Some thoughts on Truth…and how complicated it can be.

Greetings and Salutations.

A friend of mine posted the image to our right on Facebook today. It, upon first reading, seems nonsensical. Believers know that Christ says “Know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free”. People always talk about how important the Truth is, and how it will clarify things. Yet, this sign seems to contradict this. The conversation on Facebook explored this issue a bit, so, I thought I would quote some of it, and add my thoughts at the end.

My first comment on this image was, perhaps, too dismissive. I said “There are none so blind as those that will not see. A great sign, and most amusing…but, that is why I continually work to expand my knowledge. “TRUTH” always makes sense. If it does not make sense to me, than it is because I do not understand what I am seeing.

My friend’s reply made some very valid points, and encouraged me to think more deeply about the meaning of the sign. If nothing else, it motivated me to the point of moving from a Short Reply on Facebook to this, somewhat lengthy examination. She said “When I see the truth in nature as a butterfly’s wings or the symmetry of a flowers petals… I am at wits end… or when I see the truth of humanity in its need to repeat itself in war and fascism I am confused…Hence in those truths I am baffled…It doesn’t make sense to me that in nature everything is so symmetrical…Why isn’t it just thrown together?And as for human nature we repeat ourselves in giving pain to ourselves and others. This truth also seems complicated.

After reading these excellent and insightful observations I realized I was skimming the surface of the sign…and that it was worth a deeper dive. So, I thought I would, more or less, address the points she raised.

My mind is very Pattern oriented, so I noticed early on that Nature does rather like mathematical patterns…I point to the Fibonacci spiral pattern of the seeds and flowerlets of Dandelions, Sunflowers and other flowers. I point to the orbital mechanics of the planets, as they lumber along around their star…and, the fact that this same, local orbital patter which will scale up to the movement of the Galaxy around its core, and will continue on, as far as I know, to the Universe itself. In the Animal world (and I include insects here) there is the bilateral symmetry of the bodies of almost every living thing. All of these examples of non-random patterns are interpreted by different people in different ways.

For some people, this universal use of patterns is proof of Intelligent Design and a God-Creator. I have heard, so many times, the opinion expressed that the world is just too orderly for there NOT to be a God.

For other people, though, the patterns come about because there is either a physics based, or an evolutionary explanation that explains the patterns. In the world of the inanimate (mainly) the rules of physics state that any system will tend to seek the lowest energy state. This, for example is why we see a ball, thrown into the air, arc up and then down, landing on the ground, and not moving. The energy of our throw is converted to potential energy – as the ball rises up in the gravitational field of the planet, and, a small amount of heat from friction. At some point the kinetic energy of the ball is completely converted to potential energy. at that point, it stops rising, and falls to the ground. Amusingly enough, when it hits the ground the potential energy from the peak of the arc has been, again, converted to kinetic energy (and yet again, a little heat). When the ball hits the ground, let us say, on a chunk of a granite slab sticking out of the ground, essentially all the kinetic energy of the ball is transferred to the Earth…causing it to shake a bit…The ball, following the physics of Newton’s Laws, then, simply lays there. it had reached its lowest energy state. Without turning this into “The Gulag Archipelago”, this same process works on various levels of magnification, from the interaction of sub-atomic particles to, again, the Universe itself. And yes, if any of you physics majors are reading this and about to write a testy comment…I am fully aware of the fact that I am summarizing topics that fill entire libraries with a few, generalized lines… So let us move on.

Let us now, look at living creatures….for them, the Evolutionary Rules that have been developed boil down to the simple fact that Nature tends to try and use the minimal amount of energy needed to survive, and ensure survival. This leads to some pretty amazing, and apparently deliberate patterns.

