A Bit More Truth

One of the things that has bothered me for a while is a profound disinterest or disrespect for truth.  I see it almost everywhere: in media, in news, in churches, in laws, and in philosophy.  The reality is, the truth is, that if we do not deal in truth, we will not have good philosophy, we will not have good laws, we will not have good politicians, and we will not make good decisions in our lives.

As you may have guessed, I believe that truth is essential for discerning goodness.  This also reveals a bias I have: Good and Evil exist.  Of course, this bias is based on years of experience.  I have spent years dealing with all manner of things, such as suffering, abuse, etc.  I’ve suffered many of the same pains as others.  There is one inescapable conclusion that I have come away with in life.  People have a tendency to hurt each other.  People have a tendency to pursue self-interest over what will help those around them.  People have a tendency to pursue short-term goals despite the obvious long-term consequences.  In other words, people have a tendency to sin.

This flies in the face of what we hear on a daily basis: that people are basically good.  You can see this when you observe people talking about world events.  People want to “negotiate” with people like Kim Jong-Il or Ahmedienejad.  The assumption behind these negotiation attempts is that they are basically good people who are simply “misguided” and that if we reason with them, they will realize the error of their ways and stop getting the note from the UN, “doesn’t play well with others.”

It fails to recognize that Kim Jong-Il has total power over a nation.  He is, more than likely, of the mindset that he should be allowed to do whatever he wants with “his” country.  His reaction would be similar to yours if one of your neighbors told you you can’t put in a bed of flowers in front of your house.  You would be incensed if someone told you not to plant a rose bush in front of your house, or that your azaleas had to go.  This is the same attitude that Kim Jong-Il has towards nuclear and missile programs in North Korea.  Negotiation cannot work because he views it as being none of our business.

Ahmedenijad is working from a different perspective.  He is a devout Muslim.  I do not know enough about Islam to be able to say whether his beliefs are mainstream or not, but he has stated that he believes Israel has no right to exist as a nation.  This isn’t, as far as I can tell, a political belief, but rather a religious belief.  My understanding is that he believes that ALL people should follow Islam, just as I believe that ALL people should be Christians.  The difference, however, is that some Muslims (I believe this includes Ahmedenijad) believe that it is acceptable to use force as a means of convincing others to convert.  Despite what has happened in the past, I know of no Christians currently living that would advocate using force as a means of convincing others to convert.  Because Christianity is defined in terms of a loving relationship between a person and Christ, it doesn’t even make sense to “force” someone to become a Christian.  The result is that Ahmedenijad appears to view it as a religious duty to reclaim territory once held by Muslims, and that non-Muslims occupying it have the choice of converting, leaving, or dying.  I have no choice but to view such an attitude as a sinful one.  He seeks to steal the property of others, and is willing to commit murder to do so.  He may be willing to commit murder because they disagree with him about the nature of God.

With these two examples in mind, it becomes clear that some of our international conflicts are based, not on misunderstandings, but on irreconcilable differences.  Coming closer to home, the US political scene is seeing the same conflicts.  Obama has called out Limbaugh.  The funny thing is, Limbaugh is being called out for making some observations about Obama’s policies.  This is called “freedom of speech” and is protected by the US Constitution.  So, what are the observations Limbaugh is making?  Simply that Obama’s policies have been tried many times before, and have never worked.  Moreover, when the opposite policies have been tried, they have always worked.  To me, this is a simple matter of objective truth coming against wishful thinking.  I wish I had a million dollars in the bank.  If I start shopping as if it were true, I’ll quickly get in trouble.  Obama wishes government intervention and regulation and spending was the key to fixing the US economy, and he is leading the US economy into a downward spiral.  Don’t poop in one hand and claim it’s the hand you wished in.

There is a key truth we have to embrace, and fast.  People are not, fundamentally, good.  That includes me, you, your neighbor, my pastor, everyone.  I sin daily, despite every desire in me not to.  I would say I sin hourly, but I think I’m OK while I’m asleep.  I seek to follow God’s will, and to obey His direction.  God is good, I am fundamentally flawed.  If I am fundamentally flawed, I have to realize that others I deal with are as well.  That means the more important the interaction, the more caution I have to exercise in it.  That is one of the truths of life.

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