I believe in absolute truth; I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; I believe that there are lines in the world that you should never cross, and some lines that you can’t cross even if you wanted to. I most definitively do not believe in the wishy-washy, relativistic worldview that the vast majority of our culture claims to believe in, and which many of the readers of this blog believe in.
And yet, curiously, I find that a lot of those people who will not accept as basic truths those few things I do believe in – a lot of those same people quietly (and sometimes loudly) believe absolutely in their political ideology. But political ideology is a super-stupid thing to believe in absolutely. That’s the one thing in the world I would not hang my absolutist hat on; because really no one knows what the heck the best political solution is for a complicated mass of laws and people and history and anger and desire and hunger and money is. I mean, loving my neighbor is hard, but the principle is firm and it is not actually complicated in theory (though in practice it is difficult and messy). But designing a law that best encourages people to feed the poor while simultaneously rewarding hard work (to name just one of a hundred tensions in that one issue alone) is actually just educated guesswork – at best. Loving my neighbor can be messy, but I feel like I know for the most part what to do; writing laws that best encourage everyone to love everyone else isn’t just messy – it’s multiplied chaos.
That’s why politically I believe in dialecticism – pitting different viewpoints against each other and letting the truth come out in the wash. The best thing would be for each person to consistently weigh all the tensions involved in political decisions as the individual truth-seeking vessels we hope they are, so that the dialecticism occurs within each person. But as that’s not gonna happen often, even in complex and devoted thinkers, the next best thing is for society to have multiple points of view represented and let them hash it out freely.
That’s why I thought (and think) Fox News was the best thing that’s happened to this country in a long time. Why? Because Fox News brings the truth? Good Heavens! Don’t be absurd. Of course Fox News doesn’t bring the truth. Fox News is a conservative media machine that I don’t trust any more than I trust a compass that only points to Louisiana. No, Fox News is not a trustworthy outlet; it does not tell the truth much of the time.
But neither did CNN. CNN used to be a biased liberal machine (and to some degree it still is), and Fox News provided necessary counter-balance to the machine. It forced CNN to consider different points of view and woke up the political elites in the country to how conservative their nation actually is. That’s dialecticism – that’s good for the country. We need the yen and the yang – we need both sides hashing it out.
And yet…and yet…it would be better if we could all take a chill pill and hash it out passionately…but cordially. Hash it out with more reasonable humility, the humility that comes with realizing that only idiots sell their soul to a political program. That no political program is so absolutely correct that we should hang everything on that. So, to all of you, on both sides, I say this. Listen to the wisdom in this C. S. Lewis quote and remember, as you do, the parables Jesus taught about the self-righteous people who thought they were going to Heaven because at least they weren’t like this other guy:
“A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme—whose highest real claim is to reasonable prudence—the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.”