Christie Marston, granddaughter of Wonder Woman creator is quoted saying that, “Wonder Woman is about two things: Love and Fair Play”. Last year I wrote a “WWWWD about the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump” article which weighed extra heavy on one of her primary messages: Love. It’s been just over a year since his inauguration, and after a cyclone of events, I have no choice but to now focus on her secondary message: Fair Play. Why, you ask? Because over the last 60 weeks there has been a barrage of behaviors encouraging inequality which has included (but is not limited to): name calling, bullying, taunting, intimidation, misinformation, misrepresentation, and just plain ole’ lying coming from the current Executive Branch of this White House administration. It has has both disappointed me and hurt me in multiple ways. I am disappointed because I initially embraced with a open heart, gave the benefit of the doubt, and based my stance on Wonder Woman’s first message (love). As as minority, it has hurt me to see an attempt to retract civil rights, religious groups overtly legally assaulted, and minorities (including many of my own) vilified (often via dog whistle politics). Yet, of all the behaviors, it’s the blatant lying and endorsement of easily provable lies, which has stood out to me as the most problematic.
Truth is a through line which operates as a foundation that unites us. It’s a cohesive material for societal unity and productivity, but over the last 2 years the idea of truth has been corroded, and incendiary behavior has been glorified. At this very moment someone is reading this and pontificating how invalid it is to claim that anyone in power has purported lies, even as evidence exists proving that lies have been purported. Truth plays one of the most important parts in the equation for ensuring fair play. “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” Yet, as we know, all men are not treated equally, and this unequal treatment is reinforced. Since the birth of our great nation, we can trace how the inequalities to which we give merit are often based on misconception, perception, assumption, and preconceived notions; A lack of facts and/or truth.
Seeing this happen with such alarming frequency over the last year, and seeing an entire branch of the Government in support of it, has created an internal conflict for me. I want to support and I want to walk the path of love, but I am torn. Why does history keep repeating itself? What can I do to help in the efforts to ensure Fair Play for all? And how can I walk the path of the warrior of peace? Today, I plan on taking a very good look at why we as humans operate on perception, assumption, and preconceived notions, and how we can correct it by asking what, for me, has become ‘the age old question’. It’s time for me to ask, ‘What Would Wonder Woman Do’ about the lack of truth in American society?
NO ONE CAN RESIST THE GOLDEN LASSO
First off, let me address what many who are reading this column for the first or second time might be thinking, which is that Wonder Woman and politics don’t mix. This is false. The truth is that Wonder Woman was born out of politics. She was conceived in 1941 during World War II as a piece of psychological propaganda to assist humanity in course correcting from the atrocious hate and oppression of the time, and was even based off many of the inequalities of the time; Specifically those suffered by women. Love and Fair Play were the messages Wonder Woman brought forth as a necessary antidote needed back then. It would seem they are needed again, and more than ever before. The division in culture and polarization of sides, has required her equally binary message. A vital and absolutely necessary element for us to again course correct in our current era. But how do we include them? Well, we must first have truth. As the bible says, “…you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32). Truth and authenticity are a catalyst. An access to power, if you will, which seems to also be a biblical idea, and has transcended the centuries.
As a psychologist, Dr. William Moulton Marston III must have been tapped into this idea, as the Amazing Amazon seemed to often utilize truth as a kind of weapon in her fight against hate and oppression during the Marston adventures; Mostly retrieving essential information during brief interrogation to aid her in apprehending villains. As a graduate student at Harvard, he began introducing some of his theory about truth, and became the forefather of the lie detector. So, it’s not surprising that many of Diana’s stories included this and sometimes visually reflected the process used in his systolic blood pressure test machine. I can only guess all of the aforementioned is why the lasso’s power, which was originally that of compulsion, was naturally associated with and evolved to also be a lasso of truth.
There really is something spiritually foundational to the human experience about truth as an access to power. I’ve been so happy to bear witness to so many Wonder Woman writers and artists explore this idea. George Perez , Phil Jimenez, Gail Simone, and Greg Rucka are those that immediately come to mind. In Rucka’s run, aptly titled “Lies & the Truth”, there are two scenes that perfectly illustrate this. The first is a scene drawn by Nicola Scott where the truth was a basic and there was actually space and room for compassion and fairness. This is an immaculate depiction of the exact representation our heroine brings forth. It’s what Wonder Woman is about. It is her message. It is who she is as a character. Her ability to use truth as a tool for love’s healing, unification, communion, and ability to open the door for providing fairness. It’s power is unmistakable and it’s concept has always been an essential component of the Wonder Woman mythos. But how do we emulate her example?
LASSO THE TRUTH
There is one truth to which I’m very present, and it is that lying originates from one place: us. Due to human nature, we as individuals are the author of lies. The genesis of a lie is on the individual level. However, they become potent on the collective level. It’s through the process of agreement reality which spreads lies in virus-like fashion, and gives them the power of creating chaos, division, and inequality. Therefore, I believe that if we can learn to correct a lie at it’s inception, which is on the individual level, we will almost self-innoculate. My theory is that this is cone by following Wonder Woman’s child-like inquisitional example of ‘Lassoing The Truth’ in ourselves.
