All Truths Are Not Created Equal ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, July 20, 2006

All Truths Are Not Created Equal

I’m still not back to 100% health, but I found this old editorial I wrote during my tenure as Editor-in-Chief at Johnson County Community College (Overland Park, Kansas). This would have been my sophomore year of college, about six years ago… Despite my better judgment, I’m posting the piece almost in its entirety. This was the final editorial I wrote for the Campus Ledger.


…Going to classes here and editing a newspaper have given me more than my fill of life lessons. Several can be summarized briefly:

  • Good friends are hard to find. When speaking to people, the key is sometimes hearing what they’re saying and not what they’re telling you; with good friends, the two elements are the same.
  • Real education is training to live! Learning is having active tools placed in our hands (minds), not receiving temporary info-fixes.
  • Schoolwork is not real work, people. Unfortunately, the next crop of McDonald’s All-Americans, college students who have brilliantly developed the ability to boil greasy fries at McDonald’s, are already in the wings.

However, the deepest lesson I am taking from my experience here is this: There is nothing so beautiful or unique or true that it cannot be obscured by self-deception. The few precious things in life are victimized by many popular trends: lazy reasoning, greedy self-justification, purely functionalist explanations or too much to drink.

Nothing is so dangerous to life-direction and a fulfilled and joyful existence as the hideous popular assumption that all beliefs and practices are equally “good.”

Somehow, in the ensuing shuffle, things are lost that we didn’t mean to throw away: Integrity. Hope. Patriotism. Completely pure sex.

Some things really are better and more wonderful, folks. Some things are truly more worthless and dark. Neither all religions nor all mental states are created equal. Life is not a level playing field.

It’s far better to go through life fully awake than in a drunken stupor. It seems ironic that someone could even point this out, and be making a point, but the irony is a reality.

Under the banner of “tolerance,” wherein every viewpoint and behavior is equally valid, one could assert that an alcoholic or drug-induced reality has genuine social worth and desirability. And, in the name of “tolerance,” we would have to nod and say, “That’s right.”

If we are honest, we will have to admit, as one of the first modern thinkers suggested, that without the conscious process of seeking truth and beauty, we may as well be governed by a dog. Who’s to say that a dog’s social idioms might not suit us better than some of the ones we currently enjoy?

In the name of tolerance, we assume the right to organize and evaluate every framework of knowledge…but in that same name, we have no right to evaluate anything. We say that everything is equal, and at the same time try to discover what is best.

We want to be arbiters of “good” itself, but in doing so, we destroy any basis for ever finding it. So much is lost. So much is ruined, as in the name of tolerance, we destroy any chance that we will ever find truth or beauty, and suddenly the excellent is no better than the filth.

This knowledge touches deeply every area of life.

The popular campus culture is in some ways worth much less than the can you may recycle. Twenty years from now, many students will regret wasted time, wasted effort, drugs and promiscuous sex. Some already do.

There will be tears over one-night stands and carelessly developed addictions, accepted because such a lifestyle was “equally valid.” There will be tears over virginity and personal integrity, thrown away because such a lifestyle was “equally worthless.”

There is nothing so beautiful or unique or true that it cannot be obscured by self-deception.

Thank God that pain and fragmentary questions can be silenced and resolved into peace through Jesus Christ.

We don’t do things just to have something to do. We do things because they are helpful or detrimental, good or evil, and there is always a difference. Don’t forget that.

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massivetruth said...

Awesome. I love the post. I will definitely add some of this to my quote book.

Andy said...

Powerful stuff, Ariel. I applaud you for your strength of conviction to write this for a clearly secular institution - such an editorial, I fear, would not have been allowed at my own university out here on the West Coast.

I, too, will reference this post at some point down the line. Thanks for sharing this.

Iambic Admonit said...

Wow, man, you wrote this at a community college? What kinds of responses did you get? Very brave...

~ Admonit

Ariel said...

Serving as Editor-in-Chief at a school of 30,000 commuter students had its challenges.

My editorials stirred up some antagonism, but not as much as I would have expected. Some of this might be attributed to the fact that commuter students flat out don't care so much about their school's identity, or what gets published under the school bannerhead.

As it was, I also got some feedback from people who said they'd been provoked to think about spiritual things... that was always good to hear. Being on campus was good times.

Timothy Goering said...

I know I'm a little late, but just really wanted to comment on the topic of tolerance.
I really enjoy reading this blog, and this post is once again written fantastically!
I had a class a few semesters ago on the historical development of tolerance, especially religious tolerance (a 'few' years ago it was impossible to separate this!). One of the many things I learned here was that, yes, we live in a pluralistic society that practices tolerance, even institutionally. The point seems pretty flat and not exciting, but compared to the past it is quite amazing. After the Reformation horrible things happened in the name of God and Religion. Around 1650s you had thousands of people killed and deported, because they didn't have the confession they should have had in their territory. And that's inside the realm of one and the same religion (Christianity), I don't think I need to point out the conflicts between different religions!
My point is that, yes, tolerance is not only good: it compresses and compromises the access to truth to the point that it seems that there is no objective truth! BUT: I think it does play an important role in our society, church, neighborhood, classroom. We (as christians, muslims or agnoistics) must be humble enough to admit, that we cannot prove our worldview. You cannot prove that God exists and that he speaks throught the Bible as little as you can disprove Him! If you acknowledge that, then I think tolerance is at a healthy point. Is there an obsolute truth? Well, I think so, but I know for now it cannot be proven, and must remain inter-subjective.
So: even though tolerance is a compromise, it naturally HAS to be! If it happens in humility and with wisdom then I think we should celebrate and tolerate the world's diversity while at the same time we lament over decisions that we don't agree with and think stand in conflict with God's plan.

Ariel said...

Hey, thanks for weighing in, Timothy. For the most part, I think I agree with your perspective.

"I think we should celebrate and tolerate the world's diversity while at the same time we lament over decisions that we don't agree with and think stand in conflict with God's plan."

I'm with you here, and I enjoy the richness that cultural pluralism brings to our societies.

"You cannot prove that God exists and that he speaks throught the Bible as little as you can disprove Him! ...obsolute truth...cannot be proven, and must remain inter-subjective."

I'm not sure precisely what you mean here, but I'm not sure I would go this far. Agreed, we cannot "empirically" prove that God exists, and Christ didn't attempt to provide anyone with this type of evidence. However, Christianity is a rational faith; this is a consequence of truth. Therefore, various types of evidence are available.

Philosophical proofs, historical accounts, manuscript evidence, existential questioning - all these types of truth tests can be brought to bear on Christianity with effect. Other faiths cannot say the same. Thus, we can present compelling "arguments" for Christianity - this is why we find Paul "reasoning daily" with the Greeks, attempting to persuade them concerning the truth of Christ. Reason is the ally of the Christian and a friend to faith in Christ, even if it cannot take us all the way to belief, or compel people to enter Christ's kingdom.

Ultimately, my editorial is an attempt to point out the consequences of a pluralism taken to a suicidal extreme. We must assert an equality of people while arguing for a hierarchy of ideas. Not all ideas are created equal, and there is proof to show it.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife