I had a revelation a few weeks ago. Someone said to me – “You’re entitled.” It was like a moment of fireworks – sparkling, loud, disruptive, then gone, leaving behind a nagging memory of… something. What is it? What aspect of that moment lingers? What part of that ‘aha’ moment pierced my soul and left me in quiet, questioning silence?
I have never thought of myself as entitled. Isn’t that a word ascribed to the idle rich or the lazy destitute? Certainly, I am neither. Yet, from the moment the word was spoken there was a kindred connection. Unpleasant, yes, bitter even, but undeniable. There was a truth that recognised me and I, it. Understanding would come later.
The month is January, the year 2021. All eyes are on the great United States of America as it lurches towards the 20th, Inauguration Day. Temperatures are rising throughout the country as Donald Trump’s pronouncements become more and more ludicrous. Then with the world watching, on January 6th, his supporters storm Capitol Hill. A crazed, blood thirsty mob, shouting “Hang Mike Pence” and hunting for Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. The grand attempt at overturning a democratic election failed, thankfully, but a phrase was born. A phrase that I have heard repeated countless times on the networks since that day. A phrase that pierced my silence and connected with my soul. Another kindred connection. The phrase? “The Big Lie”
The media has told us that 70+ million American voters have bought into the ‘The Big Lie’ that the US elections was wrought with fraud. That the election was really won by Donald Trump and Joseph R. Biden would be an illegitimate president. Belief in ‘The Big Lie’ was so powerful as to cause a mob to descend on the US Capitol, frothing at the mouth, blind to logic and reality.
According to Wikipedia, a big lie is a “gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body”. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf.
The following is taken from Chapter 10 of James Murphy’s translation of Mein Kampf:
“All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.”
Even before I knew, I felt, that there lacked logic in the impetus that propelled me to action. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why on earth did I do that?!” The question, like an echo in an empty chamber, reverberates in the recesses of your mind and being eluded by any plausible explanation, you remain frozen in wonder at the bold stupidity of your actions.
The thought that we are, “…more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of ‘our’ emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily,” strangely, leads me to ponder even more on ‘entitled’, the revelation that would not leave me alone.
One definition of entitled is, “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”. And the question surfaces, “What is the case then, when that which one believes one is inherently deserving of, is based on a big lie?” Based on something that is rooted not just in the emotional nature, but also in what you believe to be your spiritual nature.
So, as a Christian, when I say that I am a child of God or that I am a woman of faith, do I believe that somehow it means I am exempt from some particular of life’s consequences? Does it mean that my path should be different because I have the ear of God? Do I deserve or am I entitled to some specific outcome because I prayed about it?
In reflective silence the questions continue. What have my decisions been based on? Have I shunned practicality and logic for faith and… what? What is the big lie that I have been telling myself?
It is this final question that has given me pause. I look back on the landscape of my life, recognising with pellucid clarity, the highs and lows and wonder, how could I have ever confused a valley with a mountain?
The certainty of my actions premised as they were, on a faulty blueprint, on an idea of who I am that was embedded deep in the strata of my subconscious, could not have been debated. That I was wrong was inconceivable and therefore my success was inevitable. I had faith on my side. And therein lay entitlement. There was my lie. And there was my truth.
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, Matthew recalls, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Interestingly in his response to Peter, Jesus said, “… You are a hindrance to me…” Sometimes, the thing we hold most dear, our faith, is the thing that becomes our hindrance, that grows into our big lie, that blinds us from the truth of who we are and what we do.
I have spent years in the practice of reflection and introspection, Peter was the rock on which the church was built – we were both unable to see what was right in front of us. Jesus set Peter straight. For me, I am grateful for the ear that listened and the voice that so bluntly spoke the truth.
Thank you, Jason Arthur.