The Part Wine and Pizza Play in Happiness

The internet ostensibly gives committed seekers of the “truth” ways to find it. Increasingly, though, those searchers discover “truth” is a painstakingly re-created replica of the Mona Lisa. These seekers do not find truth, but a counterfeit commissioned by “incorruptible sources” who hunger for control. The “incorruptible sources” have a thirst for power and access to unlimited funds to pay highly-skilled, but greedy and easily corruptible, artists. Deep skepticism often is the unfortunate byproduct when principled inquiries lead to cleverly concealed dishonesty in what appears to be rock-solid facts. Who are these “incorruptible sources?” Usually, I think, they are high-level government officials—and their underlings and people within their scope of control—people who willingly serve as well-paid puppets for nefarious characters for whom the revelation of actual facts would run contrary to their objectives.

While our “enemies,” people like Putin and his acolytes, immediately come to mind, I suspect armies of these manipulative bastards are far more common than are mere authoritarian dictators. I am afraid they occupy seats of power at every level of government and industry—and in church pulpits—right here at home. And worldwide. We are so completely surrounded by them that I often wonder whether they, or we, constitute the majority of the world’s population. (And I wonder who “we” are…do “we” even exist, and do the numbers of “friends” [versus “enemies] adequately qualify as “we?”) I realize, of course, I may sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. And my concerns run counter to my fragile belief in the fundamental decency of most human beings. I recognize and fret about those conflicts in my own head. I am not quite sure how to resolve them. But, for now at least, I will let those frictions fester. Deep skepticism may be the only available weapon available to us for self-defense.

Skepticism gets back to my point about seeking “truth.” Seekers must equip themselves with thick and strong shields skepticism as they go about their pursuits. They (we?) must use finely-adjusted filters to screen out fabrications or distortions of facts. And those facts that survive those filters must be subjected to even finer filters that permit only truly reliable answers to make their way through the tangle of lies and into our brains. And even though answers must then be critically analyzed, with the objective of catching and correcting misrepresentations and biases and erroneous interpretations. Seeking truth is a long, laborious, tedious, and sometimes dangerous process. Good, reliable journalists— whose numbers seem to be dwindling to the point of near invisibility—are among the few who have the stamina, skills, and integrity to withstand the stresses of the process of seeking the truth. Non-journalists who rely on the internet to uncover “truth” would be well-advised to identify and lean on good journalists; to be their supporters and allies. I wish I could find and offer a trustworthy tool to identify good journalists. I suspect the best way to do so is to look to journalists’ histories to find multiple instances of investigative work that uncovered truths that held up after repeated efforts by others to call them into question. Good luck.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

~ Galileo Galilei ~


Marriage is an institution in which the partners are expected to trust one another. That is as it should be. But marriage is no guarantee of lifelong commitment. And marriage cannot assure that trust always will be warranted. People change. Love changes along with them. People who might once have been “ideal” mates may grow apart, despite their best efforts to remain in sync with one another. On one hand, efforts to remain committed to one another should guide partners’ behaviors. On the other, staying together sometimes can guarantee only distress and misery for one or both partners. Sometimes, the “right” person begins to seem not quite right, especially when another “right” person enters the picture. Whether the connection between marriage partners weakens on its own or is impaired with the presence of that other “right” person, the dissolution of a marriage is a painful process for both parties. I suspect it is hard to admit that the commitment to one’s marriage partner has irretrievably disappeared, but despite the difficulty, it is probably best to sever the damaged connection before its infection spreads.

The dissolution of a marriage should not precede, nor accompany, the dissolution of civility between marriage partners. People who allow themselves to become enemies with their current or former marriage partners do far more damage, to themselves and to others, than they realize. The infection they spread to one another spreads to others around them, including their children, if they have them. The message they send to their friends, family, and children is one that attempts to justify the infliction of pain on other people. It is a selfish message that damages their own self-image and the image they present to people close to them and to others in their sphere.

I write not from personal experience with a marriage break-up (mine lasted almost 41 years, until the death of my wife), but from my experience as an observer of a number of marriages that crashed like boats striking a rocky shore in heavy weather. I wish their boats had sailed into a calm harbor, where they could have disembarked as serenely as possible and gone their separate ways.  Even after a chaotic end to a marriage, one precipitated by inexcusable by one or both parties, though, adults can and should behave with compassion and civility toward one another. If not to bandage the wounds for themselves, then for those around them who suffered through the rupture and continue to suffer its aftermath.


I will wait to find the “right” eyeglasses frames. Though I thought a pair I saw at Costco was the one I wanted, I decided after further consideration that it wasn’t quite what I was after. So, I will call the optical department and tell them to return the pair to the displays so someone else might buy them. I found a pair online that looked perfect; it was only $9.95. My skepticism tells me, though, that pair is probably flimsy and ill-suited to effectively hold and protect a pair of lenses that cost dozens of times as much. So I will continue my occasional quest. Even if I never find the “right” pair, I will survive. My vanity is not so great that I will hide my hideous visage when out in public, for fear my existing eyeglasses frames will be seen and ridiculed by others. No one pays enough attention to my appearance to ridicule it. Or, if they do, they do not matter to me anyway, so their scorn is ineffective. So there you go.


After writing what I wrote this morning, I long for a proper hug. One that lasts a long time and overwhelms the many remnants of caution I feel about people and their behaviors. Sadness can wash over me like a wave when I recognize, for the umpteenth time, that I cannot have everything that would make me irrevocably happy. World peace. Universal love. That perpetual hug. A solid week without a single obligation. A slice of loaded pizza and a glass of excellent cabernet sauvignon.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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