it’s an interesting question you pose, about deceptions, and which ones cut the deepest. i suspect i know what you’re getting at, but since you’ve put it out there as a theoretical question, you’ll get a more general answer out of me. hope that will satisfy your curiosity.
the easy answer, the one that leaps to mind, is this: the deceptions that other practice on us. but even there, there are levels, aren’t there? if someone lies about, say, their whereabouts on the 20th, that may or may not be an injury to you. if you had plans with them, and they discarded you for an alternate plan, for other people or places, that can cut pretty deeply. on the other hand, if they lie about liking Brussel sprouts, it hardly matters, does it?
but that’s the easy answer. it’s immediate, it’s visceral, and it’s personal, so the impact is pretty clear. what about the more subtle deceptions? i suppose you can’t really say that large scale diplomatic or political deceptions are subtle, exactly (and i’ll leave it as an exercise for you to pick the duplicitous event you like best), but think about it: what do they mean to you? you may get angry, you may decry the action, you may even take steps to reverse the effect. and then you get up the next morning, shower, get dressed, and head to the corner store to buy a gallon of milk. your everyday life doesn’t change, and you may even forget for a time that you were angry, or have the anger supplanted by the next outrage. and yet: your everyday life does change. life is a little different. you may not have the same options or freedoms. your family may not have the same opportunities. your friends may have to tighten their belts. and you know life is a little different, but the direct line may not be there.
alright, i can hear you shaking your head. ‘that’s all public’, you’re saying, ‘there’s no deception in that.’ mmm. i would argue that what is public is not the entire picture, and perhaps we should leave the argument at that.
if we put that one down, tho, i’d challenge you to take up the next, and it is this: the deception of self. it is the subtlest, the hardest to see, and the most difficult to engage. we, as humans, are so very entrenched in this idea of self that we often don’t see our selves for who or what they are. no, this is not a theological or even philosophical debate, altho we can certainly take it down that path someday, over a pot of tea and some shortbread (your mother’s recipe is divine, pun only halfheartedly not meant). instead, i’d say that we spend so very much time being us that we don’t always look at what forms ‘us’. who are we responding to, what needs are we meeting, what facade have we built and lived with for so long that it no longer feels like facade but face? if those needs aren’t coming from us, why do we choose to take them on? whose idea of ‘self’ are we trying to satisfy? and if we’ve listened to other voices for too long, aren’t we really deceiving our selves?
i said i was going to give you a general answer, x, because you didn’t really give much context to the inquiry. forgive me if i’m overstepping bounds (altho our friendship has always been quite resilient) – perhaps the last is the thing for which you were searching. with the gentlest of nudges, i would suggest you’re looking for the call to connect with your self. let go. meditate. walk along the shore. listen, deeply, to who is around you – also to what is around you, as environment is key. but most of all, let go. i think you’ll find there’s not much of a fall, and it’s quite liberating.