In the examples of humans and other mobile creatures, the general details of symmetry are there because asymmetrical design causes much more effort to move, and can be fatal. Animals that are predators have sensory organs (Eyes, ears, heat sensors, etc) that are fairly close together on the skull, and pointed in the same direction. Binocular vision is very useful in determining distance and velocity. This also is vital for tree dwellers, as misjudging the distance to a branch can be fatal. Bats, using echo location, can tell to a fraction of an inch where their prey is located by processing the sound that bounces back from their chirps, and is collected by their ears. In humans, the same tools are available because of the location of eyes and ears on the head…although, we are nearly deaf and blind compared to other animals. IF, for example, it was vital for animals to locate prey and danger via smell, I am sure that we would see noses that are very different from what exists now. I postulate that they would be quite broad, and instead of two openings that allow airflow into a single sinus cavity, we would see two separated air channels, with many sensors in both channels.

To move on to Prey animals – They often have eyes that are widely separated, and may even be on opposite sides of the skull. They rarely work well for binocular vision. perhaps one of the most amusing examples of this evolution is the Flounder, and other flat-fish. They spend their lives laying on the floor of the ocean, watching for food. So, their eyes have ended up with both of them on ONE side of their skulls! They, and similar animals need a very broad view, because they have to find forage, but how far away it is is not that important.

Human beings are, in some ways very short-sighted. Almost all humans seem to work on the principle that reality has always been the way it has been during their lifetimes. This blinds them to the reality that the Earth has been around for billions of years – a number that is nearly impossible to grasp – and during that time the creatures on the Earth have undergone many changes…some, like reptiles, have seen relative small changes…others like warm blooded creatures have seen HUGE changes…changes so radical that were we to come face to face with an ancestor of, say, half a million years ago, we might not recognize them as “human” That, alas, gets into the concept of “The Other” which I have written about elsewhere, and is complicated enough that I am simply mentioning it in passing.

While I have avoided it so far, I am forced to examine the aspects of humanity mentioned in the above post. Alas, understanding on more than an intellectual level, of the minds of other humans is a terrible and nearly impossible task. The mind is so complex, and has so many twists and turns, that motivations, actions and attitudes can cause great puzzlement, to say the least. I have yet to truly understand much of it…although I am better at recognizing what is going on than I used to be. With the provision that anything I write here is going to only touch on the complicated workings of the human mind, I shall address some of the points brought up.

First off…I want to address the issue of inflicting pain – usually emotional – on ourselves and others. I have observed a number of factors here.

  • There is the issue of programming. In short, our parents often write indelible lessons on the blanks slate of our mind, when we are children that can control both our actions and our attitudes about ourselves for the rest of our lives. Too many people simply believe that this program is simply the way life is….They never dive into the complicated and difficult process of excavating that deeply hidden programming and fearlessly looking at them in the Sunlight. I am more than a little bit of a control freak, and, because of the dysfunctional family situation I grew up in, I have been seeking out and trying to excise that early programming for decades. It is, apparently a life-long task. However, as difficult and painful as that road may be, it gets easier, and knowing the truth does set one free. As one example, my parents were, in general, great folks. But they had very high standards of behavior in some areas. So, as I was growing up, I was bombarded with expressions of disappointment when I would screw up, and left with a lesson that I was a bad person because of my failings. It is one of those things that, while that might work with a teenager, telling it to a 3 year old child, over and over again, leaves scars and programming that continue to bring pain for decades. I was also blamed for things that I had nothing to do with…and no control over, so, that layered on more anger at myself, and the pain I felt from my existence.
  • Depending on our level of comfort with ourselves, the words of others can have exaggerated influence on our attitudes. If, for example, one is comfortable in one’s skin, then, the critical, insulting, or cutting remarks others throw at us can have far less of a painful response than if we are continually undercutting ourselves.
  • Speaking of which…for all of us, to some extent, the one voice we cannot block out easily is that little demon that lives in our head, and whispers lies to us. It tells us that we really are worthless. It will claim that our physical disabilities are causing problems for others, and they really hate us for that. It will continually tell us that if WE can do something, it must be something that ANYONE can do, and probably better than we do. It says we are bad people because we are disappointing other folks. It does not matter if that is because we are not getting everything done when they want it done, or whether we are so uppity to express annoyance when we think they are in the wrong about something, or that we are not living our life the way THEY think we should live it, or even that we are not available to their every beck and call. Because that demon is a manifestation of ourselves, it can be impossible at times to ignore it. By paying attention to that demon, we give it power, and accept what it is saying as to be truth. That is false, as the demon NEVER tells the truth.

