Do you want the truth?
Do you really? About twenty years ago in the movie courtroom drama “A Few Good Men” a young Navy lawyer shouted at a tough Marine Colonel on the witness stand, “I WANT THE TRUTH” the Colonel shouted back “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.” The Colonel was responding to the young lawyer, but he was actually accusing all of us of accepting only what we want the truth to be. Sometimes reality is so counter to our beliefs and opinions that no amount of evidence can move us off our mark.
In fact, sometimes we are so personally invested in our point of view that acceptance of the opposite can change our self image and confuse us as to where we fit in the world. Our opinion of a certain issue is not just a thought out analysis of facts, it is often part of who we are. It validates us as a member of a select group and makes us one of the faithful.
It is very difficult to find individuals who are fair minded, objective and respectful of the truth no matter what it is. It is far easier to identify people who are dead set against: corporations, unions, capitalism, wealthy executives, big government, environmentalists, liberal professors, atheists, abortion, gay marriage, military, believers and non-believers in human caused global warming, racism, the NRA, etc.
To this second group, only that which reinforces their bias is welcome and any source of information that is likely to counter it is strictly avoided. The tragedy is that those who would be our leaders know how to manipulate and work bias to their advantage and the result is bad leaders and bad laws.
Since the beginning of our Republic, we have had opposing groups whose contempt for each other has overridden any desire to “Form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the Common Defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
It may be that as we close in on our two hundred and fiftieth year we are no closer to the dream of a”More Perfect Union” than when we began. In fact, it could be the technology of modern communications and highly sophisticated methods of managing public opinion are driving us even farther apart.
Our future progress depends almost entirely on our willingness to respect the truth and each other. What a novel idea.