I had a not-very-good-but-not-very-bad day leading to an exhausted evening. But in the back of my head all day was stuff triggered by the news, and I want to talk about that instead.

I do increasingly feel that we live in a world of lies (olam shel sheker is the Hebrew term, with mystical overtones, but I can use it quite literally). It used to be that politicians of different stripes shared the same values even if they disagreed on the means to attain them, and journalists felt an obligation to report the truth even if it reflected badly on “their” side. There was a time when the impartiality of the BBC was a real thing. Now we’re fragmented into little statelets of like-minded people, in a state of perpetual war with people whose worldviews are incompatible with our own. Even if we wanted to get along, we don’t see the world in the same way (sometimes in a profoundly metaphysical sense e.g. debates around abortion and euthanasia that revolve around the definition of ‘life’). We forget that ‘my opinion’ and ‘my narrative’ is not the same as objective truth (which only God has direct access to).

Note that I am using the first person plural. I want to be a conscientious objector in the culture wars, but people keep pressing guns into my hands, and I do not always get rid of them in time.

Philip K. Dick asked, “How does one fashion a book of resistance, a book of truth in an empire of falsehood, or a book of rectitude in an empire of vicious lies? How does one do this right in front of the enemy?” This is what we must learn to do, those of us who have to write. We must learn to tell the truth. Inevitably, we can only tell the truth as we see it, but we must tell it as we really see it, not as we think we see it or as we want to see it, not as the politicians, journalists, NGOs, etc. want us to see it, even if we lose friends, even if we get ‘cancelled,’ even if we lose our own beliefs in the process. As George Orwell said, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

11 thoughts on “A Conscientious Objector in the Culture Wars

  1. I hear ya. I “canceled” some FB friends who said that the pandemic was a hoax. I thought it was wrong of me to like their kitty pictures and ignore the other stuff… in a way, that was silently saying I was OK with their misinformation. I also dumped a couple men who thought it was funny to post nasty memes about famous women. Even though THOSE women would never see the posts, I saw them and thought… hmm, what are these guys really saying about women in general? I grew very uncomfortable with those posts too. I think this bullying and disinfo speaks to core values rather than a simple difference of opinion on tastes, so it IS important to take a stand. I wasn’t about to get into a fiery argument with them… I just walked away and stopped interacting…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If everyone is shouting their version of the truth from their keyboards, censoring oneself for others’ sake probably doesn’t accomplish all that much. Perhaps the way out of the culture tug of war is not resisting the continual tugs but dropping the rope entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like I wasn’t expressing myself clearly in my post, as what I was trying to say was not to argue back about politics, but to write the truth of my own personal life instead. Somehow that didn’t come across (despite the title), maybe because I was too tired.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s not easy to disengage when it’s relatives or close friends. But I am trying. Perhaps it was an illusion that we could share our opinions with each other logically while basing them on facts, not propaganda. I don’t know anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Whether or not Mark Twain did indeed say this, I think it’s worth remembering every once in a while…. “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and and beat you with experience.”

    Liked by 2 people

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