Sunday, September 08, 2019

Our Lack of Causes for Mass Shootings - The deadly effects of treating effects as causes pt.2 of 2

There are more causes than we can count for why so many people today have so little interest in living lives worth living or showing respect for human life - theirs or others. While we can't say what causes any one person to choose to murder as many of their fellows as they can manage, we can identify some causes for why living respectful and worthwhile lives was not central to the lives they chose to live out in our midst, and IMHO identifying why so many lack that is more meaningful to know than the endless and meaningless details of these shooters lives that are obsessed over in our tragically repeating news cycle.

I pointed out in the previous post that causation in human affairs was once understood to have a deeper more pyramidal structure than the cartoonishly flattened out 'cause & effect' (see gun->shoot people, hate brown skin-> shoot all skins, be bullied by someone-> shoot everyone, etc.,) accepted today, and pointed out how at least one central issue that is lacking in each of these shooters, is also lacking in those who shriek the loudest afterwards about disarming their fellows ability to defend themselves against such attacks - shooters and shriekers alike lack a regard for that fundamental ideal that America was formed from and upon: a respect for individual rights. This absence is 'present' in all levels of our society today, and should be even more disturbing to us than these mass shootings which are its most extreme effects, and the fact that most who lack that ideal have not yet chosen violence (though a great many do enjoy talking about it), should be cold comfort indeed - we as a society are imperiled not by the things surrounding our lives, but by what is lacking within our lives.

This lack of regard for an ideal that is so fundamental to America is not only concerning, but puzzling, as all societies have a means for understanding, elevating, spreading, and acting on their highest ideals in daily life - why does ours now (for clearly we once had it) lack that? Previously we looked at the effects which the lack of that ideal can have on a individual thoughts and actions, this post will look at what is lacking in our means of transmitting that ideal into the American people. Again, by not getting distracted by the many meaningless effects, and concentrating instead upon what is meaningfully lacking, we can better see the layers of the pyramid of causes from top to bottom - material, formal, efficient and final - in our means of conveying our most fundamental ideals.

A Material Cause
The ideal of individual rights is vital to the mind of any who is deliberately an American, but despite their good intentions it is unlikely to be sustained alone in a person for long, without the support of that person's habits, actions and aspirations, which is what makes a person's character the Material Cause (“that out of which” something is done) of their behavior.

Of course one essential character trait that's present in those who are not inclined to slaughter their fellows, is that they value and admire living a good life, and doing so requires them to have developed a habit of making choices that are respectful of what is real and true and good, which in turn requires a person to have developed a habit and method of thinking - IOW a reasonable method of asking questions that lead to a deeper understanding of what is true, while identifying and rejecting what is false - and a sufficient wealth of supporting knowledge, understanding and inspiration to draw upon, for successfully carrying their choices towards, safely through, and past, the turbulent passions of the moment.

Having and sustaining a good character is not such an easy thing to do, and an important point to acknowledge about virtuous habits, is that they're an extremely unnatural thing for a human being to seek, develop, and sustain. Even with the benefit of a good character, it is not easy to choose to do what is best and right, over what is easy and tempting, but it's damn near impossible to do so when caught up in the midst of your passions, with no habits or anchoring truths whatsoever, to help you
hold to a steady course.

So there we've pointed out at least three traits glaringly and naturally lacked by shooters and shriekers alike: an understanding of and regard for individual rights (which makes being respectful of other's lives possible, see previous post),- a regard for human life (their own and others), and a lack of those virtuous habits of character which make a good life a real possibility for one and for all. It is the last of these lacks, that we'll follow into the next lower level in the causal pyramid.

