Monday, November 03, 2014

Some Observation on Truth from Robert G. Ingersoll in time for the 2014 election

By Gary Berg-Cross

As you can probably tell, the flood of insincerity abroad in our politics. It’s a stunning mix of strange, false & brazenly cheesy with intrusive fear paralyzing ads to boot (note - Overall ad spending has broken $1 billion in federal elections and state governors’ races,according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP)). Of course there is plenty to fear with war, pestilence and poverty abroad in the land also along with "shady,deep-pocket dark money from the establishment that undermines what we call "Democracy." Indeed all these fears can get rolled into campaigns like Scott Brown who warns that ISIS might cross the border, and bring Ebola with themAll this conservative talk about things like "restoring the values of the Christian family" moves us away from reality.
Over 100 years ago Robert Ingersoll warned about message like this that use religious beliefs in hard times to impose faith-based values about morality and the like.  He recognized the methods of silencing people with alternate opinions and even denying the vote to those not favored by class or ethnicity.  His antidote, summarized in a booklet called “The Truth” (sometimes package with another pamphlet call Ghosts) was a dose of rationality and truth with ideas forged in the Enlightenment  after the “c
ountless years” we had “groped and crawled and struggled and climbed and stumbled toward the light after being “hindered and delayed and deceived “  In Ingersoll’s time the foundation was given a boost by Darwin’s evidence-based theory of evolutions. So armed humanity seemed hungry for the facts and ready to accept Science as a benefactor.  Ingersoll’s apt observation was that:

 “Nothing is greater, nothing is of more importance, than to find amid the errors and darkness of this life, a shining truth. Truth is the intellectual wealth of the world. Truth is the mother of joy. Truth civilizes, ennobles, and purifies. The grandest ambition that can enter the soul is to know the truth.
Truth gives man the greatest power for good. Truth is sword and shield. It is the sacred light of the soul.
The man who finds a truth lights a torch.”

Like many Ingersoll would be disappointed to find so few of us with the right sword, shield or torch to spark our inner light of understanding and to speak honestly from deep conviction. Instead we are still under the say of politically correct belief buttressed by invisible ghosts of prejudiced conclusions that steals the truth from us like a mix of a tyrant and a beggar. There are just still too many factors, as Ingersoll observed, lingering from our primitive past  that hinder us from examining issues.

“Prejudice, egotism, hatred, contempt, disdain, are the enemies of truth and progress. .... all questions presented to his mind, without prejudice, -- unbiased by hatred or love -- by desire or fear.” 

Our political process and its allies tries to prevent open inquiry by “force or fear” which  is doing all it can to “degrade and enslave” us still.
In part we have not taken up with full enthusiasm the path to the truth - by investigation, experiment and reason.  We are still prey to a truth short-circuit of that self-controlled exploratory path. Open investigation of issues is still difficult and ill-supported with some topics too sensitive to discuss.  Instead we are swallowed by the dishonest propaganda of conventional and mainstream, politically correct thinking and truthiness. It comes mixed in with talking points and slogan that hide reality like a Wall Street insider.

A final thought is that those who can cut through the fog of politics to a better understanding have the obligation to reach out as Ingersoll did and communicate and to be a concerned citizen:

“If it be good for man to find the truth -- good for him to be intellectually honest and hospitable, then it is good for others to know the truths thus found.

Every man should have the courage to give his honest thought. This makes the finder and publisher of truth a public benefactor.

Those who prevent, or try to prevent, the expression of honest thought, are the foes of civilization -- the enemies of truth. Nothing can exceed the egotism and impudence of the man who claims the right to express his thought and denies the same right to others.
It will not do to say that certain ideas are sacred, and that man has not the right to investigate and test these ideas for himself."
And oh yes, vote your wisdom.

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