“If you don’t know, you have to ask,” was my dad’s daily directive for all of my childhood. More often than not, this came up in the process of running a profitable family business but he expected me to follow this code at all times. Unfortunately, following his direction meant that I looked really stupid a lot. He possessed a wonderful knack for patiently explaining the answers to my questions but most people were less than happy with my persistent doubts. I challenged people all the time with questions and most often the answer was, “Because I said so.”
My willingness to ask questions and look for every possible problem has served me well. However, there are times when it seems like I’m the only one who cares anymore. The world around me seems to be quite content to accept every bit of information at face value without ever questioning its potential for accuracy or relevance. It seems to me that healthy skepticism is a lost art and we are heading down a path of tacit compliance where the truth is nowhere to be found. Just because someone is on TV, or the internet, making statements about world events, it doesn’t mean we have to believe them. In point of fact, the media is not a good source of information because someone has to pay for those shows to air.
Therefore, the first question to ask is this, “Who has a vested interest in the content of this message?” Only when you understand the priorities of the source can you put the information into context and this includes our government. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by politicians who are joined at the hip with the special interests that funded their reelection campaigns. We must remind ourselves that every elected official owes their power to parties that intentionally strive to remain anonymous.
Which begs the next question we must ask, “What have they got to hide?” A truly virtuous person or entity would have no good reason to hide from public scrutiny. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that anonymous parties are acting in selfish ways and contrary to the public good. Transparency is a detriment to self-serving individuals because negative public opinion can be very costly. That’s why they prefer to hire messengers who possess some degree of credibility that is universally accepted by a majority of the public. Titles are the stock and trade of media types because they connote authenticity without the need for actual accomplishments. In my experience, I have yet to see a Congressman who was ever successful at anything else. I could make the same argument about our Presidents, all the way back to JFK. At least he served with distinction in WWII.
Here’s why this matters. Skepticism is critical if we are ever going to know the truth about anything. We have to ask questions and expect clear definitive answers. We have to constantly ask, “Why?” “What’s in it for them?” “What if the worst happens?” “What if it’s not true?” “What if we’re all wrong?” By forcing the truth out into the open, for all to see, we can protect ourselves from those self-serving individuals who prey on our trusting nature. Asking questions and expressing doubts is a human right. As Americans we have just as much voice in the process of government as any elected official or bureaucrat and we need to constantly remind them that they work for us. We get to ask any question we want and they are obligated to answer completely and honestly. I would much rather look stupid than be foolish enough to believe the half-truths that pass for answers in Washington D.C. If I have the correct facts, I can do my own reasoning but it’s up to me to ask the hard questions.
Thomas Jefferson explained it this way, “Your own reason is the only oracle given to you by heaven.” Lets all make the most of our God-given ability and find a better way to reason.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.