My Thoughts

The naked truth bears neither guilt nor shame for no garment could ever hope to match its beauty. It is the lie which must be cloaked in subterfuge and cruel deception to conceal its scabrous dishonest guile. Why then has truth suffered such ignominy, so cruelly masked to forbid its light unveiled? The light of truth reveals the lie upon which foul and foolish fantasy does rely and reality therefore be denied. Ignorance shows no partiality for it is a habit common to every creature without exception. Not knowing wears no shame; only a fool denies unknowing, and yet it seems the fool far outdoes the rabbit in its overbreeding.

It was the 17th-century philosopher, René Descartes, who once observed that good sense is the most evenly distributed commodity in the world; for everyone thinks he has just the right amount, and even those people who are the most difficult to please in all other matters never want more than they already have. We cannot help ourselves, it seems, in overestimating our abilities and underestimating our weaknesses. The confidence we hold in our beliefs, in what we believe to be true and the choices we make based on those beliefs is seldom tested for we are convicted by our knowing. It is overconfidence in knowing that of which we are the most ignorant which inevitably leads to our undoing. The less we know a thing or how best to use it the more likely to overestimate our command of it. The more ignorant we are, the more we temper our steel, ill-prepared for challenge or argument.

We suffer greatly from what social psychologists call confirmation bias—that is, when we hold a particular belief, we search out that which we believe supports the belief and explain away or outright ignore that which undermines rational belief in the proposition. When faced with a small amount of supporting evidence and a huge amount of disconfirming or falsifying evidence, we focus on that which backs us up and use it to swamp the overwhelming evidence against us—especially when the belief is core to our worldview. We see this often in the world of politics.

We will do whatever we need to in order to save our preexisting beliefs. … We are acculturated into a belief system, and the worldview it gives us—the basic categories and presuppositions that come with it—is notoriously difficult to change.

Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, discussed what he called “social facts,” which we acquire from being part of a society. Social facts are ways of thinking or acting that originate outside the individual, are enforced by the society, and become a part of the individual. These are beliefs that become invisible to us because they are the lens through which we see the world, and questioning their truth strikes us as absurd, if not dangerous.[1]

Most consider themselves to be independent minded, and yet, the views of others influence our thoughts and behaviors. We are social beings, we want to belong, we naturally desire to be in the company of like-minded souls. It is not in our nature to avoid the comfort obtained in being with others, to stand apart from the consenting crowd and believe what they do not; such independence of thought despairs the soul and fills the heart with unreasoned doubt. Surrounding ourselves with those of like-mind comforts us like a warm blanket that repels the bitter cold, but such a warm embrace too often leads us to “irrational exuberance”[2] and undeserved overconfidence in what we know and in what we believe to be true.

From an essay, An Adversity to Diversity (Colloqui, December 21, 2018). It seems time has not advanced our minds much at all, though I have of recent observed a stirring akin to a chick pecking at the shell eager to be born. There is hope.

Wake up America.

Just my thoughts for a Monday, for what it is worth.

[1] Steven Gimbel, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Gettysburg College, “An Introduction to Formal Logic”, 2016.

[2] Alan Greenspan, “The Challenge of Central Banking in a Democratic Society”, American Enterprise Institute, 1996.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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