Preaching to the Choir? Yes, but...

An essay in the LA Times today bemoans the fact that Americans today seem to only be interested in hearing opinions from others that reinforce what they already believe. ("Talking to Ourselves")

Susan Jacoby writes:

"As dumbness has been defined downward in American public life during the last two decades, one of the most important and frequently overlooked culprits is the public's increasing reluctance to give a fair hearing -- or any hearing at all -- to opposing points of view. Whether watching television news, consulting political blogs or (more rarely) reading books, Americans today have become a people in search of validation for opinions that they already hold. This absence of curiosity about other points of view is the essence of anti-intellectualism and represents a major departure from the nation's best cultural traditions."

Well, I agree with Jacoby, on the one hand, that most people seek, often desperately so, to only have their already established, long-held beliefs validated by others. On the other hand, I also know that opening up to different opinions is merely a half-way step towards an enlightened society. A truly enlightened society, or person, would strive to eliminate beliefs and opinions altogether, and seek... the Truth.
Ah, the Truth. Relativists would say that truth is personal, subjective, and therefore relative, right? "Your truth" versus "my truth," etc. But "Truth,"with a capital "T," does not exist, does it?
Well, let's make it really simple. If it's 45 degrees outside and raining, my truth is that it's a lousy day, weather-wise. But I have crazy friends who love cool, rainy days, so for them, the truth is it's a nice day. My truth versus their truth. But THE Truth is it's 45 degrees and raining. Get it? On a larger scale, one person may say the war in Iraq is justified because it may be protecting American interests. Another person says the war is unjust and damaging American interests. The Truth is that many thousands of people have been killed in a war whose initiators lied about the reasons for starting it. Get it? That's not an opinion. It's just the Truth. Some people say Hillary Clinton would be a better president than Barack Obama. Some people say Obama would be better. Opinions, nothing more, and useless as far as the Truth is concerned. What I know is that I haven't voted for a president since I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980 (Who ran on a platform of telling the truth, by the way). I voted for Obama in the NY State primary this year because I was moved to do so by the Truth of what I saw and heard. A friend of mine, distressed at my choice, asked me at the time: "But do you know and agree with all of his policies?" I answered that I didn't need to know all of that in full detail because I could see the Truth of who he was as a potential leader, and that's why I was voting again for the first time in twenty years. I could also see the Truth that Hillary and Bill Clinton are a driven, dysfunctional folie a deux for whom the Truth is merely a potential interference to their ambition.
The Truth will set you free, folks, but your beliefs and opinions will keep you trapped in an endless search for others who agree with you. That is a lonely endeavor, ultimately, because when we are rooted in beliefs, and therefore not in Truth, we are alienated from ourselves, and there is nothing more lonely than that.

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