This is the greatest lie ever told. Whispered to us as children. A deception so deeply entrenched in our collective unconscious we buy into it without question. Become complicit in its propagation. This is the lie we tell ourselves. Listen closely. Unlearning isn’t easy.
This is the greatest lie ever told. The greatest trick ever pulled. And it’s not by the devil. You’ll soon see what I mean. Listen closely. Unlearning isn’t easy.
The following is the written form of the slam poem performed in the above video. It’s meant to be heard, not read, as timing, delivery, and inflection are key.
However I’m producing it here in its entirety for the sake of clarity as well as for the hearing impaired:
They say the greatest trick ever pulled—
the most egregious deception—
was the Devil’s manipulation of our collective perception
of his very existence.
Cause see, we humans give little persistence to concepts unpleasant.
Just give us an out
and watch us take action, no matter how transparent or lacking in logic,
grab hold and frantically mold into a mental blindfold this
for maintaining status quo.
But this isn’t about the devil.
Or the Usual Suspects—
though I will interject, by the way, that quote came 126 years
before Keyser Söze.
(but I fear I digress)
See there’s a lie even greater. A trick even more clever:
a deception so deep it may be impossible to sever from our collective reality.
You see, cause this one’s universal.
No devil needed.
Just human persistence.
Unhindered by atheistic resistance of good and evil embodied;
But for the believers of evil incarnate it’s far from discordant,
this lie so entrenched, so perverse so abhorrent that attribution to someone anyone anything but us is ideal.
Please just don’t peel back the mask, please no grand reveal of our true humane nature.
See, just a subtle sound alteration is all that is needed
for our complete emancipation from any implication in something unkind.
After all this word is derived from our very species:
Humane from human.
We’re the fount of compassion.
Now here’s where the real beauty lies:
the real beauty of our lies is that WE humans dictate what is humane
no matter how profane an action may be—
you see it’s our word after all.
So we sing our own praises back and forth to each other
Teach our children about kindness, “now pass the turkey to your brother”
Lessons in sharing
carried out over corpses.
Manners in the face of murder are key,
gotta teach the kiddies not to question the grim reality of what’s on the very plate before them, please just ignore them, these bodies and secretions.
Call it meat and milk and ham and eggs
Focus on free-range and cage-free and grass-fed—
because we’re humane.
So we’ve come to it now.
The greatest lie ever told.
One so brazen and unapologetically bold in its utter transparency!
Yet so readily hungrily desperately accepted.
Clung to. Cared for.
A conscience-gnawing uncertain certainty we solidify and smooth over and pass down the line, telling our kids it’s okay it’s fine
From our generation to the next.
We teach what we know which is what we were taught:
the biggest lie ever bought and our own greatest trick,
is the sick conviction that we can kill in a way that is kind—
we can enslave and torture and beat and bind
and just don’t look it’s okay close your eyes, dear, it’s fine.
Don’t pull back the curtain, here, just open wide.
Let me sing you assurances. Let me drown out their screams.
Cause being part of the majority certainly means that we’re in the right.
It has to be
It’s meant to
It’s always been
We’re not monsters.
Block out the sheds full of feces
Put the blood behind doors.
Don’t look down to the floors
slick and pulsing with crimson from still-beating hearts
full of parts hacked from bodies for our satisfaction
Hold on tight, my dear, to the latest distraction and let the uncertainty pass
You are good.
You are kind.
Drink your milk here my dear
no thoughts of the child left behind with no mother or milk of his own
It’s our right to take it,
It’s not unbridled greed.
We’re good people.
We kill kindly
It’s not a farce, not a fable
Here’s the label.
Because bright and happy words on bright and happy products come from bright and happy farms with bright and happy animals with
They don’t feel a thing—
or they do but it’s okay—
it’s meant to be this way,
they’re not human!
Just don’t read the fine print, dear
see that’s where it all fails—
cause you know who they say lies there is in the details…
Back to him again.
Now I’m the liar I guess.
I must acquiesce that this was about the devil
Though please do recall the universality
cause it’s not about deity it’s us,
don’t you see?
The harsh reality uttered in 1920 by William Ralph Inge:
if animals could formulate their own religion
their most certain decision would be the most damning
to our fragile conviction of humane humanity-
built from their reality of hell on earth.
No need for ethereal theology,
because their depiction of the ultimate trickster
would be the real kicker – a true devil incarnate
the perpetrator of carnage so heinous
it renders our blindfolds transparent and torn,
for their devil, rightfully, takes human form.
— Unlearn the greatest lie through this speech —
For additional information, please see the videos linked at the base of this post. Undoing life-long beliefs is no easy task.
But in order to make a decision, in order to look ourselves in the mirror and ask if we are living the values we purport to have, we must know the truth.
We must educate ourselves about what is really going on, not rely on what we’ve been told. We must make decisions based on facts, not fantasy.
For those interested in the quotations referenced in this poem:
There’s a famous line in the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects delivered by Kevin Spacey’s character:
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”
While variations of this sentiment exist throughout history, the earliest and most commonly-attributed original source came 126 years prior in a prose poem by Charles Baudelaire, published posthumously in 1869. In this line, the devil himself is quoting the words of a preacher:
“My dear brothers, when you hear the progress of the enlightenment extolled, never forget that the devil’s cleverest trick is to persuade that he doesn’t exist.”
– Charles Baudelaire, “The Generous Gambler,” Le Spleen de Paris, 1869
The exact English wording varies depending on translator. The quote in the original French reads:
“Mes chers frères, n’oubliez jamais, quand vous entendrez vanter le progrès des lumières, que la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas!”
Towards the end of my poem I reference William Ralph Inge. Inge was an Anglican priest, author, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. In a talk delivered on May 27th, 1920 as part of the Romanes Lecture series, Inge made the profound statement that:
“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.”
-William Ralph Inge, “The Idea of Progress,” Romanes Lecture (27 May 1920)
Our abhorrent treatment of animals is nothing new. But we can break the chain and teach our children to nurture their inherent compassion rather than continue this lie’s propagation.
So remove the blindfold.
Let loose the justifications.
And open your eyes.
Please share this post to help others unlearn the greatest lie.
You can share this post via the share links at the base of the post and/or with this MEME and these pre-made tweets: The Greatest Lie | Unlearn The Lie | Take Off The Blindfold | We’re Not Monsters | Challenge Your Beleifs
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Let’s be truth-tellers and blindfold-burners.
Change starts with us.
— Emily Moran Barwick
sally anne hubbard says
So very true and very sad. How wonderful to teach children compassion for all beings instead of having to struggle in adulthood.
Victoria Hart says
Wow! Well done and bravo, Emily! This is a true piece of verbal art. Moving and magnificent!!
May the truth set us ALL free.
kathleen lavelle says
Just WOW !
So many lines were heart wrenching, you captured all the propaganda and truth and intertwined them in such a powerful way.
Jack McMillan says
Emily, this was/is just amazing. And so deeply heartfelt. Thank you. I am sharing widely.
I wanna learn this soo badly!
This poem is a fine piece of work tho. It’s gonna be hard to memorize.
Speechless. Brought tears to my eyes. So appreciating your content…life altering. Thank you!