Playing the Levels

There is a bad habit humans have of taking things at face value, of letting the surface be as far as we look. This is a huge problem in America, the land of the veneer. For example, white teeth are more acceptable than healthy teeth, the promise of sex is everywhere but it’s not ok to actually talk about it, horrible violence is allowed on TV yet cussing is often edited out. There is a serious backwards paradigm at play here. It hurts more than it helps, if indeed it helps at all.

The veneer demands that what is true be hidden in order to display that which looks good. This isn’t about making something better; it’s about pretending it’s better for the sake of reputation, advantage, or power. A woman is not supposed to appear as if she is powerful or sexual, the veneer requires her to be displayed, to be available, to be willing. This particular veneer then turns the real woman into a bitch if she won’t “put out” or a tease if she refuses a man. It means that, oddly enough, rape survivors bear the burden for the crime committed against them. Another example of the veneer is the fact that British people tend to have healthier teeth than Americans, yet many of us tease them for not having identical perfectly white blocks in their mouth. The veneer actually starts to become hypocritical in instances, as when a rape survivor is silenced for the sake of “community” or “family” cohesion.

Everyone knows about the MPAA but no one knows who they actually are. The MPAA rate movies and television shows so that parents can know what’s appropriate for their kids to watch and others know what movies to avoid. While this has been a fairly useful system to have the MPAA is made up of people we know nothing about and whose decisions oftentimes result in arbitrary ratings. Movies with sexual content are often rated higher than those with ridiculously graphic violence or language. The FCC does a bang-up job of editing our TV experience by castrating wonderful cinema. Sometimes the message of the movie or a scene becomes nearly unintelligible. Other times you have to wonder what the point is when the language is dumbed down but the terrible violence remains. Then there are the arbitrary commercial rules, where all of the good programs are played in the middle of the night yet commercials about sex toys, pumps, and pills abound throughout the day time.

Is it any wonder people are confused? We have contradictory messages being sent at us all hours of the day. In many ways, we are told that the substance of a person, object, or idea do not matter if the packaging is appealing. Is it any wonder that people end up making bad decisions when they have never been taught how to critically view anything? Even people who claim that surface issues don’t matter still have some other idea or people they can’t get past because of the “ick”  or “duh” factor. We all know politicians are “full of it” but it doesn’t seem to matter because the same types of people keep getting elected.

We all know people who claim “all men/women are” (various terrible things) but at the same time can’t get enough of them. Or the person who keeps finding the same terrible people to date because they’re hot or because of some other arbitrary factor. I find it ironic that people think polyamory is weird or unnatural when so many monogamists cheat or date serially. The message comes across as the sanction of a veneer over the truth: it’s okay or more acceptable to be dishonest, jealous, or to sum it up to being “just the way men/women are” but not okay to be completely honest, own your emotions, and work through it. Many people claim to dislike fake people yet turn around and tolerate a culture of veneer. It’s gotten so bad that we make fun of it and still don’t really change it.

People end up with shallow ideas, shallow emotions, shallow philosophy, and a shallow life. Shallow ideas, or a veneer, is true in the most limited sense possible. The problem comes in when the veneer is mistaken for the deeper reality of the object or subject. Some people dig a little deeper and move down a few levels. Some manage to find deeper truths (as when many white people realized that black people were actually people). The deepest truths we have come from philosophy and science. In other words, they cover more levels of reality than the surface. The truth covers everything, which is why the search must go on so long.


What veneers hang over your life? What veneers are harder to see but still do damage? Why do you think people put up with veneers? What are ways you can get to the deeper, meatier levels?


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