“Reality is what you run into when you’re wrong.” – Dallas Willard
What is real in Washington, D.C.?
Fear has gripped the nation’s capital. Fear of the unknown, fear of… what?
My observations are derived from an excellent Fox News article “Mainstream media, celebrities stunned as Mueller report filed with no new indictments planned.” And confirmed by anecdotal evidence.
Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingram, in an embedded video interview, make the observation that Washington D.C. is gripped with fear. People won’t send text messages – they’re afraid information will be leaked and perhaps they will lose their job and their career. Laura describes “the prosecution state” that is no longer rooted in real justice but is a political tool to destroy “the enemy.”
Laura talked about the Pulitzer prize winning author, Jon Meacham, former Executive VP at Random House publisher, who called President Trump a “traitor.” She asks how he, and so many other very well educated and intelligent people, could be swept up in the “frothy frenzy to get Trump” without examining the facts and evidence? Quoting Ingram “We have a big problem on our hands.”
As Christians, we should try to understand a person before engaging them. If a worldview is a person’s basic assumptions about the world, about what is real and true, we ask what is their worldview? How do they understand and interpret the world? Without going into a lot of detail, here are a few beliefs that help us understand them.
- There is no real or objective truth, only perceptions of truth, supported by selective “facts.”
- Highly educated people are better equipped to understand the modern world – the educated elite can be trusted – they are “authoritative” sources of knowledge
- Religion is irrelevant except perhaps for personal happiness – there are no objective moral standards to which we are accountable
- Power is essential – those in power can “fix” things – make everything right
Group think is the tendency for members of a group to accept the consensus ideas of the group without questioning them. While it is always unspoken, educated elites highly value their membership in the group and will rarely if ever consider the possibility that a consensus idea might actually be false or morally wrong. Doing so would jeopardize their acceptance by the group. Occasionally a leading thinker on the Left will publicly question a position and will often become persona non grata (unacceptable) – subject to public scorn and ridicule. There is a positive pressure to conform (to be accepted) and a negative pressure (to avoid being scorned).
The narrative of the elites is driven first by the New York Times and then by mainstream media which often repackages stories from left-leaning media outlets that are long on opinion but short on verified facts.
Anger is the primary motivation now for the Democratic Party. The overarching narrative for the elites over the last two-plus years has been to generate distrust, anger and hatred towards Donald Trump and his supporters. This is critical to turning out the vote and to retaining/regaining power.
We can now begin to understand the sources of fear in DC.
Fear specific to the release of the Mueller report.
- Their narrative is exposed as a fraud – how can we spin this to hold our base and retain credibility?
- Loss of power – how can we sustain anger and hatred for Trump through the 2020 election?
- Retribution – will Trump and his allies turn the tables and do to us what we did to them?
- The environment that they created is now turning on them: a single, unverified accusation can end a career.
- Power has shifted to Trump – and because he is a really evil person (they believe) we should be scared of what he will do next.
Dallas Willard said, “Reality is what you run into when you’re wrong.”
Will elites in D.C. and around the world learn anything from this experience of reality (i.e. the Mueller report)?
Will it cause them to question their basic assumptions – to question their faith in the veracity of the elite media? How could they be so wrong about something so important?
That’s the exact question asked of President Kennedy’s (very smart) advisors that unanimously approved his decision to invade Cuba – the infamous, terribly embarrassing invasion known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The answer was simple: Group think. They each assumed that the other very smart people on the team knew more about it than they did. Nobody asked hard questions. Read the book if you would like the details.
A few conversation starters for your friends that might be caught up in modern-day group think.
- How do you think the media could have gotten this so wrong? Did they make some wrong assumptions? Were they blinded by an agenda?
- Why didn’t they ask hard questions?
- What do you think the truth is (about Trump’s collusion with Russia)? Why do you think that? Have you looked at the evidence on both sides? With all the claims and counter-claims, how do you sort them out – how do you know who’s telling the truth and who’s lying?
- Was justice served? Is it still important to consider people innocent until found guilty in a court of law? Doesn’t this principle protect individuals from unfounded slanderous accusations?
- Do you think this is all political – Democrats vs. Republicans – and we’ll never know what happened? Or do you think that we can know the truth about what really happened? [Is there an objective reality that we can know or is everything subjective?]
- Everyone has a bias. Do you think journalists should still seek to find and report objective truth – looking at all sides of an issue and all relevant facts? Should they try to get beyond their bias and attempt objectivity?
You might like to read my previous article How to Think. I quote the author Alan Jacobs, from his book ‘How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World At Odds.” He wrote that the many books he read about how to think
“provide an astonishingly detailed and wide-ranging litany of the ways that thinking goes astray—the infinitely varied paths we can take toward the seemingly inevitable dead end of Getting It Wrong. And these paths to error have names! Anchoring, availability cascades, confirmation bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the endowment effect, framing effects, group attribution errors, halo effects, ingroup and outgroup homogeneity biases, recency illusions…that’s a small selection, but even so: what a list. What a chronicle of ineptitude, arrogance, sheer dumbassery. So much gone wrong, in so many ways, with such devastating consequences for selves and societies.”
It is my belief that Christians – especially Christians that take thinking seriously – can and should be offering better ideas, better solutions, better ways to think – to our friends and our society.