In our society, the tendency to approach intellectual conflict with prejudices and with strategic attack and defense mechanisms makes open dialogue dishonest at worst and closed minded at best while providing the incentive and venue for the destruction of moral ideals. It is a real struggle to put these 'tools' aside to find the kernels of truth in the oppositions' arguments. If you manage to do this, you are a rare commodity. What is required is a deep and thorough research into the topic and wading through all the discourse which has already occurred. Assuming your opposition is ignorant, bigoted, prejudiced, and hate filled whether they are or not, closes your opportunities to discern and glean the merits of their arguments. If there is ever to be any progress in understanding and agreement, it begins with an open mind and most importantly, a love for the truth.
Contempt prior to investigation is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance.. William Paley 1794
The higher goal must be to acknowledge facts and truth. This is a difficult point for our youth today due entirely to the fact that so many of our schools are promulgating another anti-wisdom mantra. This one is known as subjective truth. "What's true for you isn't necessarily true for me and what's true for me isn't necessarily true for you." In point of fact, there is only and can only be one truth. "Healthy grass is green" is not subjective. Either its a true statement or its a false one. Opinions are not truth. Opinions are built on false conclusions and limited knowledge more easily than truth can be discerned from the observable facts. However, that mantra encourages the holders of opinions built on preference rather than fact to feel as obligated to express their biased by preference opinions as readily as those who've actually dug through the evidence and thoroughly investigated the truth to gain authority on the topic. In the interest of wisdom and good judgment, we must put aside our preferences and allow our bias to be subjected to criticism on the merits of the evidence.
Finally, we have to acknowledge that no one person can grasp all the facts in macro-complexity, but the best minds establish which facts give the greatest indicators of trends we may observe on a consistent basis. This is where studies performed by professionals and scientist achieve their value. Researchers dig up the best available information while scientist do the work of testing and observation to refute or confirm our assumptions. On the micro scale of interpersonal relationships, we observe the behaviors of those we have relationships with and how they react to our behavior. We lean on traditions and laws to establish which behaviors are acceptable versus repugnant. These traditions and laws are malleable to some extent, but if we are applying micro sensibilities to macro issues, we begin to see a breakdown of traditions and laws that have proven their worth to the society as a whole. Similarly, if we apply the macro sensibilities to our micro relationships, we act in bigoted and damaging ways to those who are nearest to us. One wrecks society the other wrecks individuals. Neither is acceptable. We have to begin to train our young people in the difference between macro benefiting decisions with and micro benefiting decisions in our interpersonal relationships.
In this endeavor, I welcome the examining and challenging of my positions so we can ascertain what is right, good and true. Be forewarned however, I will simultaneously be evaluating your grasp of the truth. Due to the aforementioned tactics, each of us must guard against the immoral influence of personal preference held by our opposition as readily as we guard against our own preferences and temptations to influence others with strategic tactics when our preferential and comfortable positions are untenable. These tactical methods of argument are as natural to us as breathing. We are raised by people and people have been arguing since the beginning of time. So, our parents and our siblings and our neighbors are all teaching us how to 'win' an argument from the time we begin to speak. What they aren't able to do, even if they utilize proper methods of argument is to teach us the advanced disciplined methods of keeping an open mind while simultaneously guarding against the influential strategic tactics of argumentation. This takes discipline, this takes commitment, this takes a love of truth and places it above the justification of our preferences.
Christian influence has held sway in this country from its inception simply because this nation was founded on Christian principals. Our traditions and law are handed down from Christian societies and the founders envisioned a new type of government. One that has never been tried before. That is: The rule of law which holds authority over its government representatives equally as over the common people. There are three motivations for the myriad of forces seeking to undo that rule of law. Each is vying for greater influence than their one vote. They can accomplish this through being elected or selected to positions of authority then use their authority to advocate their preferences. Another is to fund politicians' campaigns to essentially buy advocacy for their cause. This is done by big business and groups who've joined together in a common cause in the form of lobbyists. Still another is through journalism. A journalist's responsibility to inform the public puts him in a position of framing our national discourse and selecting the issues to be discussed. His position is more powerful than the politicians' or their funders' or even the courts and judges'.
