martes, 23 de julio de 2013

The Five Lies of Childhood

People are so unconnected to the real world, so much lost in the lies and deceit that they’ve  been fed that it’s any wonder anything can get done.  You can go to college and learn all kinds of stuff, all kinds of practical stuff, but when it comes to making decisions about the real stuff of life, they have you in their pocket because they got you believing in imaginary stuff from the time you were small.  And when you grow up, you have no reference for the realities of life, for the things that they didn’t want to talk to you about because they were lazy or they were scared or they were just plain stupid, or their parents did it to them.

They start in on you very early, while you’re still gullible.  They start lying to you when you start asking questions they can’t answer, like “Where did I come from?”

“Oh, honey – of course, the Stork brought you.”

And this is the perfect thing to start the trail of lies with – you’re a little dependent being, totally narcissistic, self-centered, and the fairy tale centers on you.  By the time they’re through with you, that story is in, and they’re off the hook with that question for a while.

And how do they do it?  They have this pictorial evidence of a cartoon stork holding, in its long (and dangerous) beak, a sheet folded into a little baby hammock.  Of course, it isn’t real evidence; it’s a cartoon and you can’t even see the baby in most of those pictures.  But you take in that picture and you think about coming down the chimney, and of course you think that the reason that they are so hard on you about staying clean is that the stupid stork couldn’t just drop you through a window onto a nice comfy chair – he (because you know that a female stork would take better care of a baby) had to drop you down the chimney and you probably landed in a big cloud of ash that messed up the carpet and left you all black and sooty.  So, with the combination of the cheerful ‘retelling’ of your ‘birth’ and the pictorial ‘evidence’ and the guilt for completely messing up their almost sacrosanct living room, you buy it and stop questioning, and they won’t have to deal with that question (or fix it) for another decade, if they’re lucky.

So you’re a helpless little kid, dependent on these Big People for everything, and you just swallowed your first Big Lie.  And this is a Big Lie, not like “Daddy’s not mad” or “You’re only at the babysitter for a half hour – Mommy will be home soon.”  This is a lie that will affect your life for a long time – not for your whole life (probably) but for a number of years at least.

And that’s the First Lie:  The Stork brought you, honey.

Ok, so they got you pretty good, but the hook’s not set – not yet.  So the next thing has to grab you, has to really have an effect on you to keep you believing the stuff they are feeding you.

And what will that be?  Well, appealing to your narcissism worked the first time, and the cute animal worked pretty well (and animals can’t betray the Big People because they can’t talk).  And what might grab you?  Your desire.  Sure, even at that young age, you have very strong wants.  They dangle something you want.  So here comes the Easter Bunny!  And look, he’s got brightly colored eggs that you can search for in a treasure hunt.  Boy, all that production value sure makes this seem important – and fun.  But what will make it even more fun?  Candy!  And you’re a kid – you want candy.

So, with your mouth full of candy and your face covered with chocolate, you get through the admittedly low-key holiday by means of the distraction of the hunt and the little windows in some of the eggs, and you’ve bought the lie again.

And that’s the Second Lie:  Aren’t you excited that the Easter Bunny is coming, sweetie?

But the Easter Bunny won’t work for too long.  And the reason is not that you are too smart for them, but that sooner or later you are going to come face to face with that imaginary character, and you will notice the shoddy costume, the fake eyes, the whole artifice of it all.  Where ‘pictorial evidence’ worked for the Stork story, they need more for the Easter Bunny tale, and pictorial evidence is thin, so they trot out someone’s dad or a hired actor – and sooner or later, one of the kids is gonna twig to the fact that this ain’t no real rabbit.  And part of the way that they strategize against that inevitability is by having you immediately help with the dyeing of the Easter eggs for the hunt just as soon as you start to doubt the Bunny.  And by this means, they've given their credibility a bump – they’ve admitted to mendacity while inviting your collusion at the same time:  “Well, wouldn’t it be fun to dye some Easter eggs?  And you can help hide them?  It’s for the little kids, after all.”

Now, let me divagate here for a moment before tackling the Third Big Lie, because we’ve come to one of the minor lies that feed this whole system of brainwashing kids:  Hallowe’en.

Hallowe’en also works on several levels with kids, because it involves things kids love – dressing up in costume, wandering around at night and playing pranks, knocking on strangers’ doors, and candy.  There is no great imaginary friend in the game, but the use of various ‘characters’ from the media and (less and less so) from literature brings a kind of surreal quality to the event that plays right into the whole ‘imaginary friend’ program that the Big People put on kids to brainwash them.  It goes like this:  “If we can play and have fun among a lot of people pretending to be whom they are not, then the kids won’t have as much trouble getting comfortable with imaginary beings in the conversation, and they will come to believe through a subtle transference.  And if some of those pretenses involve beings that clearly do not exist, then the kids will thus become indoctrinated to the entire idea of believing in things that don’t exist.”

