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Appearance versus reality – the dilemma with human beings

Appearance versus reality – the dilemma with human beings

Throughout history there has been a general understanding that appearances can be deceiving. A person may go through life without anyone understanding the true reality of their character. William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time, understood the relationship between appearance and reality and often gave characters two sides to their personality.  (Photo:  Joseph Sherman, author)

One of the most fundamental questions in philosophy is the one of appearance vs. reality. We find ourselves asking the question of what is genuinely “real,” and what is viewed merely as just an “appearance,” and not real? It becomes difficult when we assume there is a difference in the two to determine which is which. Generally, what we label as “real” is regarded as external and eternal. What we refer to as just an appearance is regarded as temporary and internal. Many early as well as modern day authors use the theme of appearance vs. reality to portray a character in a certain way.

While there are many serious issues facing the world today there are none more worrisome than that of a pretentious and sycophantic person. An unstable and a dim-witted person with no hope of survival seek avenues to portray his or her sleazy and venomous image.  He or she seeks to be admired publicly while within him or her is below standard.   I feel perturbed and ashamed for such individuals who are masquerading themselves to be what they are not.  Is it because they have failed in life? Or are they opportunists who are bent on exploring all avenues to survive?   As Andrew Carnegie said, “People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”

This is an area that most mediocre, half-baked people and fools seem to lose track of.  A fool may be known by six things: anger, without cause; speech, without profit; change, without progress; inquiry, without object; putting trust in a stranger, and mistaking foes for friends.    There is a diabolical trio existing in the natural man,   implacable, inextinguishable, co-operative and consentaneous,    pride, envy, and hate; pride that makes us fancy we deserve all  the goods that others possess; envy that some should be admired  while we are overlooked; and hate, because all that is   bestowed on others, diminishes the sum we think due to ourselves.

A primary law governing human nature is that we all have a need to feel significant. Nobody wants to be thought of as unimportant, or feel that his ideas and thinking is irrelevant. Take away a person’s belief that he has value and he’ll do just about anything to reassert his sense of importance. Your apathy toward the situation will unnerve him immensely.    He will begin to crave recognition and acceptance, in any form. He needs to know you care what happens, and if talking about his misdeeds is the only way he can find out, he will.

The plagiarist might feel contempt toward those he misleads. He would thus not only have to conceal the source of his work and to pretend ability that is not his, he would also have to conceal his contempt. The embezzler might feel surprise when someone else is accused of his crime. He would have to conceal his surprise or at least the reason for it. Thus emotions often become involved in lies that were not undertaken for the purpose of concealing emotions. Once involved, the emotions must be concealed if the lie is not to be betrayed. Any emotion may be the culprit, but three emotions are so often intertwined with deceit as to merit separate explanation: fear of being caught, guilt about lying, and delight in having duped someone.

The arrogance of putting pedigree ahead of ability is much greater than simply alienating the public – it results in the mediocrity of people. People become a poor shadow of the past. We see this phenomenon in other areas of society as well – in politics, the media, scandals, in the degradation of culture into an orgy of infantile gossip. Examples of this mediocrity abound in all areas of society.

By Joseph S. Sherman, Washington, DC

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