Three reasons people advocate rather than manage: Money, Sex, and Power.
Power? how much easier democracy would be, from their point of view, if the views of religious Americans could be safely ignored as ignorant and bigoted. Imagine if Christians could be pushed out of the political process altogether. The strongest voice of opposition to their political aims would be gone. Rev. Wildmon has seen this from the beginning. He knows through first hand experience the battle parents face today teaching their families traditional moral values. And he and his organization have fought tooth and nail to preserve the right of Christians through America to voice their beliefs and bring their opinions to the public square.
Money? The legal vice industry in this country, including not just Hollywood and the media, but huge Fortune 500 companies you would never suspect, makes hundreds of billions, even trillions a year. Christian voters and citizens are their biggest foes, and they want those foes silenced.
Sex? The leadership of the homosexual movement and their allies in the ACLU know that whoever controls the classroom controls the future. All over the country they are pushing programs in public schools that teach Christianity is bigotry, and homosexuality is to be embraced as normal, the equivalent of married love. -- Ann Coulter
Under these circumstances, there is no room for open dialogue and honest discourse. Vast sums of money are being spent on both sides of every political issue and it is used to spread propaganda and hire the best tactical debaters to win their cause advances. Christianity does not stand alone in their fight to preserve the standards which birthed our country but they are the vast majority in that cause. With motivations like those listed above and with the crumbling of our moral traditions generation after generation, the corrupting influence is gaining ground in great strides. Whatever your pet cause, when you look out across the field of intellectual battle, you see other battles for morality and agree with the Christians in their stance on that issue or this issue, but the collective effect of all those attacks on our traditions and standards are whittling away at those traditions and the Christian voice of authority on issues of morality until now, the Christian community is being opposed by state run institutions which have been taken over by advocates for pet causes. These include schools from kindergarten through college to teach humanism and communism. Science has long been used in the effort to devalue the Christian view and now is to the point the Christian scientist has to be silent about his faith or face grant block out and near universal black balling his reputation and career. These are the facts noted in several books and documentaries lately produced, among them "Expelled" by Ben Stein. Thomas Woods notes in his latest book "Meltdown" a similar attack on free market advocates. These aren't legitimate means for setting policy but they are largely successful. and in the fervor to win, many good people with serious credible arguments and factual evidence are being steamrolled by the populist opinion. Another documentary called "Speechless, Silencing the Christians" reports case after case of abuses of the Christians' right to free speech as our speech is being blocked and literally outlawed in the same venues other doctrines are openly supported by those state run institutions.
In the end, we will be facing the same fate as Europe. Hear this secularist Englishman explain the end result of closing off discourse. Here is a government now being faced with violent threats and capitulating to the pressures of forceful dissidence while factions of the political body are signing on to this illegitimate source of power. Think it can't happen here? It already is. Our own political body is fracturing with support for every imaginable opposition to our founding fathers' dream of a free and open society. From ideological talk by the heaviest power brokers in Washington of reinstating the fairness doctrine to shut out the conservative voice which finds its niche on national radio and on the internet, to legally requiring any institution which receives any government funding from allowing any religious activities including speech.
If we are to avoid the inevitable results of totalitarianism (read dictatorship) as demonstrated across the globe over the last century, we have to break totalitarianist tactics and purposely set out to hear every viewpoint and consider it's contribution to the debate on each and every issue as though that voice had no other agenda with which we disagree. Take the truth of the arguments and filter out the advocacy. We must break the trend toward the squelching of speech. We must shatter the glass ceiling of contempt before investigation. I welcome the speech of bigots, homosexuals, Islam.... everyone across the spectrum, but I should not be forced to accept their advocacy as legitimate because somebody got offended by the rejection of their arguments. I welcome criticism of my judgment and behavior because I believe my behavior and judgment stack up to anybody's. I should hope you would welcome mine.