Candy seems to play big in these lies our parents told us… at Easter, on Hallowe’en, and even on that lie-riddled Valentine’s Day (named after a guy whose own end was as messy as that garage on Clark Street in Chicago in 1929).  Candy.  And the unspoken thing about Hallowe’en is that the Big People have taught you the whole scheme of extortion, readying you a bit more for the life you will step into as an adult, in which you will need to learn to withhold in order to get what you want – and whether you are withholding good things or bad things, it’s still extortion.

Hallowe’en actually serves a viable purpose in this scheme to brainwash kids, because it presents the kind of contradictions that their lives will be filled with:  “Ok, we’re gonna go around as dead people – no, really dead people and ghosts, vampires, werewolves and all that – and we’re gonna knocks on doors and demand candy and people are gonna give it to us candy.”  There’s that candy again!  This mixing of treats and fun and dead people is another instance of the surreal creeping into events that the kids are actually involved in, but the negative aspects of this juxtaposition won’t come up til much later in life, when you’re all adults and you have to actually confront death,

And before we get too far ahead of ourselves on the life’s timeline, let’s get to the Third Big Lie.  So about six years old – as young as five for some kids and as old as seven for others – kids start losing their ‘baby teeth,’ the placeholders for their actual life-long teeth while the jaw is growing to a good size.  And with the loss of the first baby tooth, the next Big Lie makes her entrance:  the Tooth Fairy.

Again, we have an imaginary character in a little drama centered on the child – the child is the hero or heroine of the story, and the Tooth Fairy is the benefactor who makes all the pain and messiness of losing a tooth worth it.  The child is young enough to still believe in these things, and – because of the tall tale’s setup – there is no worrisome bunny costume, no need for pictorial evidence, because it all takes place while the child is asleep.  the Tooth Fairy makes her ‘appearance,’ but the only appearance that the child sees is the physical ‘evidence’ of a quarter or a dollar or whatever hush-money that the Big People leave under the pillow.  Voila – a kid who believes!   (Until the notion is shot down by some anarchist in the schoolyard.)

So there’s the Third Lie:  Don’t cry about that hurty tooth, honey – the Tooth Fairy will leave you some blood money!

And now we’re ready to look at the penultimate of the Big Lies of childhood:  Santa Clause.  Again, the ‘tradition’ we know is much diluted (or powerfully adulterated) from the original.  But for our purposes here, we can view the current tradition (or that of the recent past) and find another appeal to narcissism, paying of the desires of the kid, and candy.  Christmas (and Hanukkah), as celebrated in the secular world, introduces another aspect, one which the child is now advanced enough to assimilate and apply to the world at large:  greed.  The notion of a jolly old man who showers children with gifts is a powerful intoxicant to a greedy little kid, and one that will be apprehended as plausible without much examination – if only because of the effort involved in unwrapping all the much-desired presents. 

And part of the evidence, if all the hoopla of ‘the holidays’ isn’t enough for our little believer, then the actual and real embodiment of ‘Old Saint Nick’ in department stores is quite enough for children of a certain age.  Once the child gets the notion that all might be a bit askew (especially by the sight of all those bell-ringing St Nick’s in front of stores), it is a simple thing to smudge the picture a bit and gain a perhaps a whole year of gullibility out of the kid – Oh, he’s not the real Santa Clause; he’s one of Santa’s helpers, dressed up to look like Santa… for the little kids, you know?

And that’s the Fourth Lie:  You better behave yourself and be good – or Santa Clause isn’t going to bring you all those you want so much.

No wonder the shock of adolescence is so tough on kids – all those lies of childhood, spinning in the kid’s head doused with a cocktail of hormones and self-doubt.  But the kid is now ready to accept and believe all kinds of things, and the public schools have been feeding him a long line for a long time – Thanksgiving and the ‘helpful’ Indians, Washington’s cherry tree and dollar-across-the river, and al the other myths that Americans so diligently constructed for the last two-hundred-plus years to cover up the greed and rapacity and inhuman cruelty that could not be justified and so had to be whitewashed.

Jarion Monroe, in one of our conversations about the subject of childhood lies said, “I think  the progression of lies actually may be (rather than consecutive) more of an equally weighted net to capture  and pull the budding inquiring/formative mind into the miasma of belief; something which the scientific method keeps trying to counteract with its system of empirical proofs, which is very dangerous to the ruling families and their nouveau hangers-on.  I always come back to the power of greed, the driving engine for the thinly-disguised primal fear-of-death-as-remedied-or-ameliorated-by-accumulating-everything-in-sight.” [ital mine]

This net of deceit has for generations been brushed off as a ‘necessary evil’ when raising children… but that ‘explanation’ cannot excuse the behavior that has led to a largely ignorant and now diversion-addicted predominant culture.

