sure, it’s not above reproach and mistakes happen. Science doesn’t have all the answers. They say, “I don’t know an awful lot.”

How comforting is that? Yeah, I’m not feeling all warm and fuzzy over here.

Especially now, when science is our only hope, there are too many questions that it can’t answer and that is terrifying. I need answers. I need a cure or a vaccine. I need out of my damn house! I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m going a little bonkers. The walls are closing in…I can’t breathe…Oh, dear…

Nah, I’m all right and in this fight, I’m still putting my money on science. That being said science takes time and logic has to be put through a test of fire before it’s ready for public consumption. Do we have time? What about all the people getting sick, losing their jobs, struggling to put food on their table? All the people that have died or will die? I know it seems like a shallow concern, all things considered, but we have to worry about the economy and what impact this virus is having on it. What impact will it have on the future of global economics?

Yes, lives have to be the number one concern but the economy comes in second. Oh boy, there are just so many things to worry about. So few answers. We need answers but time feels like it’s running out. Maybe, we’ll all feel a little bit better if someone would sit down and tell us a story? Maybe it can have a government conspiracy? Oo and international espionage! Don’t forget the biological weapons that threaten our rights and freedoms. Yeah, that sounds like a good distraction.

It’s amazing what a great storyteller can do with a few well-placed words. Especially when everything is scary and the monsters won’t stay in the closet or under the bed. The shadows grow long, the wind howls through the trees, and a branch taps, taps, taps against the window. The covers are pulled up high, and we bury ourselves just a little bit deeper. The hinges on our bedroom door groans, squeaks, and we gasp.

The light from the hall hides his face, but we know that silhouette. The Storyteller is here to take our minds off the monsters, ghouls, and ghosts we can’t see. He’ll give us something we can hold onto. Something we can fight. Something we can do so we don’t have to hide under the covers like little children. 

No one wants to feel like a coward. Very few of us are willing to lay down and die. We don’t want to go out like that, so we look for something to fight, someone to blame, and a story that makes it all okay. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves when fear, ignorance, and deeply buried bigotries bubble to the surface. A perfect storm in an imperfect world.

Turns out we didn’t have to worry about the monsters, ghouls, and ghosts in the shadows. Not when we catch our reflections in the mirror and see the anger, hatred, and lust for vengeance burning in our eyes. It’s not a good look on anyone and seeing it can be quite jarring. Believe me, I’ve seen that reflection too so I’m not saying this from a pulpit or soap box. I’ve fallen for the Storytellers charms. He’s really very good, but the only power the story has is the power we give it.

Like I said, I enjoy a well thought out conspiracy theory but that’s all it is: A theory. A mental exercise. An exploration of thoughts that I would never, in my hyper-rational mind, come up with on my own. As fun as they are, if I can’t back it up my peer reviewed facts and time tested logic? Then these theories stay in the hands of the Storyteller and I go back to the land of the living.

The alternative? That’s not a theory I’m willing to play out. Not again.


One thought on “The Storytellers Lies

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  1. Yeah I’m with you about conspiracy theories. Everybody in my family constantly regurgitates them. It is more rational to hear or see or experience as much evidence as you can, analyze its veracity quite critically, and try to evaluate the situation based on what seems most likely. Of course, just because someone is paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t all out to get him/her. Who knows, maybe one of the conspiracy theories is actually spot on. Maybe the little girl really did see monsters under her bed, and when they told her that aliens have taken over the president’s brain but the soccer player is really a time traveller from the future and soda pop is a hallucinogen softening up people for the invasion from dimension X it actually was quite true.


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