Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Age of Disillusionment (Part 1)

This presidential election is already proving to be interesting.  Before I go further let me assure you that I am not a person who will venture into telling you for whom to vote. I won’t publically endorse candidates or take positions on political issues that have no direct moral or religious attachments.  In this current series I plan to discuss several things that concern me about the direction and tone of the election in general and specifically about why the electorate seems to be enthralled with more and more extreme candidates.  Regardless of the outcome this November, we are electing a president who will lead us into a whole new era or age for our country. In my view, we are leaving the "Information Age" and venturing into "The Age of Disillusionment."

          I’ll start right off by stating my premise that we as a culture are becoming more and more disillusioned. I believe the genesis of our disillusionment is the erosion of what is culturally accepted as truth. The concept of truth today is so muddy that it is almost laughable to even have a discussion about it.  We love to listen to debates over the issues that matter to us. However, our cultural penchant for spinning facts to win the debate is places winning over discovery and that is largely causative. Tie that to the fact that either side of any debate has a virtually limitless resources on the internet (and other people and places) to support their version of the ‘truth’ with facts (valid or otherwise) to "prove it."  The absence of absolute truth has led to the rise of individual truth.  If you ask someone today to tell you what truth is, you are likely to get an answer that starts with, “Well, MY concept of truth is…”  And there you go.  MY concept of truth means I went out on the internet and talked with a few friends and if I’m real ambitious I read a few articles or maybe a book or two and combined the elements picking out bits and pieces that I liked and that became my truth.  Because the concept of truth has become virtually unverifiable, what we see as true has become a matter of personal taste.

          Here is an old example: “Life begins at conception.” Just the mention of that statement inflames old debates and old arguments that when played out always ended up with how opposing intellects defined terms and whose definitions were used.  Rather than seeking to discover truth we settle for opinions that justify our personal world view and call that "our truth."

          We have moved so far from being “one nation under God” that we have lost our anchor. We debate but we have no ultimate authority; no bedrock for truth. That will leave us drifting further away from each other and continually weakened over time.

          Because there is no authority that can win the debate or find the truth we fall into cycles of endless bickering.  Bickering like we see these days would be thought childish and labeled effrontery just half a century ago.  People, especially the young people, grow weary of the bickering and when they grow numb to the bickering they tune it out and focus on things that feel safe and comfortable. It’s no wonder that when young people are asked about what things that really matter to them they often respond with tales of fantasy movies and video games. They chase after vanity and recreation.  They seek escape from the world of relativity and take refuge in what they can control.

          Is it possible that the most extreme and abrasive candidates could be elected in this election? You bet it is.  In the climate I have just described where concepts like 'truth' and 'right' are irrelevant the only choice for the disillusioned is ‘the opposite of what we have had.’


Joshua Clem said...

I must confess. I had to look up the meaning of "effrontery"

Tim Tripp said...

Its just a fancy word for 'rude.'