By Dr. Jim Ferguson
I made myself tune in to the first Presidential debate. I felt it was my civic duty to consider these two pugilists, one of whom will be our next President. Unfortunately, these so-called debates have become spectacle, hyped by the truly despicable and dishonest main stream media. These creatures still describe themselves as “journalists,” though long ago sold their integrity and their souls. Now they just foam at the mouth like rabid dogs at the mention of Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals or Trump.
As I watched the debate spectacle, the movie Gladiator came to mind. This movie chronicles the life of a Roman soldier who was unjustly condemned to death and finally sold into slavery as a gladiator. Blood sport was common during the Roman Empire, where people or animals were slaughtered to entertain the screaming and lusting masses. In fact, Emperors provided “bread and circus” (welfare and entertainment) to placate the mob – EBT cards and reality TV are modern day equivalents. Gladiators battled to the death in the Coliseum. They were also used to execute criminals and Christians, a common practice in first century Rome.
Modern day equivalents of blood sport include bull fights, cock fighting and perhaps Presidential debates, which metaphorically splatter the podiums with blood. Actually, I dislike debates and turned off the contrived battle after less than half way through. Perhaps the only reason there wasn’t actual bloodletting was because neither of the combatants was armed with a gladiatorial trident or gladius (sword). Actually, everyone but the “drive-by media” knows America needs a leader not a debater. We need straight talk not more election year pabulum and Orwellian “double-speak.”
Many complain that Trump and Clinton, our two “champions,” are not Presidential, but then you’d have to define the term. The historical definition has been so tarnished over the last eight years that I doubt a definition is now possible. Democracy is messy, and as Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” The American people selected their Presidential nominees, though Bernie Sanders may disagree. I’ve accepted the nominees, though neither were my first, second or even third choice. As I consider my vote, I reflect on a lesson I learned from involvement with a civil lawsuit years ago. I learned that if you go to court you must have a champion (lawyer) to battle in the arena for you. So I ask, would you send Trump or Clinton into the Coliseum as your champion to fight for America’s best interests and its survival?
A friend of mine once challenged me with the notion that all facts are conditional. When I objected to his unsettling assertion, he further opined that even scientific observations begin with basic assumptions which may be correct or erroneous. The point is that no one can be truly objective because we carry our prejudices and bias into any situation, even scientific experiments or “fact checking.” Rene Descartes understood that even our senses could not be trusted. So, he sealed himself in a dark room in an attempt to remove external influences and finally concluded, “Cogito ergo sum,” or I think therefore I am.
I’m skeptical of the “fact checking” phenomena which is especially pervasive in politics these days. Those who use the Internet find it a wonderful tool for exploring and finding answers. However, as with everything and everyone, there is the potential for fact and fancy, good and bad and everything in between. Sometimes people attach greater relevance to a visual image or the written word. The photo shopping technique possible with digital images has led to the exclusion of pictures in some courts of law. And yet, people trust various web sites like Snopes and the Washington Post “Fact Checker” as gospel, never thinking that these sites are run by people and “journalists” who have inherent bias.
The Gospeler John quoted the Master who once said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus did not say he was the fact because I suspect he recognized that there is a big difference between fact and truth. I’m sure he understood that all our science, observations and facts break down in certain situations. All our knowledge breaks down at the event horizon of a black hole or at the quantum level. Truth, however, is an amalgam of facts/data after they are parsed within our brains and hearts – a place we call conscience, where intuition and gut feelings resonate. I read recently that the mainstream media take what Trump says literally, but does not take him seriously. On the other hand, Trump supporters take Trump seriously, but don’t take what he says literally. These diverse perspectives demonstrate inherent bias and belief systems at work. The major news media have admittedly abandoned any pretense of objectivity where Trump is concerned, and therefore fact checking by NPR, CNN and the Washington Post/New York Times is highly suspect.
So what should we do? I recommend you go to the candidates web sites and read their position statements. You can also listen to their speeches and if you have the stomach for blood sport watch the debates. God gave us the tools to find answers and the brains to analyze “facts” and to distinguish fanciful lies from truth.
Mrs. Clinton, you should know that the designation “deplorables” goes both ways in our dualistic universe. Stating that so many American citizens are deplorable, is far worse than Romney’s recognition that 47% of Americans were disinclined to vote for him.
The ancient eastern concept of dualism holds that when you imagine anything you can conceive of its opposite. Examples are yin and yang, matter and antimatter, God and the Devil, the blessed ones and the deplorables.
You see it goes both ways, Mrs. Clinton. I find your policies, your dishonesty, your poor judgement and your lack of integrity deplorable. I regularly pray that you will be “driven upon [your] knees by the overwhelming conviction that [you] have nowhere else to go.” That was Abraham Lincoln’s conviction and hopefully God’s plan for you.