Use Your Illusion


—Andy Hunt

06/19/2003
Published in Andy's Blog

I’m not one for biography or history books, but I found myself reading “The Last Lion” by William Manchester—the story of Winston Churchill in the years leading up to World War II.

The amazing to me was that so many individuals and governments were perfectly aware of the rise of a newly-armed Germany, in blatant violation of treaty obligations, yet who chose to simply ignore it. Herr Hitler promised that each aggressive move would be his last, and a war-weary world sat back and said “well, okay. Just this once” again and again.

Yet while we sit back and laugh or condemn the events and attitudes of that time, the biographer makes a stunningly obvious observation:

Every generation cherishes illusions which baffle its successors (who passionately defend their own).

How on earth could they have fallen for it? we ask, not realizing that our children and grandchildren will say the exact same thing about us concerning the grand affairs of the world.

Pragmatism insists on a certain amount of skepticism. Anyone can shower you with claims, but how many can actually back them up? Individuals get away with ill-founded claims every day in business, whether it has to do with the predatory practices of Microsoft or the peculiar provenance of Linux. I won’t even mention that fact that some skilled politicians can even get whole countries to go to war—apparently unencumbered by actual, provable facts.

And whose fault is that? The business analysts, the politicians, or the media? Nope, none of the above. The fault is ours and ours alone. It is up to us to seek proof of our convictions, whatever they may be.

It is up to us to decide which is right—and which is an illusion.

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