On Contemporary Life & Culture

Truth can withstand scrutiny.  Truth can weather debate.  Anyone who says or acts otherwise should be questioned.  Whenever “the truth” needs to be protected from scrutiny, it likely isn’t the truth that’s being protected.  Whenever “the truth” needs to defended by shaming or silencing questioners, it likely isn’t the truth that’s being defended.  Red flags should go up whenever “the truth” is protected by taboos or fears, whether in religion or society or politics.  Insults should never substitute for arguments, nor learned prejudices for careful reasoning.  Some hide idiosyncratic preferences behind an apparent banner of “TRUTH” because they wish to justify forcing something on others that is, in the end, unjustifiable.  The truth can stand for itself.  This is not a diatribe against kindness or empathy either.  Real truth, real kindness, and real empathy are not at odds.  To think they are would be a terrible mistake.  An ethical pursuit of what’s true will be done with real kindness and empathy.  To suggest “kindness” or “empathy” should limit an honest pursuit of truth is a non-sequitur that also happens to obscure what kindness and empathy really are.

Empathy and diversity can become buzzwords without substance.  Sadly, it is possible to extol the virtues of empathy and diversity without really practicing empathy or welcoming diversity. There is something ironic whenever a proponent of empathy and diversity cannot stand listening to others express opinions that deviate from their own. What some advocates of “empathy” and “diversity” paradoxically want is for others to homogenize around their preferences, viewpoints, and values.  Selfishness is called empathy and uniformity is called diversity in some confused vocabularies.  Image and reality become estranged, with potentially tragic results.  This should trouble anyone who genuinely wishes to understand and welcome and celebrate other people without manipulating or forcing them to conform to oneself or one’s group as a prerequisite.  And it should likewise trouble anyone who cares about naming illusions in seeking what’s true.

If we don’t actively pursue the truth, individually and collectively, we may become “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching,” to use some words of the Apostle Paul.  Someone will always come fill whatever voids can be found in our minds and public spaces.  So for the love of truth, carefully question, honestly listen, critically discuss, and please speak your mind with all the integrity and conviction your heart can summon.

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