A Formal Cause
What society contributes most to shaping its people's character, is their means of educating themselves, which is what makes that the Formal Cause ('The Form or Shape of' what is brought about) of a people's character. A society which hopes to enjoy the liberty of living amongst fellows they needn't fear will inexplicably turn and slaughter them, is one that cannot rely upon their fellows doing what comes naturally to them - as impulsively exerting power to satisfy desire or eliminate frustrations, is what comes most naturally to man (See History... or Chicago weekend crime stats). If the members of a society hope to pursue happiness, they must develop a means for their people to acquire those habits, knowledge, inspirations and aspirations necessary for maintaining them - only then can they hope to become that most unnatural of peoples, those who value and practice the traits of character which makes living peacefully in liberty with their fellows - most of whom are and will remain strangers to them - possible, which, from the perspective of society, is the role of Education.

The nature of the educational system they develop is as important as what it teaches, and not only has the structure of our system been upended, but the process of developing a system of habits, knowledge, virtues necessary to become their student's character traits, have been foremost amongst what educational reformer's have been most intent upon eliminating from the educational process, ensuring that generations of students would be less likely to develop a good character, and that lack plays no small part in what plagues us today, be it mass shootings, mass opposition to freedom of speech, or other collectivist tendencies, Left & Right.

Once upon a time the system of education in America was one that was explicitly developed for the purpose of transmitting those essential ideals, questions and answers that were central to the substance of our culture; and it undertook as its chief purpose and reason for being, the task of developing that most unnatural set of habits, knowledge, and ideals which made and marked Americans as being an exceptional people. That original system was not a system that was fixed and determined from the political top, on down, but instead developed from the bottom up through the loosely affiliated aspirations and common knowledge of those parents, teachers and students involved, and while the particular lessons varied from place to place - sometimes greatly - their goal was a common one that was shared by all, and that 'system' excelled at transmitting the substance of American culture forwards through the first two centuries of America's colonial and constitutional existence.

Some fruits by which we can know that system today are our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and a people who had the moral clarity, will and determination to throw off the shackles of monarchy and slavery that had bound men down throughout all of human history, ending them even at the horrific cost of war. Central to those people was the idea that Individual Rights are indispensable to living in Liberty under a Rule of Law, and that if such an ideal was absolutely right and true, then it had to be true for all and respected as such, and that ideal reverberated through every layer of American society.

NOTE: This does not mean that all Americans, then or ever, were entirely successful in living up to that ideal, but only that they knew that they should, and if you don't understand how huge that is... well... look around at what is lacking amongst us in our world today.
“A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.” ― Isabel Paterson, God of the Machine
Isabel Paterson

That remarkable system of education had already begun to erode by the 1830's, and was mostly gone by the 1930's, and what we now have resembles it in no more than name only, and is more alike its exact opposite in every relevant way - its now being used as a scheme for centralizing power at the top to impose itself uniformly upon all people beneath it; it has traded truth for utility; traded the development of virtuous habits, for doing what is useful or feels 'good'; abandoned the ability to ask reasonable questions, for arbitrarily doubting and criticizing what displeases you; and abandoning individual rights, for a utilitarian sophistry of imposing power upon all for the 'greater good!'.
Among the prized fruits by which we may know our modern educational system, is the woke ideal of a body of students today who respond to any question or claim about what is right and true:
"...Right?! Who's 'right'?! How dare you tell me what's 'right'!..."
How likely is it that students who've learned to react in that way to a claim of what is right and true - not by honest questioning, but by forceful assertion and hostile disparagement - how likely is it that they are going to develop a respect for the lives of others, when they've been encouraged to develop the habit of thinking wherein no one can know what is real, cannot know what is true, and cannot know what is right? Those who've been educated in that manner, have at the same time, consciously or not, also been developing the habit of regarding decency, civility, morality, virtue, knowledge, individual rights and a respect for laws that uphold and protect them, as foolish and contemptible notions. The seeds of such fruit have sown the seeds of causes that ripple like nausea throughout our society today, as those students have and will continue to become, our co-workers, parents, leaders - IOW: Us.

For a culture to elevate its virtues, it must first recognize that there are Virtues, and that they should be elevated and respected by all. The sad truth about modernity, is that we no longer believe that is important, deluding ourselves that what is important is a matter of personal preference, and we have accepted the disastrous notion that chasing after meaningless effects, can be a substitute for understanding and valuing meaningful causes.

