Inside Looking Out: The ball of confusion!
You have to wonder how we can find truth in anything anymore. Our brains are mushed with facts that are not really facts, but opinions, falsified facts, or just plain lies.
The problem began in school for me. I was taught Columbus discovered America. We got a day off from for him so I thought he must have been a hero who battled the stormy seas until he landed on the shores of the New World.
But now, I understand he’s no hero. Not only did he not discover our country, he was a bad man whose crew raped, robbed, and pillaged indigenous people and enslaved them for his own profit. Yet, there he remains on the calendar every 12th of October. At least the stores get to run big sales on behalf of his name.
My school history books taught me that our forefathers were great men, loyal to country and to family. I have read that George Washington, the “Father of our Country” may have been a “Father of Illegitimate Children” as well. Historians claim that he wasn’t faithful to his wife, Martha and he enjoyed being quite the ladies’ man.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that “All Men are Created Equal,” but I guess that didn’t include girls or women. Reportedly, he had an ongoing affair with his 14-year-old slave and sister-in-law, Sally Hemings. Though no legal birth certificates exist, Jefferson and Hemings are thought to have six children together. And when he died, he did not free Ms. Hemings from slavery.
If adultery is no reason to remove Washington and Jefferson from Mount Rushmore, then should having extramarital affairs matter to anyone as long as they contribute to the better welfare of our country?
My history textbooks were filled with “facts.” America was not only the best country in the world, but the only country blessed by God and every war we fought we defeated evil armies led by the devil himself. The books didn’t tell me that winning our wars killed between 25,000 to 75,000 patriots in the Revolutionary War, 620,000 Americans in the Civil War, 116,000 US soldiers in World War I, nearly half a million slain in World War II, 36,000 died in the Korean War, and another 58,000 perished in Vietnam. That doesn’t count Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf or any other wars we fought. The books didn’t tell me that Americans must die so other Americans can live.
Who knows about the accuracy of these numbers? I remember watching the reports on TV that the casualties reported from Vietnam had thousands of more enemy soldiers killed than Americans. That was said so we might feel good about why we were over there.
Like most kids, I played army and my 3-inch tall US soldiers always killed the enemy. I had toy tanks and even an aircraft carrier that shot a jet fighter plane off the ship with a rubber band. We’d play war in the woods using sticks as guns and shooting bullets with sounds we made from our mouths. We glorified war and never were aware of the enormous numbers of young men and women who had not come home to their families from the real thing.
The other day I read about an “Invasion of Normandy” advertised as a war game where young adults dress up in military uniforms and shoot paintballs at each other. I wonder what a veteran who survived the horrors of the real battle would think if his grandson told him, “Hey Gramps, I killed seven enemy soldiers and only died three times in the Invasion of Normandy today.”
Then there is the never-ending argument about who or what created the universe. Was it God? Some say that believing a man in the sky waved his arms one day and the whole world came about is ridiculous. Others say that thinking a tiny little molecule exploded and now we have an earth with a diameter measured at 95 billion light years is absurd. Who or what put the tiny molecule there? Some say God put the first humans on earth and we’re all relatives of Adam and Eve and others say monkeys and apes evolved into humans. Then why are there still monkeys and apes or why hasn’t the human race evolved into something else by now?
If we get only one life to live then why do millions of people believe that they lived a past life and can remember specific details? A toddler remembers being baseball great Lou Gehrig in another lifetime. He recalled playing the game before he knew what it was and traveling with the team on trains before he knew he could travel by train. He recognized Babe Ruth in old photographs.
There are those who say it’s just wild imagination and life is singular determined by genetics only. Yet nature is not a predictably organized system; it reveals random mutations in the animal world and unexpected weather patterns so why should human life be a one shot deal where we’re born from only our ancestors’ DNAs?
I think of Socrates, the wisest man in the ancient world and with all his wisdom and gathered knowledge, he had come to say, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know anything.”
Somehow his words have resonated with me. They declutter my mind from the giant ball of confusion about what’s true and what’s not, leaving me to think I really know nothing. Oddly enough - I’m OK with the freedom I feel from having to know the truth about anything.
Rich Strack can be reached at email@example.com