“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Abraham Lincoln’s aphorism is also a bit of a conundrum, in that it requires some mental agility to grasp the full meaning.
I don’t suppose there ever really can be a ‘full meaning’ though, in the sense of spotting all the angles, as each of us must read our own truth – or not – into it.
In any event, I’ve often wondered if this was a shortened version. Maybe the note-taker at the time, when Lincoln said it, couldn’t write fast enough, or simply thought that the final phrase wasn’t important.
More sinister though is the theory that Lincoln had hit the nail on the head with such an incisive truth about human nature that it was just too much for the person recording it. He or she immediately went into denial and ‘forgot’ to record the last few words, for they would have been “unless it’s yourself.”
Since pop-psychology made ’Denial’ part of every-day language the concept has been watered-down and lost some of its frightening implications. The popular definition of being ‘in denial’ is “unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality”* A bit light really.
The reality in this case would have been that some people fool themselves all the time, and it’s frightening because it’s true and we generally collude by letting them get away with it.
From politicians and power-mongers, to people who abuse themselves or others on a daily basis. There’s a wide spectrum of those who must fool themselves all the time just to get through life.
We all fool ourselves some of the time, and some of us fool ourselves all of the time.
* Definition: www.yourdictionary.com