Nouveau Thoughts: November 2006: Archives

November 26, 2006

Post Election Thoughts On Our Human Identity genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation

The human identity

Since the midterm election I have been pondering the purpose of blogging and I've spent much of my time observing what is now being written in the blogosphere in the wake of an important election. In my virtual silence, I haven't actually had a goal in mind. I found myself having little to say as I sought to digest the meaning of the results...not for one politician or one party but for the country and the world...all the while centered on my passion, humanity. You see, my passion isn't for blogging but for the potential to advance humanity that blogging may provide. I write with a passion for the issues that impact our humanity rather than a passion to blog...and that makes it difficult to blog just for the sake of blogging.

Perhaps that makes me a bad blogger...or at the very least a blogger who would make decisions that may well be contrary to the goal of growing a blog in order to turn it into a money making enterprise. Unfortunately, if my goal were making money, I shouldn't have walked away from a career that certainly did a good job of providing it. With that said, I realize that making money is a necessity...but for me it has to be done as a adjunct to an act of passion for me to feel whole...and more importantly for me to want to continue doing whatever it is that potentially brings home the bacon.

As I've pondered my decision to blog, it has been clear since the outset that passion would have to precede profit...and so it has to this point. As I look back on my blogging, I can pinpoint the choices I've made that have had an impact upon the pursuit of profit. Philosophically, I think of myself as a liberal but by no means am I a purist nor would I want to be. I don't say that as a criticism of liberalism, but as an admission that life isn't that simple nor could I accept living it that way as a matter of prudent considerations.

In starting Thought Theater, I chose to follow my principles regardless of their impact upon popularity or profitability. In describing myself in the section titled "Read about the Director and Cast", I stated "Perhaps I am best described as a contradiction in that I've spent a lifetime searching for an affiliation that I could accept and maintain...one that would, for the most part, define me like a word in the dictionary...and yet I have come to the realization that my identity is always evolving and I am better explained by my inability to be characterized." That in itself is somewhat contrary to blogging. Many, if not most bloggers choose to fit into ideological categories that can be easily discerned by readers and therefore serves to allow quick affiliations and allegiances. That has never worked for me nor was it a consideration when I began to blog.

Early on, I drew readers from a number of the mainstream left leaning blogs as many of my postings were consistent with their liberal content. However, with the candidacy of Ned Lamont, my ideological independence began to emerge which alienated a number of readers and put me at odds with some of the larger blogs. I knew at the time that such postings would potentially undermine my appeal...but as I've stated above, the goal wasn't to be popular and profitable at the expense of my principle goal of pursuing more "truth"...whatever that might ultimately turn out to be. Frankly, I wanted to see if I could be me and still grow a readership...and so far it has succeeded.

Statistically speaking, my experiment in blogging has been to broaden my sampling in order to see if it was possible to amass a following that valued independent thought. To prove my hypothesis, I would have to find readers that were willing to risk leaving the safety of affiliation in favor of what I call the pursuit of more "truth". That would require readers to deliberately place more value upon seeking whatever "truth" can be found or ascertained than in finding support for the "truth" that one might prefer or endorse as a matter of choice. Frankly, that's a tall order given our aversion to conflicting evidence.

From a psychological perspective, one might call Thought Theater an identity experiment. By that I am suggesting that we humans are prone to finding and choosing our identities at an early age and we then spend the rest of our lives attempting to justify that identity...to collect "truths" that support ones beliefs. My own view of my identity is that it will forever remain flexible subject to the discovery of new "truths" and I will therefore forever fail to fit into a standardized identity. The goal of Thought Theater was to see just how many others might view their identity similarly and thus might be open to debate and dialogue that challenged convention and ignored the tidiness of clear and concise categorization.

In high school, it was one of my teachers who made me aware of this identity issue that I am describing. The class was about religion and philosophy and my opinions failed to comport with any prescribed ideology and often left me at odds with both sides of an argument. He made the comment that all I ever sought was more input and more information in order to refine the analysis and distill more "truth"...in fact he said, "You're like a computer trying to solve a problem and insisting that it can't be done without more facts and more information." At the time, he meant it as a compliment but over the years I found it had the potential to be a liability...at least from any practical calculation.

Over the years, many have chosen to call me a contrarian...but that too is an oversimplification. If "truth" is so simple to find, why do we live with wars, have perpetual battles about religion, engage elaborate judicial systems to determine fact from fiction, and vote in order to define tomorrows "truth?" Further, despite all these efforts to expose "truth", we live in a world that determined the earth to be flat, that put people to death for being witches, that supported the notion that some of us were meant to be slaves and therefore not even have a say in defining "truth", and a world that continues to support bias and prejudice in spite of its disconnection from "truth".

So in my post-election silence I've found myself thinking again about the pursuit of more "truth". While I'm glad that the Democrats have wrestled power from the GOP, I remain skeptical that the "truth" will suddenly be found or illuminated. Nancy Pelosi, immediately after the election, told us that she would seek to make this the most ethical congress ever...and within days she supported two ethically challenged individuals for important positions. I don't even know how to find the "truth" in this minor, though relevant incident...let alone how to find the confidence to believe that our votes will lead us to where I would prefer to go...closer to seeking more "truth"...because its pursuit is actually a worthwhile goal regardless of the "truth" that it may uncover.

