Gullibility

In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift introduced a theme to his book by calling his main character “Gulliver,” a corruption of the word “gullible.” Throughout his travels, Gulliver shows himself to be gullible, believing things he’s told to the exclusion of all logic.

What is this gullibility that we speak of? What does the word mean?

Most dictionaries define the word “gullible” as being easily deceived or cheated.

Here’s where that definition makes no logical sense to me. We are supposed to recognize that others have the potential of lying to us. But there are so many societies and cultures in the world, now that Earth has become a melting pot of dispersed populations, that it is literally impossible to anticipate all the ways we can be deceptive to one another. In fact, it may be healthier to accept some misdirection in relationships just because we’re all humans and deception seems to be one of the major characteristics that defines us.

Maybe, because I’m a pragmatist, I find those who whine about all the negatives in the human race, incuding how others have done them wrong, somewhat annoying.

Here’s my take on gullibility:

Believing in gullibility helps us to distrust others, what they might do to us, and distrusting others is distrusting ourselves—way more dangerous than anything we can imagine others actually doing to us.

Denying freedom to others is denying freedom to ourselves.

Denying love to others is denying love to ourselves.

Trusting others, we learn to trust ourselves. So trust is essential for any democracy, especially when it’s made up of lots of citizens who don’t share the same views we have. Trusting is so much more important to a free democracy than what we’ve settled on as our own viewpoint—what we, as individuals, think is right.

How we come to the world, projects out, creating the very world we are reacting to.

That was the very topic of the movie starring Marlee Matlin, What The Bleep Do We Know?.  The movie spoke of the power we have of changing our views on the universe. Based on real physics, and the idea of Uncertainty (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle), in a strange way, we can change the universe itself.

All those angry at the American Government—watch out! Our beliefs usually color our world, or the way we perceive our world (at least, subconsciously).

This might be a healthier way to think:

The people we resent who run our government might just be suffering from stupidity (time and again, as does the whole human race). What we think about others is usually what we subconsciously think about ourselves:

So, if we think others or their behavior is evil, it’s a good bet that will lead to us believing that we ourselves are evil. And if we think others, or their behavior, is stupid, it’s a good bet that will lead to believing that we ourselves are stupid.

The good news is one can survive stupidity by learning how to be smarter.

One rarely survives blind vilification.

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