“As the Neapolitan bureaucrat Torquato Accetto would note in the 17th century, when we conceal something, don’t we necessarily pretend to be someone we aren’t, pretend to be the person who lacks a quality we actually possess?” ~ Dallas G. Denery II
Every last one of us do shift things around so that others are impressed in ways favored at the moment. Of course, clothes can be used to “fashion” an image others see of us, but then, so are words. It is more than the words or clothing we leave out of the moments presentation. By picking just the right word to balance out what was left out the impression wanted can be so powerful.
“…empathy-based guilt becomes pathogenic when it provokes cognitive errors in understanding causality.” ~ Lynn E. O’Connor
Being favored is best gained by trawling for empathy. It seems best expressed in my years of doing couple and family therapy. At times, the efforts of, at least, one of them was sickening, as I had to dodge efforts to win my empathy. Too often those efforts were meant to plant seeds of pity to be harvested, later.
“I frequently encounter a form of spiritual abuse: the use of true words to do untrue things. Words never stand by themselves. You cannot simply place them before someone and proclaim: “The text says!” That a statement is “true” can also be used to pretend that its every use is justified – that truth “de-weaponizes” any statement. Tragically, the very truth of a statement can give it the power that makes its use as a weapon so devastating. The reality is that “truth” wielded in such a fashion ceases to be the truth.” ~ Stephen Freeman
Locking down on any particular group of words (including scripture), ideas or even feelings we are all guilty of Fr. Freeman’s point. Wielding facets of truth in this fashion betrays two problems. Our egotism is dying in the waterless ground of self-righteousness.
“Parents can pretend to base their actions on shared relatedness to the child (parental investment) when, in fact, it is based on the unrelated part (parental exploitation). They may be unconscious of this bias.” ~ Robert Trivers
I have known this problem. It is difficult to recognize favoring one child over another. But then, marginally, counter to Trivers true point love or if you’d prefer altruism shown to our children cannot be identical. Being a father, I know what a daughter can, with little effort, prompt from our unconsciousness. My son, whom I wish I could hold in my arms, once cried to me about seeing that I loved his sister more than him. Yes, at nearly 29, she can still wrap me around her little finger. However, what he knew was a father who wouldn’t pull away from the young man, I still love, who angrily accused me of not loving him. After a few cycles through his rage and my not retaliating he broke down into tears realizing that his father did love him, but loved him differently than his sister.
“They will marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are ready to endure the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over them—so awful it will seem to them to be free. But we shall tell them that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name. We shall deceive them again, for we will not let Thee come to us again.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky’s, “The Brothers Karamazov. ‘The Grand Inquisitor‘”
Dostoevsky’s words, mouthed by a Cardinal, are my favorite expression of the pervasiveness of our self and other deceptions.