I fear most of us are forever engaged in the process of supporting the "truth" we prefer and then seeking to impose and institutionalize it rather than attempting to refine more "truth" out of that which we encounter. I can't understand what reward is found in doing as much. Perhaps it equates with the denial that I perceive must be employed to hold any absolute ideology...and therefore it serves to diminish the anxiety that comes with uncertainty or the potential to be wrong.

That all seems contrary to the revered notion of faith which is a concept I admire though do not embrace. I find it troubling that many who assert that they accept the uncertainty of faith simultaneously seek to argue the absolute nature of their beliefs while refuting other matters of fact that do not comport with their ideology. Faith is not fact though many act as if it is. If faith is sufficient for the promise of an afterlife...shouldn't that same faith be sufficient to accept those facts that are certainties in this existence without attempting to overrule them because they stand in opposition to our beliefs? Apparently not...but that supports my identity argument and explains why so many of us humans cling to absolutes despite evidence to the contrary. The closest I can come to faith is found in my unwavering belief in the pursuit of "truth"...but even that isn't an accurate representation of faith since it relies on certainty.

With that said, it is as if where I am going is where others have already concluded that they have arrived. Unfortunately, that difference isn't premised upon "truth" but merely the willingness of some to assert that they already know all or enough of the "truth". That's the problem with elections...they are an opportunity for many to conclude that the "truth" they embrace has been validated and the "truth" embraced by the opposition has been repudiated. Neither assumption can be fully supported yet such is the prevailing conclusion in the aftermath of most elections.

For me, most elections are a letdown...not because of the outcome...but because of what so many believe the outcome means. If one believes that the Bush administration had strayed from "truth" (and I do), then the goal of the election would appropriately be to move the country towards more "truth". Unfortunately, many believe that that "truth" is fully embodied in the president's opponents...a notion I find wholly inadequate and fancifully naïve. Hence my nagging reservations.

Much of what I have read since the election has been a celebration of the vindication of the victor and the vilification of the vanquished. I understand that sentiment but I deny the attempts to portray it as an unequivocal substantiation of "truth". That may eventually come to fruition but winning a majority of the votes doesn't assure as much. In fact, my fear remains that victory is viewed as an opportunity to reject the opponents "truths" and instill the victor's "truths" regardless of either's proximity to any actual "truth". The conclusion seems to be as they say...to the victor go the spoils or he who has the gold writes the rules. Unfortunately, the winning of elections doesn't necessarily bring "truth" or even the pursuit of "truth". All too often it simply brings the opportunity to impose "truth" or at least manipulate or reconstitute it.

Since the victory by the Democrats, it seems that there has been a virtual role reversal. Democrats are now scrutinized as the party in power and the success or failure of the nation is now expected to be measured as a function of their actions. The recognition of our mutual humanity and therefore the importance of our shared objectives are frequently lost in that process. Instead, the winner seeks to advance its prescribed version of humanity...whether it is actually connected to more "truth" often becomes secondary to the ability to impose ones own version of "truth".

Perhaps that is the prevailing limitation of a two party system. It leads to the presumption that there are actually two "truths" rather than the much more logical and harmonious conclusion that we actually share nothing more than our common human "truth"...even though that may at times be very difficult to ascertain. Notwithstanding, if we approached it accordingly, then "truth" would be sought by all rather than imposed by few and the more "truth" that would be obtained, the better served would be the whole of humanity.

Don't get me wrong...there will always be differences of opinion. However, if we agree that "truth" trumps opinion and that it serves humanity, then the search for more "truth" will eventually narrow the gap between opinions and fact will prevail...but only if fact is accepted...and more importantly...accepted even when it negates beliefs or refutes faith. To do otherwise is to separate us from our own humanity such that it becomes possible to condemn it...and therefore to destroy it.

Just as the individual seeks to define his or her identity, so too does humanity. In fact, our human identity precedes our individual identity and therefore we can't find a true identity if we fail to first accept our fundamental human identity. The individual identity can only be authentic if it is "true" to its human identity. Those who elect to first establish the individual identity and then subsequently define our collective human identity in conformance with that specifically chosen, though inauthentic identity, damage all of humanity. Further, they suffer the disease of denial...the ailment that will eventually end humanity if it isn't extinguished.

Such is the danger attached to our selective interpretations of election results. So long as we continue to view our elections as referendums on right and wrong whereby half of the country is affirmed and half is rebuked, we will continue to deny our human connections and cultivate the divisions that undermine our collective humanity and set in motion our collective demise.

As I resume blogging now that the election has passed, I will continue to offer my own efforts to expose more "truth". Rest assured I have my own opinions...but be even more assured that I welcome differing opinions and I am always open to amending mine in the presence of more "truth". Being right or wrong at the expense of others is not my objective. Being right in honoring the sanctity of our mutual human identity is my passion. I hope you will continue to visit Thought Theater as we explore the meaning of our fascinating and fragile human identity.

Daniel DiRito | November 26, 2006 | 8:55 PM | link
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