Denial of Reality: Desperate Students, Peace in the Holy Land, and a Balanced Budget

Too frequently, in my role as a university professor, I encounter the following situation.

Mid-semester, a student in my class shows up at my office.  The student has done almost no work and is failing badly.  Yet the prospect of a failing grade is so repellent to the student that he (or she) absolutely cannot accept it as a possible outcome.  The student fantasizes that it cannot and will not occur.  So he assures me that he really knows the material, that he will study hard, and that he will get an excellent grade on the final exam.

As he tells me this, I know that there is absolutely no chance that any of it will come to pass.  But as he says it, he believes it.  However, I know, with 99.9% certainty, that I will be entering a failing grade for him at the end of the semester.  He knows with equal certainty that I will not.  He deludes himself because reality is too painful to confront, and so he continues on in his deluded state until reality smacks him in the face.

Something similar is going on in the minds of effete leftist foreign policy "experts" who claim that they want to see peace in the Holy Land.  They are convinced that a peace agreement can be achieved via the right combination of outside pressure and internal reconciliation, and that the correct mix of these ingredients will be concocted in the relatively near future.  But these experts are absolutely wrong.

Despite the mindless devotion to the mantra two states for two peoples, there is no peaceful reconciliation around the corner.  The Arab/Muslim world is unalterably opposed to the existence of a sovereign Jewish state in the heart of the Umma.  Yet the experts continue to formulate programs to implement the mantra in the face of its manifest impossibility.  Why?  If we accept that the Arab/Muslim world is inexorably opposed to the existence of Israel and determined to kill it, then it is rational to believe that eventually forces will realign to the point that Israel will no longer be able to defend itself.  What then: mass slaughter?  As with the student, reality is too awful to contemplate.

A third instance of this kind of massive self-deception concerns the United States' debt.  Too many naïve (and sometimes duplicitous) liberals believe, or profess to believe, that the unsustainable debt that has accumulated over the last 80 years poses a grave, even an existential danger to the republic.  This problem must be dealt with, and will be dealt with when the country elects the right people to implement the right policies to achieve the goal of paying down the debt.

But it is patent nonsense.  The history of the last century and especially of the last dozen years teaches that virtually all of the American people (not just liberals) have neither the will nor the desire to practice federal fiscal responsibility.  Moreover, we behave as if it is just a matter of time until we get control of our fiscal delinquency.  Why?  Because we are racing inexorably toward the day of reckoning, wherein a financial/political/cultural crisis of epic proportions will bring about a cataclysmic fiscal collapse.  Again, too horrible to contemplate; so we delude ourselves that we can and will deal with the debt.

Like the woebegone student, we're deluding ourselves.  And as with him, reality is going to smack us in the face eventually, whether we like it or not.

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