I left this comment a little while ago, and I decided I needed to expand on it.
In the Bible, we are exhorted to read the Bible and to know the foundation of our faith very deeply. Then, it is said, we will not be tossed about the the winds and waves of life. From a spiritual perspective, I must say that I have definitely seen the truth of this. I am not a great man, not endowed with iron will, not able to divorce myself from feelings that could cripple me and make it impossible for me to function. I have never shown a great capacity to “pull myself up by my own bootstraps.” Yet, I have a deep knowledge of God’s promises to me. I have read the scriptures time and time again. I know that St. John tells us, “Is anyone in trouble? He should pray.” I know from experience that not praying brings no end to trouble, but praying and trusting God always brings a way out. Most of the time, God helps me best when I don’t get in his way. In other words, I know who has the real power to change my life, and it isn’t me. (There is no logical way for me to explain this to anyone. This in one kind of knowledge of God that can only be had by experience. For those who have experienced it, you know I’m right. For those who doubt if it’s true, the only way to find out is to step out in faith. If you refuse to believe, then you will never be able to “know” this.)
Anyway, I personally believe that all the political struggles in this world are spiritually based. But, regardless of whether you feel that way, we can still apply what the Bible says about knowledge. If you have a great enough grasp of any situation, then you will be able to see clearly to steer a path through it. If you don’t, you will be tossed around like a dingy in a storm until you are pulled apart and destroyed.
Most political stories are pebbles that fall off a mountain of political or economic philosophy. These mountains determine the larger trends and ultimate agendas of political players. To know these mountains will enable one to properly examine each and every pebble that falls off them and to determine how it fits and how to deal with it.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is more concerned about pebbles than it is about mountains. Media groups like to examine every pebble that they find and create a story about the mountain that it must fit. But, they never bother to examine the mountain itself. Instead, they have an idea of a mountain that they think should be true, and they find a way to twist the interpretation of the pebble to fit their preconceived idea of the mountain. Too bad that their mountain isn’t remotely close to any reality.
Once the pebble has come under examination by a “news” outlet, then it gets turned over to the talking heads for “expert analysis.” Many of these people have written books, and some of them have even read books. Upon this resume they are considered authoritative on the subject. Unfortunately, most of the book writers wrote about the ideal mountain that doesn’t exist, and the rest have read those same books. None of them, then, are really qualified to examine the pebble, because they never really looked at the mountain from which it came.
Here is the danger for the masses, then. We are trying to base our reactions to political stories on the analysis of the blind guides. It’s like the story of the four wise men who were asked to describe an elephant by examining the trunk, the ear, the tail or the tusk. All four were on to something, but none of them had anything close to the whole picture.
I know this sounds a little daunting, but there is really no way around it. If you want to know the truth, it is up to YOU to study until you know it. You can never know the whole truth, but at least you can dig into the mountains far enough to recognize the lie. No, it is not up to the next generation to find their own truth. Youth are handicapped twice. Not only do they have no experience by which to know the truth, but they are so young and naive that they don’t even know how much they don’t know. We can’t expect them to figure it out. It’s up to the grown-ups. That doesn’t mean that the youth are free of the responsibility to find the truth. If they start now, but the time they are mature, they will have a mature understanding.
I was a child of the 60’s. I watched carefully while the world I knew was dismantled. All the “youth” of my time were sure that their parents knew nothing. (Ironically, in 2008, my young college neighbor announced, just like the love children of the 60’s, that the old people had their chance, and “now it’s our time.” Then he voted for the hip young Barack Obama, who is the same age as this old man.) But all of the youth of my time never bothered to mature in their knowledge, or they were too stubborn to admit that they were wrong, or they decided to exploit it for their own greed rather than share it with the masses. And now, those youth are today’s leaders in government, universities and business.
The reason why I often advise people to turn off the TV news is because the mountain can never be understood by the poorly understood pebbles examined by the major media. The reason why I tell people to read books is that the books are looking at the mountains. Many books try to examine the pebbles and build the mountain. Don’t read those books. Look for the ones that deal in detail with the mountains. Even if the conclusions of the book are incorrect, at least there will be enough facts about the mountain to help you draw your own conclusion. Or, at least you will begin to know what questions really need to be asked, and then you can look for other books that answer the questions.
History, as they say, is told my the winners. So you always have to be careful to read books from the perspective of both sides. The swill that passes for history in your classroom texts is decidedly revisionist and unreliable. But, again, at least you get an overview of history from them. Then it’s up to you to go from their and learn the truth behind the story. Don’t fall into the trap of asking your professor for the answers. He was trained by the clueless idiots from my generation, or he himself is a clueless idiot of my generation. He would have told you back in the 60’s when he was a young man, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Now, as that applies to him and most of academia, it’s a true statement.
Friends, I don’t want you to believe that there is no one you can trust. But, because there are so many liars out there, you have to find ways to test them. Remember that, logically, anyone who contradicts himself at even the smallest point is not trustworthy. If the contradiction cannot be explained, one or both statements is false. So you have to be careful. In the Bible, it says “Test the spirits to see if they are of God.” In other words, people will show their true colors every time if you press them hard enough.
I’m not suggesting that all this study will make you richer, happier, or better looking. But, at least when you know the truth, you don’t have to waste your time scratching your head over all the inane junk in the media. You can be sure about what you know. You can plot a course and stick with it. You can know where to focus your energies. Go climb some mountains, my friends!