For a long time now I have wondered why it is that some people, myself among them, are more willing to seek out the truth when so many others are content to live their lives oblivious as to what is going on right in front of their eyes. Why do some people refuse to question what is obviously a lie, when others have the courage to stand alone and question it?
Is it just human nature that some people need to feel a part of a group and that by questioning the consensus of the majority they risk losing that feeling of belonging? Is it that fear of rocking the boat, of having to stand alone on your own beliefs with no one there to support you that frightens some?
A few days ago I had nothing to do so I picked up my copy of Atlas Shrugged and began reading it again. On page 49 of my copy I ran across something which rekindled this whole thought process. It was when Orrin Boyle, Wesley Mouch, and James Taggart were meeting in a bar discussing Reardon Metal, and James Taggart said the following, “When everybody agrees,” Taggart’s voice suddenly went shrill, “when the people are unanimous, how does one man dare to dissent? By what right?”
That’s the way I see people react when I badmouth our government, their political party, or a particular candidate for office, “How dare I bring out the faults of these people, their lies, or their failure to uphold their sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution…how dare I!!!”
But whether a person chooses to accept the truth, or to ignore it, the truth remains the truth. You can say that I am badmouthing your candidate, or a president, but I am only speaking the truth. If that offends you, then it is the truth that offends you, not I. And if the truth offends you, then it must mean that you prefer to believe a lie. These are simple premises that cannot be denied; you either choose to accept the truth, or your choose to believe a lie.
It reminds me of the scene from the first Matrix movie where Morpheus offers Neo the red and the blue pills. Morpheus tells Neo, “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
You see, that’s the problem with the truth, once you learn it you can’t un-learn it. You can choose to go through life completely unaware of the truth that is readily available, but you if things go wrong, if those in power completely strip you of all your rights you are not justified in saying, “But I didn’t know this was going to happen.”
Ignorance comes with a cost, and that cost is that whatever happens could have been prevented had you taken the time to become informed and make an effort to stave off impending disaster. The flip side is that once you make that conscious choice to educate yourself, you have an obligation to try to inform others, even if it means you are shunned by those who you once considered friends.
Wherever I go, and whenever I hear discussions about politics, I am amazed at the things I hear coming out of people’s mouths. The things they say in support of a particular candidate, or the purpose for their government, when compared to what the document which establishes that government, clearly show that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Author Harlan Ellison once said, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” Yet in his novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury also said, “But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them.”
Unfortunately, most people would rather choose to believe a lie than to seek out the truth. Sometimes you hear things from people, that due to their status in society, or their own personal beliefs, you choose to reject. Take for instance Aleister Crowley the occultist who due to his beliefs was scorned by many. Yet he once said something that I find to be very true, “The sin which is unpardonable is knowingly and willfully to reject the truth, to fear knowledge lest that knowledge pander not to thy prejudices.”
I find it sad that when I was speaking out against the things President George W. Bush was doing that the Democrats I know all supported my position. Yet when I speak out against the things Barack Obama is doing they turn on me and call me all kinds of names. The same was true amongst my Republican friends when I spoke out against Clinton, yet they turned on me when I spoke out against Bush.
All I do is compare the actions of a sitting president, or member of Congress to what our Constitution says, or what our Founders envisioned for this nation. If the actions of current members of our government conflict with what the Constitution says, then I speak out against it. I take no sides, I only speak out for truth. Yet why am I, and others like me, so few and far between? Why are we labeled as threats to our nation’s security, domestic terrorists, when all we do is support the principles upon which this once great nation was founded?
I hate to sound incendiary, as I am so often reminded, but Albert Einstein once said, “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” But when people refuse to think, when they refuse to examine the facts and make an informed decision based upon them, I can barely hold back from telling them how stupid they all appear to me.
I can understand wanting to be part of a group, or the need to be accepted. What I cannot understand is the willingness to believe a lie when the cost of doing so is so great, and of such importance. That, I cannot abide. Yet it may all come back to human nature, that need to not rock the boat or cause a commotion.
As Mark Twain once said, “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” But until that happens, until the cause succeeds, something Voltaire said also is equally true, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
Maybe we will all just have to wait, for what Bradbury said, wait for the world, or this country at least, to blow up around them before they realize that they should have taken the time to inform themselves and to defend the truth.