These lies erode away our self image causing many issues that make life far more difficult for us. While it varies from person to person, I have observed such things as Giving other people the ability to push our buttons and trigger an over the top emotional reaction; Laying in bed at night, staring up into the darkness, and beating ourselves up as we focus on the supposed “infinite failures” of the day; Making terrible choices in people to have relationships with; Clinging to those relationships far too long…This includes hooking up to manipulators, abusers, “Father/Mother Figures” so we can assume the role of the child we were denied in the past and the like; Putting our lives on hold in order to serve the needs and wants of others; Allowing others to make life decisions for us; Being plagued with unreasonable fears that limit our ability to truly live life to the fullest. As discussed above, though, with help, it is possible to root out the programming that causes these issues, and, that Truth will set us free from them. Realistically, it will not make their control of us vanish, nor will it wipe the programming away from our Mind’s Slate. However, this Understanding WILL allow us to control the amount this programming can control us. More often than not, when we can see we are reacting in a given way, we can decide whether those reactions are appropriate, or, divert and NOT let our actions be dictated by the programming.

The issue of war has generated libraries full of writings. Before I get too far into an examination of this ugly subject, I will say that my personal belief has two main facets. Firstly, War is a terrible idea, and should be the last, extreme measure that one is forced to engage in. I am a strong believer in diplomacy and negotiation. Secondly, I never support firing the first shot. If I am attacked, either on a personal or a national level, I will do my best to ensure that I do what is necessary to END that war. However, here, I will mainly address the issue of groups, not individuals, going to war. I am pretty sure, though, that many of the reasons conflict arises between groups will apply to individual conflicts as well!

Now then… Why DO people go to war? I have seen several excuses for taking up arms against another group.

  1. First off, of course, is the whole concept of “The Other” which I touched on and linked to above. The suspicions and instinctive dislike of the stranger can put all parties on a “Fight or Flee” status, leaving them with a hair trigger. This also leads to looking at our opponents or the strangers as being less than human, and so, not worthy of that level of respect.
  2. There is the claim that the group going to war is simply doing so to help the other group escape oppressive situations, and find a better way to live.
  3. There is the claim of injustices by the the other group against one’s own group.
  4. There is the reality that the other group may have resources that one’s own group wants or believes they need.
  5. There is the unfortunate reality that humanity is a violent species. We sometimes LOOK for reasons to engage in conflict. On a small scale, look at bar fights. For no sane reason, one group will express contempt for another group, for no other reason than they want to beat someone up. On a larger scale, look at the events at the Capitol on Jan 6th.

Realistically, items 2 through 4 are little more than excuses for Colonial Overlords to take over a land. Look at the complex culture of the First Peoples in North America as a perfect example of this.

Items 1 and 5 are the genesis of so many of the hate crimes and racist actions and violence we see growing in America today. These are all very challenging issues to address, alas, and overcoming their influence will, I suspect NEVER be completely possible.

“Why do people turn to fascism?” I see several factors that contribute to this….

