Reformation period art had two consistent characteristics in its illustration of the believers. Catholics were portrayed holding rosaries, while Lutherans were shown holding books, usually Bibles.
The struggle for power is always a struggle of those who desire their power through our ignorance v. those who seek the empowerment of all through education, enlightenment and consequently, freedom. In our day, a new reformation is underway; we can choose to allow those with power to take even more through our ignorance and their empty promises which can never really be, or we can become empowered by seeking, learning, questioning, and thinking.
When I was young, a book was published that was not only vitriolically critical of my religion, but full of half-truths and flat out lies. Churches of different faiths in my hometown were holding meetings to talk about the book, show a movie based on it, and basically sit around bashing this religion they didn’t agree with.
One day I came across this book in my home. I was only 11 or 12, and I went to my mother and asked if I could read it. Her response was that I could, but she had me commit to read my scriptures diligently during the period of time I was reading the book, and she in fact gave me specific guidelines for my own study to ensure my exposure to the whole story.
My parents weren’t afraid of me being exposed to lies, half-truths, and criticisms; they knew where the truth lay, and they had confidence in my ability to find it as long as I had both sides of the discussion in front of me. They knew that to shield me from discussion and debate about things they didn’t agree with or knew to be untrue would only serve to weaken me intellectually and spiritually.
I know it’s human nature to be so wrapped up in one’s opinions and ideas that we refuse to acknowledge anything on the other side. I think it’s probably even human nature to want to shut up those on the other side of the discussion, as our president seems truly pained to not be able to do (although he and many of his associates have given it a good try). It could even be human nature to want to call names, try to demean and discredit, and essentially attempt to undermine those who disagree with us without even addressing our real issues of divergence.
There is, though, danger in this approach.
When our opposition is founded on anything other than truth and its principles, we falter. We become fearful of others being “bombard[ed] with all kinds of content,” and being exposed to “all kinds of arguments.” We shouldn’t fear those arguments, even if we feel they “don’t always rank that high on the truth meter.” Since when, in America, did too much information become something other than a “means of emancipation?” (I know he said epancipation, but I’m trying to not distract from the issue at hand.)
Too many are fooled by platforms founded on lies because they’ve never been exposed to anything other than those lies. Those who’ve not developed the ability to adequately and systematically reason through real and complicated issues can be fooled by one promising the most lavish benefits, or one who places all the blame for everything wrong in your life on the other guy (guilty or not), or one who screams the loudest and tells you that progress is achieved by undermining the building blocks of the most successful society in human history.
I’m trying to figure out what is so scary that our president and so many around him have been systematically working to undermine the free exchange of ideas and attempting to shut down opposition. Remember, if truth is on your side there is nothing to fear. Why so afraid?