Like others of late, I have been avidly following the January 6th Committee hearings on the attack on the US Capitol.
It has been a fascinating watch. Creepy, too.
Fascinating what we are learning. That what…that we have heard, that we have seen with our eyes, that we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim.” It was coordinated and planned. However, tuning in has also been unpleasant , because of the many members of American politics who – with a gesture of mockery and contempt – refuse to consider what the committee has found.
For them, no tape, none of the footage of violence caught on camera, none of the testimony taken under oath, none of the accounts culled from online messages between people at the highest levels of government will ever be enough.
What we are learning from that day comes from the people who were there. Of people who were bleeding.
But minds are made up.
At one time, what the committee has shown would have counted as damn good evidence.
However, instead of saying, “Hey, maybe it wasn’t all bowling and beer that day,” stalwarts just dig deeper. Or they change ground and rummage the new conspiracies, one of which claims that the former attorney general of the United States was paid by a voting machine company. For them, what is happening in that room is part of a big scheme drawn up by the former president’s enemies to make him look bad.
Give me what the apostle John said when he wrote about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth: “What…we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched, we proclaim this. .” He was there. This was the highest proof he could offer in his day.
Once upon a time, this sort of thing would have counted for something.
Today we have technological instruments not available on Saint John’s day that can take us to the scenes of events on the other side of the world.
But what do we see in these instruments of technology? A stream of politicians in front of the cameras, and without any kind of shame or complementary blush, assures us that what we observed was nothing more serious than a group of tourists visiting the capital: move on.”
Looks like we didn’t see what we saw.
This is such a grave insult to our intelligence. It’s gas lighting on a grand scale. I can only say that these people must have our credulity.
And yet people believe it.
Many turn to a favorite source of opinion and news to interpret what they have seen. There they are told that the January 6 thugs were actually members of another group with which they themselves vehemently and violently disagree, facts of which they are at the same time perversely proud.
How is this possible?
And later we hear that people toe the line and react with fury, and even violence, to anyone who challenges orthodoxy, dogma.
That is precisely what it is: dogma. Sustained and watered with the passion of deep religious beliefs. It is an escape from freedom of thought. It never occurs to him that maybe, just maybe there is something else going on.
As I grow older, I am more and more certain of this: that the best people among my fellows are those who are able to change their minds when presented with conflicting and overwhelming evidence. It is not weakness to admit that we have been wrong. It is a force.
I worry that this determination to stick to a position that has been flatly and repeatedly contradicted by the evidence may one day be taken to its logical conclusion, resulting in a generation that no longer believes in the times table.
The question I always ask myself is: How can anyone believe this bunkum? I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. However, I see people making love to him everywhere.
Because? I know they are not stupid people. And lest anyone wonder, I do not regard this tendency as the possession of any party or creed. I’ve seen people on all sides of the political spectrum and all levels of intelligence fall for palpably ridiculous theories before.
The way I see it, what gets us out of what’s only happening between our ears in the light of day is a good thing. Because there is still the possibility of learning something, of becoming better versions of ourselves.
I recently heard a comedian say that every man should get away from himself once in a while. I suspect for most of us, the reaction would be “Oh boy, it stinks.” It’s painful, I know. But I think the exercise is well worth the pain.
In the Apology, the Greek philosopher Plato wrote that Socrates declared in his judgment that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
I strongly believe in this. We must examine our prejudices, discover what our sting is and why. This includes recognizing our own scapegoating capacity, which I’m sure has a lot to do with our current national malaise.
What was the Holocaust if not a scapegoat on a grand scale? What was 9/11 about but a bunch of bigots who had convinced themselves that the West was to blame for all the ills besetting their society, that they were right and that everyone else was of the devil?
What we have today is an epidemic of human beings who refuse to ever consider that they may be wrong or acknowledge their own hand in the problems that beset this nation.
Sometimes the result of this failure to recognize our own role is that people visit old workplaces and blast everyone they hold responsible for their problems.
Or even attack the government.
Robert Whale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.