Considering how many lies their teachers told children about America’s ongoing pageant of skewed and hypocritical political processes, it’s not surprising that the work of the parents colluded with those lies to form minds that could easily accept the blatantly false as if it were true. 

The ‘political conversation’ has turned into a travesty of thought and logic, after so many people have swallowed wholesale so many patent untruths about every aspect of our lives that the power to discern reality from fiction has faded to a feeble feint in the direction of sunshine as they fall back to a kind of walking sleep.  We have an electorate that is largely ignorant of its own history, of the diverse and rich cultures that gathered and coalesced into what is called the ‘melting pot’ (but would more accurately be called the ‘salad bowl’), of the kind of culture America has become, and of the lies that we all have been fed and willingly consume every day of our lives.

And technology has rendered modern life so busy (how long each day do you spend just deleting emails?) and so expensive that who cares anymore that Washington is a snake basket full of lying hypocrites (of both parties) and that our self-appointed ‘news’ outlets are using nonstop ‘bad news’ to covering up the real bad news each and every day?

Is there any hope?  There would be, in a generation or two, if only we would take the time to continue to educate ourselves, to provide more and better education for our children, to not let the politicians cut education spending – because we are falling far far behind ‘underdeveloped’ countries, and we need every good mind we can muster to even begin to solve the problems facing us in the coming years.

This little essay got pretty large, pretty fast, so I think we’ll quit hire for a while, and we’ll take a look at the Bi-polar Sky Wizard in the next installment, because he’s a whole couple of books by himselves. 

David Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short story That Man in the London Aesthetica Competition.  He can be reached at dhakim at

© 2012 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

miércoles, 17 de julio de 2013


After my pal’s experience Friday night (emergency eye surgery after I took him to see the doc because he was so annoyed about a new set of floaters that suddenly appeared in his right eye), my friend said felt about like that woman in Un Chein Andalou

Eye surgery is clearly no fun, but on the whole it's better (at least he said so) than a trip to the dentist. And the good news is that my pal is ok and I learned a lot about the architecture of the human eye and how to handle such urgent situations. Some of handling such situations involves ideas that seem at first counter-intuitive, but on careful consideration they make sense.

 I had very little understanding of how the eyeball is constructed and what the parts do.  I mean, the light goes in through the little hole and turns itself upside-down with the aid of a lens, right?  Then the image is projected on the back wall of the eyeball, which is called the retina, right?  and there are some muscles and the optic nerve and it's all sort of jammed in there (carefully) and it works.  

But I'll tell you - when they poke a needle into one of the four muscles that controls your eyeball, you will (according to my pal), start to realise just how wacky the whole thing is.

Anyway, here are some helpful tips that they just don't teach in school.

Hakim’s rules for emergency eye-care:

1. If you have an eye injury – UNLESS it is actually a facial injury (zygomatic, maxilla, orbital etc) and/or you are bleeding – bypass the emergency room and head straight for the nearest ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists have flexible office hours and will see you on the minute if they are able. The ER would only send you to one anyway, and cutting out the middle man could save precious minutes (or hours) that could mean the difference between blindness and recovery of sight. I learned this from arborist Steve Marshall many years ago (thanks, Dome!).

2. If you have ANY new conditions in only one eye, don't be shy about spending the $65 to see an ophthalmologist as a precautionary measure. Flashes of light, spots in front of your eyes, weird sensations – all can be indicative of trouble.

3. If you experience NEW floaters (especially hundreds or thousands of small distinct dots) in your vision in one eye go IMMEDIATELY to an ophthalmologist – this condition could be bleeding inside your eye. The dots you’re seeing could actually be red blood cells.

4. Even a feeling of change in viscosity of your tearing fluid could indicate an internal problem – the brain, receiving conflicting or anomalous signals from the eye, could actually translate that by some byzantine manner into a total mis-read of the data.

5. Retinal tears can lead to retinal detachment, so they must be treated IMMEDIATELY.

6. It does not take a trauma to create a retinal tear – it can happen in the course of a normal day, if you are of an age when the vitreous humor is changing. the vitreous humor can actually *pull* at the retinal, creating a small tear in the retinal.

7. The exam is not fun, and neither is the surgery – but as I said, it seems it's much better than a visit to the dentist, especially one where they lay you back in the chair and go to work drilling away in your mouth or pulling a tooth.

Anyway, my friend is healing well and has most of his vision back, though he still complains about ‘flaring’ in his right eye, which could be light bouncing off the remaining red blood cells floating around in his eye.

David Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short story That Man in the London Aesthetica Competition.  He can be reached at  dhakim at

© 2013 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.