We would pretend monsters were after us or the living room floor was made of lava and the couch cushions became rocks to cross the lava field. We played cowboys and Indians as well as cops and robbers. We even believed in Santa and the tooth fairy.
Today we’ve taken our imaginations to a different level. We continue to pretend and play make-believe. In fact our imaginations have become so vivid that we live these fantasies and stories out in our daily lives.
The biggest game we play today is the one called infinite growth on a finite planet.
We believe an economy can grow forever in a limited space. We then add to the story by believing human industrial activity has little to no impact on the climate. We make-believe that recycling is a solution to our exorbitant waste and that solar and wind power will solve our energy issues. We make-believe that droughts of this magnitude are circular and that people pouring through our borders have nothing to do with basic human needs or resource-hoarding policies.
Some of my favorite games that we play include the fantasy that arming everyone will make our society safer. We pretend that if poor folks just worked harder they would move out of poverty. We make-believe that racism is in the past, now that we have a person of color in the White House.
The election game is one many of us like to act out every so often. Pretending that a donkey or elephant will represent our perspectives is one that we love to play. My president was better than your president! We believe we live in a free society.
We believe our military and economic aggression brings peace and democracy to the world. We believe we are the “good guys.”
We pretend we don’t live in a rape culture. We as men pretend we aren’t the problem. We act like it’s a man’s world and pretend there are no consequences. My dad is stronger than your dad!
We pretend police violence is justified and ignore its racist connections. We pretend All Lives Matter and ignore the truth of those being slaughtered in our streets.
We live in the culture of make-believe.
A term coined by activist Derrick Jensen in his book, Culture of Make Believe. We who live in the dominant global industrial culture are the great pretenders. I for one am going to take Jackson Browne’s advice and, “Say a prayer for the pretender.” Just make sure you’re not praying to a pretend guy in the sky with a long white beard. Playtime is over.
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