Tch. Getting my third level of paladin was supposed to make me immune to fear. Yet here we are.
I look at the results of the 2015 general election and I feel fear. I look at the subsequent conversations I’ve had with friends and family and I feel fear. I listen to the rhetoric spewed by the proles that I work with, Republican rhetoric, hateful rhetoric, and I feel fear. I look at the low voter turnout, the stranglehold the oligarchy has on the media, the psychological manipulation that is rampant in our culture, and I feel fear.
Too few are listening. Too few are paying attention.
I fear that we’ve lost the ability to reach consensus. That our political dialectic has been buried beneath an avalanche of lies and confrontation. The corporate media no longer serves the truth, no longer serves the people. Being informed takes initiative and discretion — but with so many sources to choose from, with so many voices confirming your pre-existing beliefs (no matter what they may be), how can anyone possibly be truly “informed?” Even those who do their research will inevitably find the sources that support their opinions much more accurate and compelling than those that do not. Objectivity is impossible, and with an army at your back, why would you ever feel the need to compromise?
I fear that self-doubt is something that Americans are no longer capable of.
It’s an interesting thing, isn’t it, that paladins become immune to fear. It’s a class feature, granted by the divine. But fear is essential to doing the work of the Light. Fear that you might be wrong is the root of compassion. Fear that you might lose is the root of motivation. If you no longer fear that you might be wrong, if you become incapable of self-doubt, then you become a monster. Righteousness deforms into tyranny beneath the weight of the self. One needs only look at the modern political landscape to see the truth of this.
Paladins need fear more than anyone. Our charge is to fight for the Light, but we must always always ALWAYS remember to bear in mind our own fallibility. We must always be willing to listen to the viewpoints of others and consider that we might not have all the answers. The wise man knows nothing, and knows that he knows nothing, as Socrates would say. We must fear our own sense of certainty, our own virtue, lest we fall prey to the sin of delusion.
There are three hundred million people in this country. How can we remain cohesive and work towards a better future without compromise? How can we compromise when we know that we’re right and they’re wrong? How can we compromise when we can’t even talk to each other?
We live in a world where facts have become relative. That’s perhaps the scariest thing of all. If you don’t like what the study shows, do another one, and another, and another, until you find one study that finally invalidates the first, and all that came after. For those who want to believe, the study that confirms their viewpoint is the only one that matters. Data? Polls? Who needs them? Unbiased media? Who needs it? Look around and you’ll find someone agreeing with you, no matter how much of a fucking lunatic you may be.
We’ve forgotten how to agree on anything. Everything in America is up for debate. But without agreement on what data you consider valid, how can you agree on anything derived from those data? That’s the fundamental problem with giving up objective reality or a common frame of reference. And that’s what modern media and the Internet have made us believe — that there’s no objective reality, no absolute frame of reference, no empirical facts. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and everyone’s opinion is equally valid.
This is delusion. It is toxic. It will destroy us. And I fear that it might be too late to stop it.