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Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023

Appearances Can Still Be Deceiving


We are losing sight of truly meaningful qualities

Have you ever lost something valuable and felt lost without it? I’m not talking about personal relationships or losing a family member or close friend, but “something” that represented who you are (or were) – what defined your identity. Maybe it was a piece of jewelry, like a wedding ring lost at the beach, that held great sentimental value.

Perhaps it was a job or career that people always associated you with. Maybe it was the diminution of one’s physical abilities or appearances due to an injury, illness or aging. Or perhaps it was losing your financial success, fame or influence.

But in all of these instances, they are merely outward appearances. The proverbial saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is a poignant reminder that there’s far more to a person than what meets the eye. Yet in a world dominated by social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where appearances are carefully curated and life is presented through rose-tinted filters, the significance of what lies beneath the surface often gets lost in the virtual spectacle. We find ourselves trapped in a web where outward appearances reign supreme, overshadowing the profound importance of who we are and what we are becoming.

Human history is replete with examples where appearances are deceived. For instance, the Greek myth of Pandora’s box warns against succumbing to superficial allure. Similarly, the story of the ugly duckling reminds us that transformation and beauty often emerge from unexpected places. And then there is the old adage, “All that glitters isn’t gold.”

Yet, in the digital age, these timeless lessons seem to have faded into oblivion as we scroll through picture-perfect feeds, comparing ourselves to glossy illusions that are, more often than not, far from reality. While this practice might seem harmless, it engenders a dangerous mindset – one that values appearances over substance, a façade instead of cultivating our human qualities of empathy, resilience and authenticity.

And in this election year (and the one coming up in 2024), distinguishing between what’s real and not is more important than ever. For example, when we, the people, express our opposition to defunding the police or considering parents as domestic terrorists, or protesting drag-queen story hour at our public libraries or the genital mutilation of minors, when we write and call Congress to protect life, to protect our borders, and to hold our government officials accountable for their misconduct, it’s more than just how it looks.

It’s what it all means to who we are becoming.

And what we’re losing in the process. For example, we’re losing a society that values meaningful contributions over popularity or a people who value principles more than just how it makes them look.

The problem is that when society emphasizes how something may appear, it inadvertently diminishes the importance of substantive qualities that shape our interactions and relationships. A superficial pursuit of physical beauty or material success overshadows meaningful principles such as kindness, integrity, empathy and respect. As a result, individuals often prioritize personal gain at the expense of ethical considerations, leading to a society rife with “your truth” and “my truth” and the erosion of ethics altogether.

So, is there any surprise that we’re increasingly electing public officials who just “look” good but may be anything but?

And yes, I know, maybe you’ve always voted the same way, for the same types of candidates, year after year. They’ve all looked the same and sounded the same – on the outside (at least)

What’s been the harm in that?

Well, it doesn’t take long to see. Just look around this state to see what we’ve lost as a result.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.


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