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Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

Truth in perspective

In philosophy, reflections, Uncategorized on February 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm

What is truth? This is one of the oldest questions in existence. We tend to take it for granted. We think we know what truth is. Except what we often think of as truth is merely opinion.

My truth may be different from your truth. And yours different from someone else’s. Every single person on the planet has a variation of what is the truth, even babies. And truth can be hurtful, even destructive when treated dogmatically.

One person’s facts are just opinions and speculation to another. To someone locked in on the truth, that statement will often cause tempers to flair with much huffing and puffing about what truth is… to them and often with complete disregard to what you might believe. It is one of the many reasons we are so polarized politically in this country. Both sides are wedded to their own “truths,” unwilling to even consider the other’s viewpoint.

Think of it this way, my favorite is the “fact” that the sun rises every morning. It’s what we grew up with. Everyone knows it to be true. Except it isn’t, except from our perspective. The earth rotates to face the sun every morning. The sun stays put, the earth moves.

Perspective, that what ends up defining our “truths.” It ends up defining what we perceive to be good or bad.

So, what is truth? That may be unanswerable. Maybe a better question should be, what is your perspective?

enemies of interest

In civilization, humanity, opinion, philosophy, politics on February 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

There is a belief that people of differing viewpoints cannot be friends. partners, or even associate civilly. I can understand why given the reflexive treatment “enemies of interest” are given in public forums.

Christians beat up on atheists. Atheists sneer at religionists. The far right and the far left both seem intent on maintaining the highest degree of incivility that can be fostered in public forums.

If you believe “differently,” you aren’t one of us. I have seen parents disallow their children from attending a friend’s sleepover because the friend’s parents are, gasp, (insert most likely to arouse your passion.)

Indeed, it seems like the natural human state is to label, segregate, and actively dislike/hate somebody or some group, The differences for much of history seem to be religious in nature. As we moved towards greater freedom of religion, we shifted to race based hate. As we began to view racism with disgust, our society shifted its need for reflexive dislike to political differences.

I teach. I don’t allow divisive chatter in the classroom. If you are my student and say “I hate (fill in the blank.)” I will ask you why you “hate” that something. Usually I get one of two reactions, either a vociferous defense or a sheepish look of complete ignorance. Most of the time what they actually feel is mere dislike or, worst, just ignorance. At this point I get the opportunity to point out that don’t really hate, they just strongly dislike.

Active and cultivated hate is corrosive and divisive. It has led, usually from small seeds, to deaths of millions through the course of humankind’s existence.

Think about that, no matter how justified you believe your “hate” is the next time you express yourself.

Are you really committed to making the world a better place?

Or are you just adding fuel to the fire?

And now, satire. I offer Tom Lehrer and National Brotherhood Week (1967) for enjoyment and consideration.