  1. Fear. The world today is very chaotic and moving amazingly rapidly all the time…The change in this reality, just in the past 50 years has been almost unimaginable. The progress of technology, from the steam engines of the 1800s to the technology of electronics and computers that took root and really grew in the 1940s was a large change, indeed. However, in my view, the invention of the World Wide Web was as huge a change for society is Gutenberg’s developing the printing press for the Western World. The influence of the Web has permeated our society and as such is fearsome for some folks. They do not understand it even if they can use it. There are other factors that are fear inducing, that I have written about elsewhere, at greater detail. This essay, by the by focuses on the Cultists that worship #3×2, but, to some level these apply to all of us.
  2. Because of that fear mentioned above, people want a solid rock to cling to in the storm. With all of its faults, a fascist government does offer a very simple, solid, and unchanging structure for folks.
  3. Hate. almost everyone has a group that they hate with a passion so great that they would celebrate their death, then, seek out their graves just so they can piss on them. Fascist leaders use this hate as a tool to build support, demonstrating to the followers that the Leader hates the same people they do, and will implement policies that will hurt or kill them.
  4. Ignorance. People who are poorly educated, do not understand much of the world. This loops us back to item 1, of course. It means that they are likely to be easily fooled, and will willingly believe the fascist leader who promises them the world. This ignorance also ensures that they do not really understand the various forms of government, and their facets, so, they are unable to recognize when they are being lead down the garden path to install a fascist dictator to have power over them. One of my “go to” sources, a vblogger who calls himself Beau of the Fifth Column, recently had a very interesting video blog wherein he demonstrates the dangers of this ignorance VERY clearly. It is well worth a watch! Another example of this is the screaming by the Republicants about how Democrats and Liberals are COMMUNISTS! While the programs of the Liberal world are somewhat socialist in nature, as they are oriented towards making sure that all citizens are treated equally, and have the same access to basic necessities…and working to ensure that a wealth gap such as exists today can be stopped, NONE of their attitudes or actions are Communist. Ignorance and manipulation in action on the part of the Right-Wing.
  5. Willing blindness or denial. Many folks may be attracted to fascism because they believe that the abuses documented are lies by the jealous; They believe that they will be part of the Ruling Class in such a society…or at least the privileged class; They believe that they will never suffer any negative aspects of the society.
  6. As with many aspects of reality, they have never actually lived in a fascist dictatorship…so they can idealize it…rather like so many folks watch the “Andy of Mayberry” re-runs and believe they are watching a documentary of how life was when they were young…not a moderately amusing Sit-Com.

This is, alas, another essay were I find it difficult to suggest fixes for the problems. They are not insurmountable, but, dealing with them will be a complex and slow process. The first thing, though, that springs to mind is that we must do some serious work on the school system. I have written a couple of essays on this, here is one where I address in some detail the issues I see, and offer some changes that might help address those issues. By working to educate the students from day one, to use the tools of skeptical thinking, and research, we can in a generation or two, get a population that is far less likely to be mislead by smoke and mirrors. Secondly, as I touch on in the linked essay, we have got to start working to fight against the massive contempt that too many Americans have for intellect and education. That attitude breeds ignorance, both in adults and children. it also undercuts any efforts the educational system makes to improve the education of the youth. Thirdly, after the past four years of having insults, and denigrating phrases thrown at anyone who questions the “Dear Leader”, I strongly advocate for those people who act as domestic terrorists, like the insurrectionists who waged war against the Constitution and government on Jan 6, to be given appropriate sentences, and NOT let go, or minimized. Fourthly, there are a number of changes that I think really need to happen to the political system to help bring up the quality of life of most Americans, and, keep some of the extremist outlets of disinformation under control. There are more, of course, but these are the high-lights that would be a good start. I have talked about some of these changes in other blog essays, which should be relatively easy to find with the search engine built into the site.

To finish up, and to finally return to the sign that started all of this…It does have some truth to it…and as I mentioned early on, sometimes all we can do is look at the ideas and opinions of others with, at best, an intellectual understanding of where they are coming from. We have to be mindful, when doing this, that far too often, the attitudes and mindsets of others can be based on lies, and not factual data…the Truth. That may not make it easier to deal with them, but, at least we know what is driving them, when interacting with them.

God Help Us All! Be Safe…Wear your mask, socially distance, minimize trips and wash your hands properly.

Bee Man Dave.

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