Monday, December 14, 2015

Instinct, Morality, and the Pursuit of Truth

Just some simple thoughts from this rural Iowan who has made St. Paul his home for 20 years. An issue which keeps me up at night when I consider the kind of world in which I am raising my children, is the unwillingness for many humans in a community to do the really hard work of honest investigation into matters of knowledge.  Most it seems are inclined to rest comfortably in superficiality.

In this state of mind, information contrary to our experience is often viewed as an attack upon our values. With our convictions left unchecked we have a tendency to do anything to defeat our attacker.  Discussion turns to adversarial contest where lies and misinformation are prized if it helps win.

Unchecked instincts are what motivate us toward the acquisition of wealth, power, and prestige, placing them as our final good.. There are entire industries out there which freely exploit these instincts:  advertisements, reality and gossip centered TV shows, the bulk of talk radio shows, negative political ads, 140 character tweets and Facebook posts,  bathroom graffiti, sound-bytes,bumper stickers, billboards, mass e-mails of spurious content, cheer-leading, etc. -- If any of these avenues spark in us emotions of anger or smugness, it is a warning sign, that we are being lazy if we do not take time to thoroughly investigate the claims.  For without sincere investigation, we can make no claim to pursuing Truth.  Unchecked, convictions are seriously unhealthy for the development of personal character.  This is a requirement of the liberated person in a functioning democracy which tries to build strength through community.

Raising each other up and pursuing knowledge and success in life is not a politically divisive issue.

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