That point from C.S. Lewis's 'The Abolition of Man, ', was nicely made in this post from Intellectual Takeout,
"...In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes upon the differences between previous eras in human history and our modern world, which has arguably been building since the 1700s:
"For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique…”
In the past we saw our world as ruled by natural laws higher than ourselves. Today, we have attempted to have no laws or authority over ourselves. Modern man believes he makes his own rules and can use scientific knowledge to overcome any obstacles in his path. By doing so, mankind collectively attempts to become a sort of god of the universe, understanding all, able to manipulate the world at will.

The question for the individual, no matter the opinions of the dominant intellectuals of our age, is which way is the path of the good life? Do you join in the conquest of reality, attempting to make the world conform to your will? Or do you make peace with the world around you, accepting that man’s power has limits, and discover how to conform to the natural laws?…"
It is a mistake to complain, as many often do, that our current state of affairs is all due us because: 'We took God out of the schools!', sorry, but no, that isn't it, that too is an effect, not a cause. It's not because we took God out of our classrooms, but because we put the State (AKA: Power) into them! The last State in the United States of America, put political powers in charge of mandatory school attendance by 1918 - what 'rights' do you expect to retain, when parents have no right to the education of their children?. Do you really think God, or anything else of value, would long share a space where power had been put on an equal footing with, or above, them? If the old saw of Gresham's law, that 'Bad money drives out good', is true, how much moreso must it apply to the intellectual and spiritual investment of Education? When power is permitted to share, guide, goad and mandate people's thinking towards what the politically powerful determine to be 'correct' (for the moment), it will, must, lead those students away from the truth, and following a few generations of such causes as that, we reached the point where God and any other absolute value, were seen as meaningless effects, able to be removed through the formality of a courtroom 'fight', and seen as 'justice' done. As long as you see taking a primary value (whether God, Truth, or some other) out of the classroom as being what caused the effects we see, rather than 'We The People's desire to put Power in a position to overrule them (as useful for 'the greater good'), then we will continue to experience these effects for quite some time to come.

That utilitarian shift towards the ideal of 'get good grades and get a good job', led the slide away from the purpose of education that it replaced, can be summed up as: To lead students out of bondage to their passions and false assumptions, by teaching students to become virtuous, informed, self-governing individuals capable of living lives worth living in society with others of differing opinions and abilities.

Rather than teaching students to be willing and able to choose to be respectful of the lives and actions of others, they have been habituated to focus on meaningless facts and dates and skills for the purposes of passing tests upon those meaningless facts and dates and skills, for future employment. Few students today are unaware that their lessons have no value to or for them, and a creeping nihilism and rootless mental outlook most naturally follows. To trade preparation for a life worth living, for 'getting a good job' (which in a deeper sense ensures neither)... is, well, several circles of hell beneath 'sad'.

You've probably heard the comment from President Reagan, that 'freedom is only one generation away from being lost'? That line is very similar to one which has a bit more scope, from my favorite historians, Will & Ariel Durant, made in a short book of theirs called The Lessons of History, summarizing what they learned in writing their 11 volume "Story of Civilization" series:
"...Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again..."
Can anyone, in regards to our schools today, have confidence that our means of cultural transmission, is still operating smoothly? The Durants' continued,
"...Consider education not as the painful accumulation of facts and dates and reigns, nor merely the necessary preparation of the individual to earn his keep in the world, but as the transmission of our mental, moral, technical, and aesthetic heritage as fully as possible to as many as possible, for the enlargement of man's understanding, control, embellishment, and enjoyment of life... If progress is real despite our whining, it is not because we are born any healthier, better, or wiser than in the past, but because we are born to a richer heritage, born on a higher level of that pedestal which the accumulation of knowledge and art raises as the ground and support of our being...."
Will Durant, Ariel Durant (1968). “Chp XIII The lessons of history, pg: 101-102”
We have been stripping the gears from our means of cultural transmission for at least the last century, to the point that we not only have no ideals for young men & women to aim towards today, but now our system of education has the very opposite goals of what the Durants' advised back then, as through SAT's and ACT's and various other continuous means of testing, education has been transformed into the painful accumulation of politically correct facts and dates and reigns, merely for the necessary preparation of the individual to earn his keep in the world, while the transmission of Western Civilization's mental, moral, technical, and aesthetic heritage for the enlargement of man's understanding and enjoyment of life, is either neglected or flat out denigrated in the process of being passed on. Students 'educated' in such a way, are not being led out of the cave and into the light, but are being bound into the technological cave, to gape at the shadow play projected onto its Internet walls for their entertainment, and are being taught that the lack of an exit is a feature, not a bug.

