Australians are often touted as having a well-tuned at-birth installed “Bull-Dust” detector, but, is this really true? Or are we just telling ourselves something we want to be true in the vain hope it is? In a landscape of ideas divided between equally questionable theorems, where views, opinions and events are seen through one coloured lens or another how can anything truly be true? Or be known to be true?
The prejudice of ideology demands that truth be over-looked in order to preserve the fundamental premise of the ideology, thus subscribers to any ideology will only see truth according to that prejudice. The evidence of this can be seen played out in the media, where the same news event can be presented by differing organisations to represent the underlying prejudice as truth without any two representations being remotely alike. Then, the management of these organisations wonder why the acceptance and purchase of their product is in decline, is it a matter of being truth-blind? Or are they the wilfully ignorant preaching to the choir?
Why is the denial of truth so rampant amongst the ideologically driven? Why is the denial of truth dangerous? Why will the denial of truth lead to the disintegration of the ideologies themselves? All ideologies demand a level of obedience, the more extreme the ideology the greater the demand becomes, thus the greater level of truth denial and accompanied hypocrisy, it is this that allows the ideology and the followers of them to escape the criticism of their ideological flaws, it is truth denial as a means of self-preservation. The denial of truth is incredibly dangerous, the ideologically driven denial of truth is how people accept the practice of killing the unborn, and from the denial of the scientific and the killing of the unborn it is the denial of the truth that all living things have value that leads to genocide. Ideologies and civilisations alike require people to believe in their premise for them to exist and perpetuate, thus ideologies and civilisations that place exacting restrictions on their adherents eventually run out of adherents willing to accept the restrictions or cost of adherence. It is this cost of adherence that eventually fragments and disintegrates ideologies and civilisations alike, and there is no greater cost than the lives of the unborn, ideologies and civilisations require transmission from one generation to the next.
Is the truth transmittable? How do we transmit lies from one generation to the next? What is the price of ignoring the truth? The truth is easily transmittable, however, not always easily believable, if everything we consume is filtered through an ideological prism the freely transmitted truth is even easier to ignore. It was the denial of truth that saw the demise of Sparta and many other civilisations, by denying the realities of their own existence they were unable to evolve and thrive. Spartans denied the natural value of all its children and sacrificed so many of them that although population growth remained controlled it left them wholly reliant on slaves. By ignoring the convergence of land holdings, the principle eligibility of males to be soldiers, at the final battle for its very survival Sparta was only able to field a mere 1,500 soldiers. For denying the self-evident truths Sparta paid the ultimate price, the demise of its civilisation.
Lies are easily transmitted, perhaps more so than truth because a lie is often far more comforting than the truth, thus a lie is often never questioned. A lie, a simple lie cost the lives of tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers during WW II, the lie of invincibility, the belief in this lie proved fatally destructive to the entire Japanese war effort. Adherence to the lie of invincibility ensured that the Japanese never made serious changes to strategies and tactics even after being defeated. This can be said of the Third Reich, the belief in the lie of supremacy was so pervasive, that even when presented with clear evidence that the enigma codes had been broken by the Allies they ignored it, and subsequently lost the war.
From the world of ideas and ideologies and the confrontations between them to the personal, why is truth important as an absolute? We all lie to ourselves, often in a harmless manner but it is when we tell ourselves lies that we view the world through that harm is done. A great truth is as Voltaire once said “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”. However, the person who often convinces us to believe absurdities is ourselves, we allow a lie to ferment till we see it as truth, and when that truth is challenged we then seek to defend it, as it has become a part of our self. Convincing ourselves of a truth stops us from questioning not only that truth but the rationality and conduct of the self that is attached to that truth.
So, to say that any one person or a whole group of people has such a thing as an inbuilt self-correcting lie detector is itself a lie. So why do we believe such a lie? And why do we let such a lie form part of not only national character but frame political discourse? A simple answer is, because it provides us with a false sense of security, self-protection. That is not to say that people can’t tell when they’re being lied to, body language and changes in mannerisms are often registered in the mind as sign that someone is being dishonest but those things are really separate from the idea of the “Australian BS detector”.
Are we being lied to? Why are we being lied to? Who is lying to us? What lies are we being told? What lie am I telling myself? Why am I telling myself those lies?
The above are important questions everyone should be asking continuously, everyone should examine and question themselves and the reality that surrounds them. It is important because we know people lie to us, we expect it, but what we should also expect is that there is a consequence for lying, that there should be no profit in dishonesty. And that process must begin with self, accepting honesty of self and demanding that you yourself be honest through self-questioning will expose that which is less than truthful.
In the end truth will be the demise of ideologies and the ideologues that perpetuate them, the questioning of truth itself leads to evolution not of ideas but those doing the questioning. At the heart of all questioning should be the idea that just because we accept something as truth that doesn’t make it so, either to yourself or everyone else. Knowing that the truth may be seen through an ideological prism should not be an excuse for not pursuing truth or questioning it.
After-all, is it not the truth that shall set us free?