Now that spring training has begun for another season of the Political Liars Circuit, it’s a good time to reflect on the greatness of truth, since it’s a commodity that will be in decreasing supply over the next fourteen months.
The Hillary Fabrication Express is nothing more than a warmup act for what is to come between now and November 2016. As candidates become ever more desperate, the lies, as always, will become ever more frequent and ever more outrageous.
In today’s demented “black lives matter” environment, it’s hard to believe that someone like Socrates actually existed. But he did. In fact, he was born into an age of individual greatness, and was considered to be the most virtuous of all the virtuous men of his time. Socrates was, in fact, the prototype for all subsequent teachers of virtue.
That he spawned Plato, then Aristotle, is all the more tribute to this remarkable man’s moral stature and teaching ability. And today, after more than 2,000 years, he is more admired and beloved than ever. Is there anyone whom you believe will be admired as much as Socrates 2,000 years from now? That is most definitely a rhetorical question.
Given his stature as a paragon of virtue, it’s quite ironic that Socrates was put to death for impiety and immorality. His death at the hands of the orthodox power holders in Athens — 400 years before the birth and death of Christ (falsely accused in a similar fashion — not of heresy, but blasphemy) — underscored the fact that even in the times of yore, “no good deeds went unpunished.”
Socrates’ official sins were that he denied the gods of Greece and was judged to be a “corruptor of youth.” Thus, when you consider the demise of this giant intellectual of Western culture, it belies the aphorism “the truth shall set you free.”
In fact, right up to the very end, Socrates could have escaped that fancy hemlock cocktail the state mixed for him had he been willing to renounce the truth, but he nobly declined. Thus, the dictum that the truth always triumphs is itself an untruth.
The problem is that the average person is inclined toward accepting lies as easily as truths. If this were not so, no one would vote, few products advertised on radio and television would be purchased, and slogans such as “America’s diversity is its greatest strength,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” would be without supporters.
But as discouraging as all this may sound, truth has one big advantage over falsehoods: No matter how many times it is ignored, no matter how many times it is thought to be dead, sooner or later thinking people manage to rediscover it. And when the circumstances of the time are right, they are sometimes even able to resurrect truth and spread it throughout the land.
Fortunately, we no longer put “heretics” to death, at least in the Western world. But advocating something that is true, yet flies in the face of conventional wisdom, can be punished in other ways. We see this in politics all the time. Those who dare to speak out against the status quo (more properly referred to as the “statist quo”) are ridiculed, dismissed, and accused of being extremists.
All of which makes the Trump phenomenon so interesting. Conservatives and libertarians don’t seem to care that Trump has donated to Hillary in the past. Or that he admits to having paid many other politicians for favors. Or that he has sometimes voted Democratic. Or that he’s been married three times and was unfaithful to his first wife.
How is he able to get away with such a track record? Because he’s dredging up truths that people had just about given up on. They don’t give a damn who the messenger is. They just want someone — anyone — to have the courage to deliver the truth. All the other big-name politicians of today fear being thought of as heretics if they dare say anything that goes against established Demopublican beliefs.
This is what made Ron Paul the Socrates of our time, and, in the eyes of the Republican establishment, the ultimate heretic. He simply refused to say things that he considered to be immoral or untrue — and he’s still at it.
The biggest cost of a world that cowers from challenging accepted beliefs is the loss of a multitude of promising fresh intellects that dare not follow any bold, independent train of thought, lest they become outcasts. This is a tragedy of our times — indeed, a tragedy for all times — because the first duty of a great thinker is to follow his intellect, regardless of where it may lead him.
Emerson was so right when he said that “Nothing is as sacred as the integrity of your own mind.” Which is precisely the problem. Today, millions of people have no respect for their own minds. That’s why most of the world’s population is trapped in mental slavery, which makes their brains fertile ground for sound bites, talking points, slogans, and unsubstantiated social media blather.
That said, we can all kick back now and enjoy the Political Liars Circuit (or Circus) of the next fourteen months. But enjoy it only for its entertainment value, while being vigilant about using your intellect to decipher what is true and what is false. Above all, keep reminding yourself that nothing is as sacred as the integrity of your own mind. The alternative is nothing short of mental slavery — or insanity.
And who knows? — perhaps Trump or one of the anti-establishment candidates will even succeed in resurrecting truth for a time. Stranger things have happened. Hmm … on second thought, let me think about that one for a couple of years.