Speaking of causes, what do you think? How will you act on that? Moving on....

An Efficient Cause
But to give our better educators their due (and there are more of them than you might think), no educational system can pass on what is no longer available or fit for it to convey, and it's here that we begin to see what is lacking in the next deeper level of the causal pyramid, the Efficient Cause ('the primary source of change, the art or advice'), of our culture. Chiefly lacking in our culture today, is a regard for our Culture, an ignorance and unwillingness to identify what made our culture exceptional and worth striving towards in our lives. You can have a Culture that elevates the ideals of Individual Rights, Morality and Virtue, or one that revels in Cynicism, stimulation and immorality (at least for awhile), but not both.

The desire to make lives worth living, and the ability to understand and choose to think and believe in that way... requires more consideration and self-reflection than the reflective equivalent of taking a selfie that is the peddling of "[Gilroy/El Paso/Dayton] Strong!" wrist bands or the like in response to each shooting. And you know what? That change is not going to happen in a comment thread or a twenty second sound byte, and there's no set of neglected books to read, that, simply by being read, will change a single thing - and you know what? It shouldn't. It is unfair and unrealistic to expect such a thing. A society's culture is not dependent upon a single work, or selection of them, but upon the totality of its expressions, like those pictures of a scene which as you drill into them you find that each pixel is an individual person's face, you have to pull back to see the picture of the whole culture being made up of innumerable pixels of literature, art, historic events, legends and myths, sculpture and music, and what matters most to each person, is not which pixel they have, but at what level of resolution they are able to see the entire image of it.

There's a quotation I've seen attributed to everyone from Goethe, to Churchill, which fits this scenario well, that,
"The hero draws inspiration from the virtue of his ancestors."
, and not only is that true, no matter who didn't say it, it goes without saying that if you've forgotten the deeds of your heroic ancestors, you go on without them, as less than them. We need to have, and want to have, that imagery, those ideals, the art and stories, that convey what no number of textbooks, tests, or handouts can ever hope to. That has to come from you, and it is only when the members of a society have the same ideals within them, that they have, and belong to, a culture. Without that... you are adrift in a sea of moments, with no connection to the next moment, or the last.

While our entry into Western Civilization may begin in America, with epics such as Washington and his army wintering in Valley Forge, or crossing the Delaware, or the signing of the Declaration of Independence, those are signposts of our culture, not its headwaters. Our culture truly means less, if it does not also include Jamestown, the Pilgrims, and Prince Phillips War (google it now), but also where those people came from, in the the Glorious Revolution, and the Elizabethan defeat of the Spanish Armada, Shakespeare, Locke's Two Treatise's, Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492, and King John's submitting to the Baron's Magna Carta. There are hallmarks of mythic 'history' in Robin Hood, and King Arthur, as well as The Crusades (which are nothing to be ashamed of), Charlemagne, Constantine, Jesus and his Apostles, Rome, Greece, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles & Aeschylus, The Iliad... the advances of the Renaissance, the music of Mozart, the art of Michelangelo, Titian, and the phenomenal realism of the last masters of Art... these are world shaping and heroic events and achievements, it is who the West is, and its milestones can go on and on, but instead when the culture of Western Civilization is raised, they are either left out, or derided along some variation of racist 'criticism', or worse, they are given equal or second billing to what is either trite, or downright ugly in content and appearance.