In similar fashion that Phil Jimenez’s Wonder Woman was forced to be authentic while wearing the lasso, we must develop ways to detect the lies within ourselves. Lie detection seemed to be one of Dr. Marston’s specialties, as some of his most popular professional psychological work revolved around the topic. I think that it’s important to note that WMM III observed that lying puts stress on the body. So it would be easy to conclude that being truthful was healthier. Since Marston began his work as a Harvard graduate, I thought it might be interesting to look at another Harvard graduate’s work, who’s work paralleled his, focusing on how humans “short circuit” reality based on the assumptions and beliefs we develop; Basically how we create lies. I’m talking about Chris Argyris’s Ladder Of Inference. The Ladder consists of seven steps which may happen thousands of times a day, and examines how we (in the blink of an eye) process experiences. I’ve ordered the seven steps into 3 sections with corresponding advice on how we might follow Wonder Woman’s example and lasso the truth in ourselves. I hope you enjoy!
STEP ONE in the Ladder of Inference is where we first take in the facts of a situation. It’s where we get the raw data and observations of our experiences. I put this step in a category all by itself because it’s after this first step that we begin to veer off course. However, if we had not abandoned facts in the first place, which are the foundation of truth, then we probably would not need to move to the next step.
In her early adventures, Wonder Woman’s need for authentic and accurate information in her fight against hate and oppression was invaluable, and we saw in the Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot that this idea hasn’t changed. Yet acquiring factual information is not often an easy task. Being in a brand new and strange patriarchal society, I am sure Diana would often want to reject the atrocities she perceived around her. Yet she continually chooses to understand and accept what is going on around her. She stays true to the circumstances. If she didn’t, then she wouldn’t be able to properly affect change. Staying true to the circumstances is not an easy task, but it is one that we can replicate even without gods given powers. Therefore, to me this reminds us that we must follow in her footsteps of ALWAYS sticking to the truth.
FABRICATION OF FICTION:
Next four steps in the Ladder Of Inference (2, 3, 4, & 5) are the parts where we begin to filter and fabricate from the experiences that we have. STEP TWO (Filtering) is where we, based on our preferences, tendencies, and many other aspects that we believe are important, we filter specific information and details from our experiences. In STEP THREE (Assign Meaning) is where we begin interpreting what our information is telling us, and assign meaning to the information that we have filtered through. STEP FOUR (Assumptions) is where we blur the distinction between what is fact and what is story and develop presumptions. In STEP THREE (Conclusions) is where we have emotional reactions due to the conclusions we have developed based on our assumptions.
Since all of these steps have to do with bias, I clumped them all together. During the early Marston adventures, the golden lasso was often utilized to get people to obey commands in an effort to help them become better. In Sensation Comics #19, Wonder Woman herself falls off course and is prey to falling off course. The magic lasso is used to bring her back to her senses and get her back on track. To me, this illustrated how we as humans can do our own course correcting. ‘Habitualizing’ following the path of truth, can help us bypass the human need to (often inaccurately) assign meaning, make assumptions, and draw conclusions. Therefore, I see the second lesson is that we must learn objectivity.
The last two steps (6 and 7) in the ladder have to do with how we exist in the world around us. In STEP SIX we (including the person or people involved in our current experience) adjust our beliefs about the world around us. Then in STEP SEVEN (take action) based on our adjusted beliefs, we take actions.
If you haven’t based things on fact, and aren’t objective, then these two last steps can have the consequences which lead to us acting upon our personal assumptions and conclusions, or following blindly without the truth. During many of her early adventures, Wonder Woman is seen questioning people in counseling (‘tell me your story’), investigatory, and interrogatory fashions. Following others blindly didn’t seem to be how she operated. I believe this is because she had a strong core and center. Matter of fact, she even reveals at one very early point that the secret to her strength lies in her confidence. Christianity refers to truth as piece of the Armor of God, sometimes called The belt of Truth, in Ephesians 6:10-18. I find it to be no coincidence that, in the New Testament, truth is depicted as a belt which girds your center, or ‘hara’ as it is called in some Martial Arts, the cradle of the Soul. It is the intersection of mind and body. Therefore, I believe that this brings us to our last and final lesson. In order to have confidence, we must truly Know ourselves.
CHANGE OUR MINDS, CHANGE THE WORLD
Over the past year and a half, I have seen many in society willfully ignoring facts, and still presenting them as a true story. This is what lying is, and It leaves us powerless, creates conflict, and corrodes the cohesive material needed to unify us, which is truth. After reaching into Wonder Woman’s mythology, I found her golden lasso to be a metaphor for how to emulate her example. We must follow in her footsteps and lasso The Truth, specifically in ourselves, because that is the birthplace of all lies. Each one of us are a part of the global society, and share the responsibility of adhering to the ideal of truth. Therefore, Wonder woman’s example can only exult and heal us.
Lassoing the truth in ourselves can be difficult, because it requires a level of vulnerability. But as Marston observed, lying actually puts stress on the body, while being vulnerable, truthful, and authentic allows us to operate in better health, and is an access to incredible power. In a sense, learning this tool is a kind of rigorous Amazon training. Work and training is not an easy path, but the rewards are well worth it. If we practice always sticking to the truth, practice learning objectivity, and practice knowing ourselves, we will be lassoing the truth in no time! Additionally, the faster that we as a society learn being truthful, the sooner we will see our collective consciousness unify and grow along with our increased productivity. So go out and develop your own practices for sticking to the truth, being objective, and knowing yourself. Share your practices with your friends. It’s how you will lasso the truth, and I truly believe it’s what Wonder Woman would do. And as George Perez’s Diana said, “Remember your power!”. With it, we truly can change the world.