THE TRUE COST OF DELUSION


Tito and Amanda Watts were arrested over the weekend for selling “golden tickets to heaven” to hundreds of people. The couple, who sold the tickets on the street for $99.99 per ticket, told buyers the tickets were made from solid gold and each ticket reserved the buyer a spot in heaven — simply present the ticket at the pearly gates and you’re in.

selling-golden-tickets

“People can sell tickets to heaven,” a Jacksonville police spokesman said. “But the Watts misrepresented their product. The tickets were just wood spray painted gold with ‘Ticket To Heaven – Admit One’ written in marker. You can’t sell something as gold when it’s not. That’s where the Watts crossed the line into doing something illegal.”

Tito Watts said in his police statement:

I don’t care what the police say. The tickets are solid gold… it ain’t cut up two by fours I spray painted gold. And it was Jesus who give them to me behind the KFC and said to sell them so I could get me some money to go to outer space. I met an alien named Stevie who said if I got the cash together he’d take me and my wife on his flying saucer to his planet that’s made entirely of crack cocaine. You can smoke all the crack cocaine there you want… totally free. So, try to send an innocent man to jail and see what happens. You should arrest Jesus because he’s the one that gave me the golden tickets and said to sell them. I’m willing to wear a wire and set Jesus up…

Amanda Watts said in her police statement:

We just wanted to leave earth and go to space and smoke rock cocaine. I didn’t do nothing. Tito sold the golden tickets to heaven. I just watched.

Police said they confiscated over $10,000 in cash, five crack pipes and a baby alligator.

This story has made its rounds on the Internet and produced a chuckle and much head-shaking from readers who enjoy laughing at the antics of the stupid and deranged.  But apart from their lack of sophistication, crack addiction and poverty, how are their delusions fundamentally different from those of wealthy super-church pastors?  And now does one get to this point, anyway?

One step at a time.  Most people lose their way in increments.  Smoking cocaine will get you where you want to go faster, but it’s still a process of one bad decision following another.  You get an idea, you entertain that idea until you forget that it was once just an idea you had and not a fact, and then you start making erroneous assumptions, some of which seem to pan out.  If you’re lost in the woods and you find that the path you’ve been walking down for the last few hours was the wrong one, there in only one way to remedy that situation.  You have to admit that this is the wrong path, retrace your steps and start over again. Sometimes that choice seems too difficult to entertain, so you apply almost the same amount of energy to convincing yourself that this is the right path despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary.

If you accept one preposterous assumption, it’s much easier to embrace the next one.  If you live next to the dumpster behind the KFC, and talk to people who hang out in that neighborhood, you’ve pre-selected the people who might be able to give you an objective overview of your universe. And if you all smoke crack together, then anything is possible.

But if you work on Wall Street and sell derivatives, is that a whole lot different than selling tickets to heaven?  Remember, the derivative market in 2008 was responsible for the greatest “legal” transfer of the wealth in the history of the world. People all over  he world are still paying the price for that one.

Even though in our most liberal moments we  might like to believe that all ideas have some validity, it’s simply not the case.  Some notions are more grounded in reality than others.  Delusion has a cost, and followed to its logical end, it ends up costing everything.  The concepts of truth and falsehood are only interchangeable in the short run.

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