The gems of Western Civilization are not nothing, on the contrary, they are the means of transmitting everything! Without them, the West is no more, and lacking that means lacking the greatest advances of Western Culture, including the American ideal of 'E Pluribus Unum', that anyone of any race or origin, if they but partake of the West's ideals, they may become one with that same line of people that stretches back to Homer and the Bible.

It's often said that 'politics is downstream of culture', but when there is no stream flowing from that culture, when its fonts have been stopped up, it won't make a lick of difference how many songs, paintings and movies you crank out, or how many politicians are elected to mandate garishly painting "CULTUR!" upon them, that stream will remain dry. That is where we are, and that is a state that is deeply unnatural to human beings, and the lack of such an identity is felt as emptiness, and is often expressed in inexplicable fury - which is most useful to those who seek to transform a culture into one of their own designs.

But before shouldering all of the blame upon parents and teachers, we need to recognize that their role can only be to direct children's attention to the ideals which their culture holds up for them to admire, but ... what are they to do in its absence? A culture is by nature, admirable. How can a teacher be expected to speak admiringly of it, to treat it respectfully, while all around them in popular culture ridicules it? It is the role of the culture, and all its members, to elevate what the best in their history have provided for developing the ability to distinguish between void and value - how are people who're fully occupied with the task of living, expected to compensate for such a civilizational failure, as to lack that direction?

Our culture, that which once elevated a thoughtful, civil, well mannered and happy people upon the world stage, is now nearly lost to us. And of course, nature, abhorring a vacuum and so forth, rushes in with the very natural results of a thoughtless, violent, rude and angry people, being shuffled in to their places to the strains of laughter and music, no longer having the means of dealing thoughtfully with those causes and their effects which a culture provides.

When you see someone coming unglued at the sight of a red hat, or on hearing 'Wrong Speak!', you are seeing the natural passions of unmediated appetite in a person who lacks the benefit of those habits that in earlier times would've been made natural to them through familiarity with the ideals of Western Culture, inclining them to form reasonable responses around them, and without which they behave barbarically. Don't act shocked - that is, after all, barbarism is the natural and necessary state of uncivilized man.

The problems we are facing today are those of a people who've had their regard for what is good, beautiful and true, dissolved, via the corrosive effects of cheap cynicism which revels in declaring that 'there is no truth, and don't I know it!'. That is, again, the natural way of things. The question is, are you willing to let nature take it's course, or are you, like our Founders, willing to do what is unnatural, right and true? Are you willing to be a cause of different effects in our world? Such a cause as that only begins with the choice, it must be followed with learning and habituating yourself to it... by wanting to understand the why of it all.

A Final Cause
If you were to ask someone to name something that they thought would be accepted as 'true' by the most people, they'd probably answer: 'Science!' Unfortunately, science, while suited to telling us about how things work, is incapable of telling you about anything meaningful, or even about what the nature of Truth is. As the aphorist Nicolas Davila is said to have quipped:
"Without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know."
, and perhaps more to the point,
Whoever has understood a notion from the natural sciences has understood all that can be understood; whoever has understood a notion from the humanities has understood only what he can understand. (#2,187)
, and when its enthusiasts lose sight of the nature of science and pretend that it can tell you something meaningful, they slip away from real Science, and slide into "Scientism", which is an ideological view having an "excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.", and error and disaster follows from it, as accepting effects as causes, typically does.

Not knowing what we most need to know - such as what is, is, and being unable to identify what truth is - is what we're seeing the effects of all around us today, and as the Durant's cautioned us against fifty years ago, it's what happens when the traditional Western way of thinking is encouraged to slip away from from the thoughts, minds and hearts of a people raised with only the shallowest appearances of The West to guide them, enjoying its pleasures while shunning its foundations and responsibilities, it being eaten away with a caustic concoction of modernist skepticism, cynicism and doubt. With little of the old ways born of a pursuit of wonder and truth remaining in our habits of reasoning, rhetoric & ethics to counter them, our manners, civility, and regard for what is true have been rapidly fading away from Americans' once 'natural' behavior. It's in this where the details of the Efficient Cause of Culture having degenerated from moral truths, to civil niceties, where doing what 'should be done', happens only while being watched by others (then sloughed off and mocked), that we begin to see that final layer of our great lack originating from the Final cause (“the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”), the thinking that reality is unknowable, and so Truth is thought to be meaningless.

