reid's conspiracy

Conspiracy theories I have known

August 19, 2021

      Someone I’ve known since childhood thought it was hilarious to share with my mother some of the stunts I’d pulled back when I was a teenager. She did not want to hear any of it. She hated him for sharing the stories, telling me once to stop bringing him around because, “I’ve got enough problems.”

   The origin of conspiracy theories is the home. Parents believe things about their kids that aren’t true; kids believe things about their parents that are self-servingly false. Eventually, the truth comes out; sometimes the damage is repairable, sometimes it is not. But there is always damage.

   The thing is, conspiracy theories are as natural and normal a part of life as anything else. Kids start out believing their parents are invincible; parents start out believing their kids have superpowers. Countries tell their citizens their freedoms are sacrosanct and indivisible. People don’t want to know; they want to believe. And when conspiracy theories espouse positive beliefs, they are called myths.

People don’t want to know; they want to believe.

   My mother did not want to know her oldest son was not the noble knight she wanted to believe me to be. My high school helped promulgate the myth that I was. There’s a photo in my senior yearbook showing me studiously at work during study hall with the caption, “Reid Champagne typifies the serious student who can accomplish much on his own.” This while I was spending most weekends in dissipation with the childhood friend who’d dimed me out to my mother. I ended up one marking period with both an F and a D for the first and only time of my formal education

   Myths and conspiracy theories have consequences. Based on the myths surrounding me, I was to engage in many overreaches that had the beneficial effect of teaching me necessary truths about limitations and boundaries. That’s the good outcome of conspiracy theories or myths: they can become teachable moments.

   The dark side though is when those myths and conspiracies are replaced by even more fantastical magical thinking as a way of keeping the conspiracy alive. I ran for Student Council President and won. What if, instead of discovering how much I lacked both the temperament and discernment needed for leadership, I had determined it was them and not me that was the problem?

   Over the years I eventually learned to marshall the many weaknesses and few strengths in my life, and to funnel them into something both satisfying and productive. In looking back, what I had done was substitute a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic over a great length of time to turn myself into a competent writer. I achieved my greatest success, when I accepted that competence did not automatically translate into fame and fortune, nor did it matter. But I could just as easily have fallen into that magical rabbit hole by simply believing the mere act of putting words to paper was all that was needed for success. Reality was a harder lesson to learn and took longer, but it is a way better outcome than the one where the conspiracy theory would have led. For example, I can enjoy happy hour, instead of the days of wine and roses.

   Conspiracy theories are drugs that lead only to destruction. To have them is human; to transcend them is divine.

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