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Who is on the Side of Reason?

November 1, 2009

Who is on the Side of Reason?

We often read and hear stories that seem at first glance to be clear evidence of something obvious. It may be a death; or an attack; a crime or even some random act of kindness. The gaze of the reality is distorted through the lens that is warped by prejudice, perceptions and even confusion. People often look for absolute answers in subjects that will never be settled and where there will never be agreement. Fear is inescapable for anyone who values their life and more so for those that value the lives of others that they know. We look for answers to new situations and in some cases, the answers are provided for us by others. From the dawn of civilization, someone will always say ‘trust me and I will save you.’

Has there ever been a madman who does not claim to be perfectly rational? Has there ever been a butcher of human lives that did not claim to be on ‘the side of reason’? ‘Reason’ and ‘Rational Thinking‘ are words that can have emotional connotations that imply that someone is correct. Even the most irrational decisions can be claimed as rational when enough words are spoken. However it is not whether someone claims to be a rational person that is important, it is whether they can substantiate that claim. There are plenty of usurpers for the position of the ‘Voice of Reason’ and many do so with dark plans.

Dictators that bring forth warped ideologies and enforce them across a nation have been known to choke the entire life from a country. Even elected leaders with great eloquence have dragged nations to war on lies and distortions. They throw lives into the meat grinder of the battlefield for the sake of their own petty little place in the history books. Such people are self-serving and do not care how many lives it will cost until they have what they want. They may speak in rational terms, with logical reasoning but all they do is produce a disaster. It is not merely the words of the moment that matter but the results which they will bring. Even the armies that recruit child soldiers have a rational purpose for such a crime.

How can we tell if we are rational people and on the side of reason when there are so many voices laying claim to that position? How do we know who to trust? (Even the KKK claim to be rational people fighting against an irrational enemy.)

It gets down to what you consider to be the rational outcome you want and the reason why you believe it is correct. This is not an easy answer but it is necessary if you are to avoid just mouthing the word ‘reason’ meaninglessly. What is it that people want with terrorism? What is it that they want from the economy? What is it that they want from life? Why do they want these things? These not just personal questions for you to answer but questions you must ask of those providing answers. Ask this simple question first: Why should you trust what I am writing here? If there is no reason then do not read further…

Still reading I see. Why are you reading this? What do you hope to learn by the end of this post? Do you want to learn something about my thinking or is it just burning curiosity? Is there a reason why you started to read this post? What is that reason?

I do not want people to read what I have written and to nod as they say to themselves ‘This writer wrote it, so it must be correct.’ That would be a failure of everything that I have been writing about. It would be a failure for the reader to question my answers and think for themselves.

The side of reason needs more than just partisan loyalties and blind obedience. It needs a reason. It needs to know that it is seeking the truth in the right direction.

If someone claims to be the ‘voice of reason’ and only provides you with recited answers; insults; bullying; and a total lack of evidence, is it not fair to conclude that they are not ‘the voice of reason.’ If someone claims to be a ‘rational thinking person’ but bases all their opinions upon bigotry, racism, and prejudice, isn’t also fair to conclude that they are not as ‘rational‘ as they claim.

We as human have a choice. Either we do the hard work of thinking for ourselves or we entrust it to others. We can go with the flow or move with the current. We can look for the latest false messiah to see ‘dancing sands in the desert’ or to send our sons to be killed in a war. There are endless numbers of people who want human plebs and automatons to do their bidding. There are just as many who see humans as little more than lemmings needing nothing more than being ordered about. We can also remember that only a corpse will float comfortably with the current.

Do not read this with any smug satisfaction that you are still on the side of reason. How do you know that you are right? Why should I trust your answer? More importantly, why should you trust your own answer? And finally, why should you consider my questions?

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