Tragedies such as those of mass shootings, or movements to eliminate freedom of speech, which plague our society today, are the effects of the meaninglessness of modern philosophy and its inability to support itself, which is causing our society to collapse in upon itself. In lacking respect for reality, we lack an affinity for the good, the beautiful and the true.

Many today realize that at least some of this is true, and that something is lacking in our world... but does their thinking support, or work against, that? A person should be willing and in the habit of pursuing and verifying whether what they think is true, is true or not. After all, anyone can say anything they want - I certainly did so, for decades - but does what you think is so, have roots that penetrate beyond any given moment? Does your understanding of how things are, extend your understanding's roots deeper into reality? Current events provide a simple test for how much regard a person habitually does or doesn't have for what is really true, by asking a simple question:
If someone asks: "What you think should be done about 'our problem with guns?"
, how do they respond? Are they willingly distracted by effects, or do they seek out causes? Do they (you?) try to be 'pragmatic' and make common sense suggestions of 'gun registration' or 'Red Flag Laws'? If so, then I'm sorry to say that no, their habit of thought does not show a deep regard and care for what is right and true (not where it counts most, in daily life), which I say not because of their political popularity or lack of it, but because they attempt to treat a problem by focusing on effects that result from deeper causes, as if those effects were causes. That's not thinking, it's parroting and evading, and shows a denial of human nature. What such a response does demonstrate, is what most people raised in and after the 20th Century are habituated to, caring more about 'making something work', for the moment, rather than a concern for what is timelessly true. AKA: Pragmatism.

If you weren't aware, Pragmatism is a philosophy that was devised by some of those same fine folks who gave us our modern school systems, modern psychiatry, and modern philosophy (John Dewey, William James and Charles Peirce), because, being the very modern American thinkers of the late 19th Century that they were, they concluded that since reality isn't knowable (Hume, Kant & Hegel 'proved' that by asserting that we must take their torrent of words for it being so... because... they said so), then obviously neither is Truth, and so too the Pragmatists concluded that the closely related matter of Principles were clearly wastes of time as well, so the only 'pragmatic' thing to do then, is to do what works, at the moment, for the moment, and when the moment changes, try something new until that works, for the moment. That's Pragmatism, in a nut-shall.

What's that? You didn't know that about Pragmatism? Ok, and... so... while you didn't know that this particular philosophical system is designed, as is the case with all philosophical systems (I've provided a Rogues Gallery of them in this post), to guide your thinking on ALL matters, meant and implied, and yet you've had no objections to referring to yourself as being a pragmatic person? Yep... that certainly is pragmatic all right, and you are far from being alone in this, even Ronald Reagan said, 'Americans are a very pragmatic people'. And it's true, under its guidance over the course of the last century, we have become a 'pragmatic people' - but ask yourself this: do you think that the course we've traveled as a people over the last century, has gone well for us, or ill? You might want to apply that judgment to the worthiness and quality of 'pragmatism' itself.

Don't resort to the easy self-flattering, 'doubt & run' pattern of artificially voicing doubts and questioning nothing as your assumptions become your reality, pragmatically treating random effects as if they were substantial causes - that is a recipe brewed from the Cartesian Method of Doubt and its legion of offspring (like Pragmatism), which is responsible for much of what we lack. Don't just doubt objections to it, pursue that doubt with questions that will verify the value - or lack of value - in your doubt, and then follow where those questions lead, in pursuit of what is true.

