A line from a book I’m currently reading (Anathem, by Neal Stephenson):
Never believe a thing simply because you want it to be true.
This line, known in the book as “Diax’s Rake”, is on the surface a warning against wishful thinking, and was probably modeled off of the writings of Thucydides and/or Francis Bacon (ref: the Anathem Wiki). A moment’s reflection, though, shows a somewhat deeper meaning: it is a plea to face reality, no matter how harsh it may seem. How many of us, upon confronting someone about their unstinting belief in The News According to Fox Media ™, are told: “I watch Fox because they tell me what I want to hear”? I know I’ve heard that, as have several close friends. The problem being, the real world isn’t necessarily what you want to hear. No, “just what you want to hear” is one way to define/describe “entertainment.”
Another place this belief pops up frequently is, well, religion. (Yes, it’s a bit of a tautology: “belief shows up often in belief.” Bear with me…) You won’t see a bit of good news go by that someone isn’t thanking God for it; how often do we see thanks to the people–be they doctors, researchers, firefighters, police, etc.–who worked hard to produce those results? And who should we be thanking (blaming?) for the suffering (in some cases up to years) that went on prior to the positive outcome? (In recent news, “thank God” that the three young ladies in Cleveland were rescued–but what was God doing for the ~10 years they were in captivity? Making sure the Giants would win the World Series?)
I also realize I’m preaching to the choir here. Attempts to break folks of their FOX habits or “Christian-with-a-capital-C” (as my wife calls them) blindness of bad things results in at best being ignored; at worst, escalations into fights (verbal at least–I personally try to avoid the physical ones where possible). Why? Well, you’re not telling them what they want to believe. Sort of defeats the purpose…
On another note, I’ve seen what appears to be an increase in fears of a “grand government overreach” in various areas lately. Most recently, one senator described the failure of the Manchin-Toomey gun control legislation: it failed, not due to the Senate being under the NRA’s control, but because too many gun owners feared that it was the “first step in a massive government overreach.” Many of the complaints about the ACA (“Obamacare”) are phrased the same way. What overreach? Wanting to ensure that people who own potentially lethal tools aren’t criminal or mentally unstable? We already do that, to an extent, with vehicles… Or, perhaps, the critical overreach of wanting to keep the populace healthy, the better to be able to work, thus buoying the economy. How awful.
I apologize for being in “rant mode” so much of late; my tolerance for that kind of stuff seems to have hit a peak. I’ll try to get back to prepping soon; first, there’s gardening to do.