Welcome to Rockwater Reports,
My name is Katherine Parker. I am an all-around wonk: politics, history, religion, philosophy, and literature are all areas of great interest to me. Having these all dancing in my head at once helps me to have, what I hope you will find, a useful perspective on the landscape of our present culture and age, and that I can have something intelligent to offer about the political winds that blow.
Above all else, however, I want the opinions derived from my reason and education to be based on truth.
I am often found dialoguing with various regulars of C-Span’s Washington Journal on Twitter, where I like to engage with people representing all stripes of political opinion. Keeping an honest and truthful opinion requires one to be open to challenge.
To begin, I wish to present a brief verse:
Strange times are these, in which we live, forsooth ;
When young and old are taught in Falsehood’s school:–
And the man who dares to tell the truth,
Is called at once a lunatic and fool.
— George Francis Train
[as published in Edmunds, A. C. (1871). Pen Sketches of Nebraskans – with Photographs. p. 5]
This is a marvelous quote, but for more reasons than you might think.
The quote speaks of the academic imprudence of its age. We might say that we can relate to it in our own age. However, the truth it resonates is not just because it observes that in strange times truth tellers are prone to be called “lunatics and fools” by their contemporaries.
Additionally, the quote causes us to contemplate the lure of false narratives, and that whole generations can be governed by them. Yet there is still more to know.
The word choices employed by the author is obviously language from a bygone age. If we did not know its author and publication date, we would still suspect it is a thought that comes out of a different era. It would remind us that the problem of falsehoods governing zeitgeist is a perennial problem. Never the less, that is not the only thing about this quote that speaks to the issue of falsehood.
The additional truth reflected by this quote is this:
If you were to do a Google search on this quote, more likely than not the search results you receive will attribute it to Plato.
Plato. Not George Francis Train. Train is the rightful author. He was an American entrepreneur from the 19th Century, a man credited with many ventures that helped to connect the East Coast to the West, and a contributor to the forming of our nation. It is said he is the true inspiration of Phileas Fogg and the story Around the World in 80 Days.
So, in a larger sense, I present this quote to you because it speaks to the ease of misinformation in our Age of Information. And, that Americans are largely unaware of many people and events who are woven into the fabric of America, the significance of them, and how they still impact us today. And we generally persist with an aloof attitude, and fail at critical thinking. For instance, if something poignant is said, does it really matter who said it, if it sounds generally true or we like the way it sounds? If a story is well-told, does it matter if the facts are altered? My answer to both these questions: yes. It does matter who said it, why they said it, and what the ultimate goal was for saying it at all. Also, literary license is an important tool to story-telling, but it behooves the teller, and the hearer, to give consideration to the biographical facts. Otherwise a wholly wrong set of conclusions may be drawn.
“Falsehood’s school” provides ignorance as its education. Yet it is a school that is clear on its destination. If we remain unaware of its destination, it might just take us to a place we don’t really care to be. In might have, in fact, already taken us there.
America’s Current Political Landscape:
Where socioeconomic and cultural optics are concerned, the past three years since Donald Trump was elected President, have been especially remarkable. We have seen:
- Congress behaving in a morally irresponsible way, to a degree that is practically slapstick. Yet many of these elected officials will be handily re-elected.
- Immigration problems include bloodthirsty gang members swinging machetes, who are provided safe harbor in major cities.
- These cities offering safe harbor to immigrants have become, almost overnight, tent cities for a drug-addicted, homeless population that seems to have suddenly exploded.
- Where did all these homeless people come from? From an economy that suddenly tanked? No. The economy is exceptional, better than it has ever been, as measured by so many demographics.
- And I bet you have your own handful of current event issues that anger you, and make you wonder how we ever arrived at this real-life Idiocracy.
The perspective I hope to offer you in my articles is my view on how this happened, and what must happen to improve it. My perspective rests on certain worldview fundamentals. They include:
- The responsibility for “how we got here” is truly a responsibility everyone over the age of 18 must share collectively. Including me.
- Understanding “how we got here” is also a systemic problem in our country and culture, with a socio-economic objective that has been in play for over a century. In other words, we are all born into a flawed perspective that has poorly instructed our thinking (the product of ‘falsehood’s school”). It has led us all to operate, in our respective microcosms, to unwittingly participate in it, and we consequently grind into the various facets of dysfunction that has shaped the various problems in our country. Our tendency – our inclination, even – is to enable and promote the unhealthy aspects of our country, whether we individually identify as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent.
- “How we got here” has a religious explanation that cannot be ignored if our country wishes to achieve sanity again. (“…those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is,” said Mohandas Ghandi, and he was right.)
