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If only people were honest and other popular lies

July 26, 2021

As a nurse with significant experience in psychiatric nursing, as well as a hypnotist and life coach, one of the things of which I sometimes remind people is that we never truly escape our family of origin. It is always with us. When we were kids, most of us, at some point, probably said “I’m never going to do (insert something your parents or siblings did),” only to discover, years down the road that we are doing that very thing. That’s an easy example. Here’s another: We say “never gonna do (insert thing your parents or siblings did),” and we are successful in not doing it. That, too, is an example of not escaping our family of origin, if only in that our family or origin provided a real motivation for not doing whatever the “thing” was. Our family of origin influences our actions as well as the way we think and how we look at things. There is a reason that family is often considered the most powerful subculture in the world, in terms of its influence on family members.

We never escape our culture(s). Ever. Just like the family subculture, the greater culture around us, as well as any other subcultures of which we are members (there are a lot of those), influence us. Remember, culture (and subculture) is “the lens through which we see the world.” Likewise, we never escape our basic personality. Finally, we never escape our own, individual philosophies, which we’ll define here as everything we know and how we allow it to affect us.

All of which brings us to the following.

There is a tendency among people all along almost any political or ideological spectrum to argue that if two honest people, of equal intellectual ability and sincerity, are exposed to the same factual information, they will inevitably draw the same, or very nearly the same, conclusions. This is a very comforting belief. After all, if you don’t draw the same conclusion(s) I do, especially about something which matters greatly to me, it clearly means that you (pick one or more)

  • aren’t honest
  • aren’t adequately informed
  • are allowing your political/ideological beliefs, rather than the facts, to form your conclusions
  • suffer from a significant intellectual disability

Sometimes, of course, that belief can be true. It is not, however, always true…or even true most of the time. It is, again, a comforting belief. It is also false. It is a lie, if you will, and one which many of us, perhaps even most of us have come to accept as true. Widespread acceptance is irrelevant. It is still a lie. I submit that it is the acceptance of this lie that makes many of our conversations about things which matter to us so difficult when speaking to someone who disagrees. Self-examination can help here, especially if it helps us identify those beliefs we accept as axiomata. Allow me to illustrate.

I object to virtually all gun control laws. To be clear, I care deeply that people, including and especially children, are often victimized by those who use guns criminally or irresponsibly. I deplore violence. I have no desire to ever harm anyone, in any way, ever again. Holding or carrying a firearm produces no particular feelings for me. Why then, do I oppose gun control?

As far as I can tell, at least part of my family had its origins in Scotland. The Scottish Enlightenment owes a lot to Scottish Presbyterians. The US is an outgrowth of the Enlightenment, especially the Scottish Enlightenment. I was raised in a faith tradition that owes its existence to, you guessed it, Enlightenment-era Scottish Presbyterians. Those are some of the lenses through which I view things and which have influenced my philosophy. For me, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are almost impossible to read sensibly without those particular “lenses” in place. As a result of those lenses, and the way they have influenced my philosophy, two of my axiomata are:

  • Individual liberty is of greater value than safety, and
  • the only legitimate limitation on individual liberty is that I may not use my liberty to infringe upon yours and vice-versa

I know people who disagree. Their axiomata are different. That does not make any of the things in my first list true about them or me.

People are funny.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Gregory K. Taggart permalink

    A thoughtful and insightful commentary.

    You are, of course, correct. I have reached the exact same conclusions.
    It must be admitted that I too am an intellectual product of the Scottish Enlightenment.

  2. Cliff Bonacker permalink

    I too find this a thoughtful & insightful commentary I also agree with it.
    I am not of Scottish descent but a second generation American [ of Prussian Lutheran grand parents on one side & Roman Catholic Italians on the other ]. The American experience & culture of freedom was very right for them despite growing up in two very different cultures.

  3. Old NFO permalink

    Absolutely correct, as we see pretty much EVERY day… dammit… And I come down to the same conclusions you do.

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