My Thoughts

Have you had that uncomfortable feeling lately that no matter what you think, or say, or do, it is wrong? Guilty, whether innocent or not; guilty by association, by ancestry, by mere existence? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t? Have you begun to doubt yourself, your sanity? Well, take heart, you are not alone, not by a long shot.

Most of us are not skilled debaters; most would not know a debate if they accidently stepped on one—probably think it was a cow pie—, let alone be skilled in the arcane art of sally and riposte, point, counterpoint, and rejoinder. We are too busy with our ordinary everyday lives to waste time in argument, so we say what we think and immediately we find ourselves indicted, (no trial,) convicted, and sentenced to the waste basket of deplorables never realizing that we have become victims of two logical fallacies: “The Prison of Two Ideas” and the “Kafka trap.”

I first heard of “the prison of two ideas,” from Greg Gutfeld which I know many will instantly dismiss but bear with me for it really makes a lot of logical sense. Often people who disagree or dislike your ideas or position will try to place you in “the prison of two ideas.” Their argument is premised on having only two positions—you are either for or against—and then they place you on the side that sounds the worst. For example:

  • You are either for climate change legislation, or you want people to die
  • You are either for gun control, or you want people to die
  • You are either for open borders, or you want people to die
  • You are either for wearing masks, or you want people to die
  • You are either for closing churches, or you want people to die
  • You are either for black lives matter, or you are a white supremacist, a racist, and you want people to die

But we also allow ourselves to become inmates in our own two-idea prison—by appointing an “idea warden.” This takes the shape of a political leader whose ideas become reflexively accepted as our ideas. Through a subtle submission to authoritarian allure, we end up settling on the side of an argument because he or she holds that side too. It’s political team sport stuff. And so if he decides that X is bad, you agree. If he believes we need less of Y, you do too. But if he changes his mind, realizing that X is good, and Y is a necessity, they you change with him as well. This “idea warden” gives you the freedom to ignore any alternative ideas because you’ve put all your eggs in his basket—whether that basket be trade, immigration or taxes. ~Greg Gutfeld.

Along with the two-idea prison which we too often find ourselves incarcerated, there is the Kafka trap. A Kafka trap is a fallacy where if someone denies being x it is taken as evidence that the person is x since someone who is x would deny being x. The name is derived from the novel The Trial by the Austrian writer Franz Kafka. The reason this is fallacious is that it lumps together people who genuinely are not guilty of a perceived offense in with people who have committed the perceived offence and are trying to escape punishment.

I am a Caucasian American male, therefore, I am a racist, a misogynist, and a xenophobe to boot. Guilty, guilty, guilty!

Too many Americans have imprisoned themselves within the walls of the prison of two ideas: America is either the land of the free and the home of the brave, a shining city on a hill or America is evil and must be destroyed and rebuilt into a socialist utopian dream. No one is perfect. No country is either. But when we fall, we can either get up, shake the dust off and learn from our mistakes or we can wallow in the mud, cry for nanny, and demand we be picked up and coddled, comforted, and assured that nanny will make it all better. Why not simply learn from our mistakes and correct them? Seems logical to me. Wake up America!

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

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: 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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