June 5 - Festival of Popular Delusions

Posted on June 5, 2017

I believe that some folks want this to be a light-hearted "holiday," a sort of "just joking" festival that seems to celebrate things that are "common wisdom" - but really criticizes them as simply not true.

I can play the light-hearted game. Let's look at the common not-so-much-wisdom of popular sayings.

Like, "Time heals all wounds."

Or, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I know that there are layers of meaning in sayings, and I know that they are created in order to do a particular job, such as comforting people who are dealing with illness, death, or emotional upset, encouraging people to go on.

But these particular not-true sayings tend to dismiss others' grief or anger as something to "get over," hopefully as soon as possible. And that dismissive attitude is not okay.

Is it really comforting to hear lies? Of course, time DOES heal some wounds. But this isn't always true. Some wounds - physical or emotional - never heal, but instead fester and perhaps worsen. Some things don't kill you but drastically weaken you rather than strengthening you. To say otherwise, even as an attempt to comfort someone, can be a way of blaming the victim. The underlying message is, "If your wound doesn't heal, there's something wrong with you. If you are not stronger because of the hardships you face, there's something wrong with you."

Okay, I was trying to keep things light, and now I've gone all serious! But...let's get even more serious:

Every source I consulted had the same story for the beginnings of this special day:

The people who created the holiday supposedly realized that June 5, 1944, was the last day that the Nazis could hold the delusion that their Third Reich would last 1,000 years, as Hitler had promised them.

Because on June 6, 1944, D-Day occurred. More than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the battle to retake Western Europe from the Nazis. Of course, the fighting continued for a while - and some battles, like D-Day itself, were horrific. It took almost a year until the Allies could declare Victory in Europe. But people still count 6/5/44 as the last day of the Nazi's "we're here to stay" delusion. 

Maybe the bursting of the Nazi delusion wasn't the true start of this holiday? Maybe this origin story is, itself, a delusion?

Maybe. Still, there is no way a holiday can be light-hearted if it's supposed to start with Nazis!

Here's another reason to be serious:

The world is a more dangerous place if we allow delusions to flourish. The 2016 elections show just how dangerous even ridiculous rumors can be - somehow, if they're said often enough, and if enough websites post the rumor as if it were true, more and more people believe even the unbelievable.

As I am writing this post more than half a year after the election, I realize that some people still believe the oft-debunked rumors. For some, the delusions still hold, even though the election is long over. 

Another example of a dangerous delusion is the popular - but incorrect - idea that global climate change is a myth, that global warming isn't real, that we can just keep doing whatever we like, for as long as we like, and we'll be fine.

Holding onto this all-too-popular delusion is a recipe for disaster.

So...no, I do not feel like "festival" and "delusions" should be in the same name.

But I do acknowledge that some people utilize today's festival as an opportunity to drive away, debunk, or disband delusions, to promote the truth.

Getting away from some of the more serious delusions, maybe you can enjoy sinking your teeth into some of the sillier delusions that are surprisingly popular...

Like the idea that the Earth is flat.
Seriously, some people really think this! And they create memes and YouTube videos, and they put forth reasonable-sounding arguments and claim that they are just going with the evidence and logic. But, just because they sound all right does not mean that they are not completely and utterly wrong. Have fun researching why their arguments are super-duper wrong!

Here's another surprisingly popular delusion: the idea that NASA faked the Moon landings. You can have fun debunking these pieces of "evidence" and these "logical" arguments, as well!

Also on this date:

Queen's birthday in Niue

President's Day in Equatorial Guinea

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