Monday, January 10, 2011

Knowing objective truth


By listening, we can learn to hear again
By observing, we can learn to see again
By conversing, we can learn to speak again

Only by turning OFF the media-fed stories can we hear our own story, and by shutting off the stream of images we can see what is real. By speaking and listening, even in the market, we can, again, capture our own voice...
...Michael Savage, "Psychological Nudity" 2008
This introductory quote from Savage's recent book struck home with me as I continue to grapple with the lack of objectivity in our society. We face so many grave debates and decisions to turn our world around from its current conflicts, moral challenges and economic depression, yet most debates or articles I see on various issues in the press or in books seem totally devoid of objectivity.

I would just once like to hear a debate, or even a private discussion, where someone admits their view was now wrong or too extreme based on a more rational argument from the other side. Yet, human nature seems to dictate we defend our traditional view to our dying breath...no matter how irrational those views may be. It reminds me of an old cigarette commercial..."I'd rather fight than switch". Even if something (such as excessive smoking) is killing us, it seems our nature to rationalize and even fictionalize support for  our worst ideas and habits.

I would suggest that our lack of objectivity in life is "killing us" in many ways. People are not open to change. People are not that interested in getting "educated". A majority of people are not interested nor able to travel and experience new cultures and ideas. A majority of people live in their "backyards" their whole lives with little exposure to "otherness".  I am convinced a majority of people even in the first world don't even READ about other cultures or viewpoints. Most people get their world views from books over 2000 years old, TV guide and socially ingrained family traditions.

One ray of hope seems to be the power of the internet to bring worldwide information, videos and social interaction to the screen in front of us. Yet, statistics show pornography to be the most clicked on content of the "world wide web".  I am not one for governments to tell us what we can or can't see on media...but it sure would be refreshing to see more human interest in understanding the world around them versus idle fantasy via porn or "star watching" online.

Unfortunately, no matter what the medium or freedom level a world citizen has at their disposal...at the end of the day each person determines or "clicks on" their information of choice. I for one have always been interested in both sides of a debate. Even if I fall on one side or the other, it helps me be more "objective" if I at least TRY to understand the opposite rationale.  Its good to take a side...and on some subjects there comes a time when you HAVE to commit to one view or another...but it is still humane and wise to understand the other side as well...if only to predict what the results are going to be on one subject or the other and how to plan for those results.

It has struck me lately that in most of the exchanges of differing views I have experienced, few people opposite me have questioned my rationale or even demonstrated an interest in understanding another point of view. I end up doing most of the questioning or challenging of the opposite viewpoint much to my chagrin...and probably their irritation. Personally, I like being challenged by someone about my opinions or views...yet I have been told that people are afraid to challenge me because I "feel or express my views so strongly".  Do people think I am so weak minded as to not tolerate difference?  Or are people so afraid of being challenged in their views that they would rather not engage in honest dialogue?  These are the fears and emptiness of ideas that allow our world and society to be continually manipulated or painted into a corner ideologically. I would suggest a majority in the world have very little objective foundation intellectually upon which to build their lives.

I get alarmed sometimes at the strong differences of opinion I observe on Facebook exchanges and other social media. Yet, for all the alarm I think many extreme expressions are finally coming out for all to see. If we don't see and hear the extremes...we will never understand the world at large and will probably become victims of our own naivety.

I say bring on the debate. Give the world your best shot at understanding your viewpoints and thinking. If you get shot down or blown out of the water with better rationale, it is better to eventually know the truth than to live a lie your whole life. If your truth holds up under scrutiny...then you are probably helping some very confused people in the world find surer intellectual footing to base their life upon.

Without listening, observing and communicating...you will never know objective truth.

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