Sunday, July 18, 2010

The War of Ideas

To be on either side of the Question is to fight only what you can see—namely, your opponents; but to seek truth is to fight nature itself through the lonely exploration of the middle-ground despite crossfire. There are many questions (with a lower case "q") that have definitive answers despite many people's ignorance of those answers. However, there are some where we have not yet found definite answers, those whose answers are critical to solving the world's problems.

In considering these Questions, there is a huge difference between being moderate and being mediocre. To be a spectator at the game of life is to merely watch the competition of ideas in the political and social arena. Mediocrity is waiting for the hard questions to be answered by someone else—then reading the scores with an idle interest.

The great people of history who have been in this lonely middle-ground certainly studied the scoreboard of the competitors who volleyed over their heads. Their interest in finding answers and the intensity of their search, however, led them to examine this war of ideas up close—and not without risk.

Well-read people see faults and virtues in every opinion. Big thinking people focus on the virtues with an eye on unity, rather than schism. But, alas, it is easier to fall to one side where the company is welcoming and the enemies are readily identified. A place of labels and uniforms, where conforming one's speech to a fixed ideology is the clear path to high status.

The question is why do you defend the points you do? Is it because you believe your opinion is the true answer to the question? Or is it because you gain something else from aligning yourself with others of the same mind? Depending on the situation, there may be nothing wrong with either reason—and you may, in fact, be defending the truth.

Just remember, in the war of ideas, it isn't the truth because you think it is or wish it was. It's only the truth if it actually is!
FEATURED MEDIA: A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide - I'll admit, I haven't read this book yet, but it promises to be thought provoking. Articles I've read by Mr. Siljander sound clearly reasoned and point out the contemporary political stance of "shoot first, ask questions never." Our government is a long way from making peace in the Middle East, and mostly due to ignoring diplomatic approaches to unity.

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