London Bridge and Fake News


Despite the long standing nursery rhyme conspiracy theory, the London Bridge is not falling down. I was there crossing the bridge a couple of days ago and here is a picture showing the aged bridge still standing and doing its job. As I approached the bridge and began my walk across, I certainly had the confident impression that it was a solid structure and that it wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. As far as I am concerned, any reports, either through rhymes, books, YouTube videos, or verbal communication, proclaiming London Bridge is falling down is nothing less than fake news.

In a world of mass communication, instant access to all sorts of information, even information we don’t even want, it is challenging to sort it all out – What is the truth? What is reality? Generally, we seek the authoritative, the one or ones seemingly in charge. Our society has this interesting schism that on the one hand asserts the individual’s capacity but on the other hand so willing to believe the first thing that comes out of a person’s mouth. I have often wondered about this. I have wondered, is it because we ourselves have been conditioned to accept our own inner authority, the inner authority that has us believe so much of our own misperception about ourselves and how we perceive the world around us, our very own fake news.

This authoritative mind tells us so much, convinces us so much, influences so much that we are not as free as we think we are. Our mind provides us the illusion that freedom comes through the self – interest, self – promotion, through dividing up our own experience into this and that, me and you, ours and theirs. We believe this and what we believe shapes our view and in turn shapes our actions, sometime benignly, rarely positively, mostly destructively.

I remember growing up around the slogan “Question Authority.” There were even stronger slogans such as “Don’t Trust Authority.” Perhaps it is time to revive the sediment in our lives. Do we question what our minds create, all the ideas, images, assumptions, presumptions, narratives and the like, or do we go blindly along? According to the teachings, it is the difference between awakening and ignorance. As my teacher, Venerable Master Thich Nhat Hanh would say, “Are you sure?” In the Korean Zen tradition there is the importance of doubt: Little doubt, little enlightenment. Great doubt, great enlightenment. This also falls into line with the old notion that a healthy spiritual life requires a bit of healthy skepticism to question the authoritative mind, whether it is our very own mind or the mind of others.

Next time we will delve into the cover-up behind the Humpty-Dumpty incident – Did Humpty-Dumpty really die from the fall or was it because of medical negligence due to his lack of health insurance?

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