Truth – what we sorely need

It’s January 1st, 2017. The new year, like all beginnings, prompts many people to consider the future, and the past. It prompts me to step back and take a look at the big picture of what’s going on, in myself, in our country and around the globe. I won’t make resolutions – just some observations and interpretations about our rapidly changing world.

It’s obvious from even a casual look at various popular media, both print and corporate TV news, that the American public is glad to be rid of 2016. It’s a feeling of ‘good riddance’. A look at other sources, which go beyond the popular fare (I prefer public radio, and various chosen blog sites, because they go deeper) will show that this feeling extends beyond our country’s borders, but primarily among the countries impacted by American  politics and international policies.

The reason for this ‘good riddance’ attitude to 2016 is generally that it was a time of chaotic and conflicting ideas about how our government should be run, and what it has failed to do. Most of this chaos came from the ridiculously long election campaign – typically up to 2 years – promoted by the popular media, as an endless source of entertainment, designed to keep people coming back for more, to benefit the  media themselves, and those in political and financial power whose interests they serve. Nowhere in this chaos that calls itself ‘news’ is there any hint of interest in finding truth, either on the part of the idea promoters, or the public who find their offerings entertaining and distracting. The recent addition of talk about ‘fake  news’, and its alleged connection to the Russian government, just adds another dimension to the self-serving  aims of these same political and financial manipulators.

I don’t think citizens of western nations should expect that 2017 will be better. And certainly that is true for the rest of the non-western world, so torn by opposing factions, hatred and  open  war – much of which are the outcomes of the work of the same self-interested manipulators and the agencies they control, which have been increasing in the West for the past , say, 45 years, as their power and influence for the bad expands around the world. Being relieved that 2016 has ended is only the result of thinking that anything would be better. The populist movement that led to the rejection of government-as-usual in this country, and a contest between two very bad candidates, is echoed in similar movements to break away from Europe. Great Britain has done it. Greece tried to do it, and eventually will. And break-away movements are growing in Spain, Italy and perhaps France, as their declining economies bring out nationalist, right-wing demagogic reactions, and scapegoating of whatever people have come into their countries who are ‘different’. Historically these reactionary developments are not only in modern times.

I’ve been interested all my life in critiquing ideas, and in adult years, trying to encourage students, children, friends – even casual acquaintances – to get engaged in the effort  to distinguish truth from opinion and falsity. (It’s a losing cause, in my experience.) So my reaction to these contemporary events is neither surprise nor discouragement. It is just a confirmation of my opinion that what we need most, individually and  culturally, is truth – a belief in its existence, and a commitment to look for  it – even if we can only hope to get close to it  at times. So I’ll refer you to an article published a few days ago, by the editor  of The Automatic Earth, on the absence of truth in public discourse, and the widespread ridicule of the  belief that truth is any more than a quaint, old-fashioned, impractical idea. This is not a cheerful piece, but I think it gives a correct analysis, by another long-time observer, and progressive social critic, Raul Ilargi Meijer. https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2016/12/2017-where-the-truth-lies/

 

 

About justin

Justin retired from a long career, teaching philosophy, world religions and humanities in and near Chicago. Above all, critical thinking has been his teaching goal - i.e. to encourage the habit of asking questions, and looking for answers that are well supported by reasoning. His style is to engage people in discussion in a relaxed atmosphere. His goal is to be a true philosopher ('lover of wisdom') and show others the value of a generous, open-minded and objective search for the biggest, truest picture of reality possible. It may sound old fashioned today, but he believes there is a reality which is approachable, and worth looking for. His motto is “Once a thinker, always a thinker.” He continues the journey over the Web, seeking interaction with students, friends and strangers, through essays, books and blog posts.
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