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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Honest to God!

I want to be honest. I know I labor with illusions and prejudices. But I truly do want to work past them. And I think that that is what active thinking and thoughtful action is all about.

When thinking leads me to dispel the beliefs I have, I change my behavior. As a Jesuit scholastic, I decided not to be ordained as a priest because I no longer believed in priesthood. I rejected religions which held supernatural entities or which used fear, dogmas, and exclusion to sanction behavior. I rejected belief in my or any nation and its laws that promote powerlessness and needless suffering of persons. When I realized that I was racist because it was wound into the structure of my society, I changed my choice of livelihood to fight racism in the social order.

Beliefs and behavior go hand in hand. Honesty it seems to me is a matter of examining the beliefs that guide personal and social behavior--and confronting them regularly and constantly. My study of philosophy and science, physical and social, were my guides in examining my beliefs. But more important I learned that this kind of study, thinking, and knowing is not just found in seminaries, libraries, universities, and offices. It is best discovered in homes, on the street, in the fields, and on the factory floor. It is only by living the situation with others that we can truly understand and share their sufferings.

As a modern man I thought that truth and ethical action were attained through the exercise of reason and following the laws of nature. But now I am not so sure. I resonate with Pascal's "the heart has reasons the mind knows not whereof." I am inspired by the Little Prince that "what is essential is invisible to the eye." And while I am inspired to think, to quest and question everything, I ask myself if thinking itself, about which I have been thinking so much, is also an illusion like all its products.

I feel sorry for those of us who do not realize that we think in metaphors. That imagination is not a prelude to understanding, but the essence of it. That all our dreams, sleeping and waking, are made-up stories. Because if we don't realize the artificial and provisional quality of our thinking. we become so serious. We think we are right. We believe we are important persons around whom the world of everyone and everything else turns. Or we try to hook up to or imitate or follow such a know-it-all Self.

Isn't that what we are doing in this political campaign as we try to select The Leader? The want-to-be Leaders use the illusions of thought, the idols of the marketplace, and the fears of aliens to show themselves as the Ideal Commander in Chief, the Savior of the Nation, the One who will make us great again. They do this to keep us and themselves from thinking. They are not being honest. Self-criticism and humility are not part of the campaign manual--unless they are faked.

We are not being honest if we do not admit our own biases, prejudices, fears, and illusions to which these fakers are appealing using the best that Madison Avenue has to offer with all the money from K Street.

Can honesty work in a presidential campaign. I'd like to think so. I'd like to think that some of our great presidents were honest enough to know that they could be wrong, that their beliefs might need to change, that they could listen to people who were experiencing pains resulting from presiding beliefs and not just use those pains and people to sustain those beliefs.

1 comment:

جیمز روزانه said...


You don't overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.
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