- Will our society collectively buy into the solution, if there is one, to get to a better place? I don’t know, but one of my interests in contributing to this news and opinion outlet is to arrive at some useful thoughts about it.
My claim to having anything of import to say is based on my own autodidactic pursuits and not any other personal credentials. Therefore, I will humbly present my thoughts with as many completely referenced sources as I can. I want every thought to be backed up by minds greater than my own, and that you will be capable of confirming that the sources are substantive and true.
Because misinformation is so abundant in the “Information Age”, it is my hope to always back up my thoughts as clearly and completely as possible.
I want to tell you the truth of my convictions, and with transparency.
How Worldview Relates to the Pursuit of Truth:
There are some elements of any argument, however, that are anchored in one’s fundamental worldview. Worldviews are not things that can be confirmed or substantiated by a link to a news report.
This cannot be escaped and something that I feel I must address: There is no such thing as an opinion presented from a neutral position. At the bottom of every perspective on anything is a religious perspective. That religion can be Christianity, it can be evolutionist atheism, it can be Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam. It can be Wiccan. It can be the hedonistic life of Jimmy Buffett having Cheeseburgers in Paradise. Whatever is your ultimate answer to your ultimate question of “life, the universe, and everything” (as author Douglas Adams so deftly put it) it will instruct your opinion on everything from what you eat to how you vote. And at a certain level, your devotion to your religion will make you hostile to all other religions that work from a different paradigm. Therefore, my opinions must necessarily operate from the paradigms associated with my faith, and I will defend it rigorously. So let me introduce that to you as well.
I am a Christian. In specific, I am Anglican. That means that I am doctrinally in cahoots with both the Baptist and the Roman Catholic alike. And yet, I am distinct from both. On certain subjects I may be inclined to go into detail about the distinctions, but in brief it would be important for you to know that I consider all denominations faithful to the Apostle’s Creed as my spiritual brethren.
I recognize that America is, in fact, a secular society. No matter how many people in this country go to church, the general culture is hostile to expressions of the Christian faith. This is, in part, because a great swath of people who call themselves Christian are much more secularists than they imagine themselves to be. The reason I say all this is because I do believe that many of the ills of our culture stem from this religious identity crisis. This problem of not rightly understanding who we are, as a society, causes us to not understand the fruits our society produces.
Policies Are Only Products:
It is commonplace, for instance, to cite state and local policies as reasons why places like Los Angeles and San Francisco are suddenly uninhabitable. But what are the ideals ̶ ideals that are possessed with a religious fervor, I might add – that inspired these policies to begin with? In our political banter on social media, where most of us lay down our general opinions, our rants tend to focus on complaints that have more to do with the symptoms of the problems than the fundamental problems themselves. Our complaints and retorts are often lazily framed according to our partisan position (if you think you are immune to this vice you are lying to yourself – I catch myself doing it, too). Yet by and large we have failed to inspect our core to understand why we believe what we believe.
Bad Policy Products Come From Stinkin’ Thinkin’:
If you think I am incorrect, please tune in any weekday to C-Span’s Washington Journal any morning you please, and you will be treated to a litany of callers who are equally inarticulate on any subject discussed, whether they be calling in on the Republican, Democrat, or Independent line.
They are passionate, but in the sense that William Butler Yeats observed:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
For instance, we have been conditioned to think in terms of allegiance to our tribe. Racism, Femininism, LGBTQ are all proscribed tribes. So can the Republican Party, or Democrat Party, be just another tribe. There is nothing wrong with tribalism by itself. Defending one’s tribe with a passionate intensity is not necessarily bad, either. It can be a good, supporting thing, but it can be evil as well. Passion mixed with ignorance is a very dangerous thing, and much evil has resulted from it.
Misinformation is an oft-cited culprit for the spread of dangerous ignorance, and it can whip up people into a very heated passion. If you band them together in a tribe, collectively believing in a bundle of misinformation, riots and revolutions can result, and for not-good reasons.
My next submission will be to present my thoughts on tribalism in modern America, and how I believe it was first introduced as a tool for manipulating the thoughts and imaginations of our American society over a century ago for the purpose of creating division. My report will include some of this misinformation that is such a useful tool for manipulation.
And if you feel you have some thoughts that can complement mine, I always encourage your comment-contribution, as long as it is sincerely given and well-intentioned for the pursuit of truth.
In pursuit of truth, and truly yours,
Feel free to visit me on Twitter by clicking the text links or images avatars in this news story. I and the Rockwater Reports Team look forward to sharing more Patriots Real News with you in the future!