Why don't most people (you?) pursue such questions? Probably from a lack of interest in the answers, or from the assumption that such answers lack usefulness and 'value'. Compulsive education and shallow entertainment are the result of having failed to encourage or help us to develop a regard for, or understanding of, what is right and true, and so few have any particular feelings for what is right and true - given that, who is going to promote what's good, beautiful and true? This is another important point: Violent video games & entertainment are not to blame - those too are effects, not causes. What is deserving of blame, is our failure to add anything more to our children's lives, than what violent video games and entertainment are able to provide in their absence. When you add into their lives a regard for individual rights and the like, then those games and entertainment remain but games and amusements for them, but lacking that, those violent games and entertainments will provide their own guides into their lives. If you are one of those who are inclined to blame games and entertainments for the problems of 'kids today', I hope that you can answer for what you've added to their lives that would lead them to seek something more than what those games & amusements provide. Because if you haven't, why would they?

In cautioning against doubt, I'm not saying that you shouldn't question what is true - how else are you to know something is true, if you don't question it?! - I'm saying don't mistake baseless doubts that corrode your understanding, for questions which integrate and build up what you understand to be true. Don't let yourself take the easy dive down the rabbit hole of "Oh I doubt that!", stop such evasive lines of thought dead in their tracks. Did you feel a real doubt rise in your mind, or did you lazily plop it out there to distract from examining something else? Whichever case, then question why, based on what you can and do know - do that, and I guarantee you that you'll find more questions to ask that will root you deeper into what is real and true, and will aid you in trying to resolve the reasons for the doubt that you felt, or spun.

A respect for what is true requires a very unnatural habit of consciously guiding your life around what you know and understand to be true, which is itself very unnatural (see History), and it is an equally unnatural trait in choosing to show a regard for decency without being or seeing it as being weak, an appreciation of beauty without devolving into lust, civility without apathy, valuing morality, virtue, knowledge, individual rights, and a willful respect for laws that are appropriate to protecting them, over using power to gain privilege and satisfaction. If those habits are not established within a person and a people, then neither will they find within them any particular regard for what is true, or false... only for what is useful & stimulating. The uncomfortable truth is that the truth is naturally less impressive to people, than the shock value of thrillingly arbitrary what-ifs which they can construct with the impunity of a simple artificially conjured doubt (and get lots of 'likes' and 'follows' from it).

Proof of life
Want to prove me wrong? Well the good news is, that if I am wrong, you can prove it. Because there is such a thing as Truth, and because it is more than striking a bargain for the moment, you are able to prove something to be... true... and oh the doors that opens up for you (and others it successfully slams shut). But you do have to walk through those doors and you do have to put some effort into doing so. It's not easy to do, but it is simple. Tell me what you know to be true, or better yet, tell yourself that, and then explain it to yourself, and anyone else who'll listen and get involved in the discussion with you, why it's true, and how you know that it is, what your conclusion is based upon and how it connects to, and integrates with, other matters that you know and understand to be true.

How successful you are at this will be evident in whether or not you are able to be cheerful when corrected by another (assuming that they have sufficiently persuaded and convinced you), or even on discovering and admitting your own errors yourself - are you appreciative of what those corrections enable you to better understand and see more clearly how your errors limited your understanding? Do you value the implications of knowing that what you know, is supported in reality, and so is true, over simply agreeing with what others encourage you to believe, in order to find favor with them?

If you can do that to any significant depth... maybe you should try engaging others in that conversation, because you know what? It's not simply an amusement, or a nicety, it is the means of causing real change, and that's the only way we get ourselves out of this philosophical hellhole that we've dug ourselves into, and it's going to require honest thoughtfulness while engaging with those who do and don't agree with you; rather than thoughtlessly repeating an ideological mantra of one side or another. It's going to require considering why you believe what you do, examining what that's based upon, and what it is that that is based upon, and questioning whether they are truly justified, and if so how, and if not, why not?. There is always a goal through which what you've chosen to believe is aiming at. What is true, worthwhile and good, integrates, unites and reveals. What is false, flattering and evil, dis-integrates & mis-integrates, isolates and conceals.

You know you can come to know the real cause of what ails us today. Do something about that, because of that.

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