It’s worth fighting for: reality. Indeed, the only thing really worth fighting for. My version of scripture says, “And what profiteth a man, if he wins all the world, and loses reality?”
Right-wingers are out to overturn a vision of the world that has served us exceedingly well since the Enlightenment: there is an objective reality that, broadly speaking, is the domain of “science,” and there is a subjective reality that, broadly speaking, is the domain of “art.”
Thus we have the sciences and the arts. We have physics and we have mystics. We have demonstrable facts and we have improvable beliefs. We have the predictable orbits of planets and we have the wild improvisations of lovers.
This is the way the world is. But it isn’t the way the Bush administration, conservative talk radio, and the Christian right want it to be. They seek to turn reality upside down, making the objective world subjective and the subjective world objective.
Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq either were there or not there. The objective fact is that no substantive evidence of them was discovered. Yet 72% of those who voted for Bush in 2004 believed otherwise. They were wrong. Kerry voters were much more likely to be right.
This shows that you can fool a lot of people some of the time. But reality wins out in the end. It’s too powerful to be kept down for long. The Dark Ages didn’t last forever. And the American people will get their wits about them again. Soon, I’m confident.
We’re seeing evidence of this in Bush’s continued low approval ratings, notwithstanding his tired attempts to resurrect the “we’ve got to fight them over there so we won’t have to fight them here” lie. Also in the courtroom and ballot box defeats of intelligent design, another example of subjective belief attempting to masquerade as objective reality.
Most people understand the difference between truth and illusion. They know that truth manifests in various guises, some outward and some inward. Not all of reality can be known by science, not by a long shot.
Poetry, music, painting, emotions, religiosity, philosophy, imagination, dreams—these are as much a part of being human as mathematics, logic, research, statistics, reason, observation, experimentation, deduction.
However, the social fabric is threatened when attempts are made to elevate the subjective above the objective in public policy, when truthiness is valued over truth in making decisions that affect society as a whole.
Recently Republican Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said that if Christians are not elected to political office, politicians will “legislate sin” and that God does not intend this country to be “a nation of secular laws.”
Harris is entitled to her own beliefs, as unfounded as they may be. However, neither she nor anyone else is entitled to substitute their subjective view of the cosmos for how things really are.
Human-caused global warming is real. So is evolution, the promise of stem cell research, the dangers of massive budget deficits, looming Medicare shortfalls, and systemic problems in Iraq that show no sign of abating.
Come November I’m betting that most voters will cast their ballots for reality. After six years of neo-con efforts to pull the wool over our eyes, this nation deserves to see clearly again.