Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sorry, Virginia

There is a time in our lives when we are told about a wonderful man, a man who gives you things you don't even have to pay for. 

The people who are in charge of things tell you amazing tales about him,  tales of his compassion and astonishing abilities, qualities that seem like magic.  

Despite his powers, details of his youth and young adulthood are mysterious, assuming the quality of myth.

He lives in a very special home and is attended by large numbers of smaller people who carry out his wishes and who construct the bright toys he gives.   

He keeps lists of people he thinks are good and bad.  Brother, you do not want to be on that bad list. 

He's on television all the time, and you can even go see him in person when he comes to your town.

You love this man.  He's a dream come true.  No one has ever seen anything like him. 

As the years go by, though, you begin to observe that many things in real life are not consistent with the stories of him and  his mission.  But you are told to keep believing, and you do. 

For awhile; then, one day, the evidence of your own eyes and your common sense overwhelm your craving to believe in this man. Without anyone telling you, you can see for yourself that the stories about him are not true. The man is not who he pretended to be.  Even though you saw him with your own eyes, it turns out he never really existed as he portrayed himself and as others sang of him. (Yes, people wrote songs about him, and small children were made to sing them.)   He and his helpers knowingly misled you -- you and millions of others -- going to incredible lengths to sustain the illusion of the man's greatness. 

In fact, that man you saw, he's just a guy in a fancy suit who isn't special and has no particular fondness for you. 
Even those presents you got -- someone had to pay for them after all.  It dawns on you that sooner or later, you yourself will be expected to pay for gifts others receive. 

When the truth becomes apparent, you protest the deception.  But the people in charge say they did it for your own good. 

You're sad for a little while, but not long. You understand, finally, that some things really are too good to be true.   Some of your friends continue to believe in the man, but they don't advertise it, and many of them know in their hearts they've been had.  Others cling fiercely to the myths, fearful that if they do not the free presents will stop.  

You remember with fondness the excitement of those early years when you believed.  But with your eyes finally open to what is really going on, you put that man in the fancy suit behind you as you make your way in the real world.

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