Saturday, 29 June 2013
Fortresses And Prisons
When you find something true, something good, something important, it seems only natural to protect it. To keep it safe from the barbarians at the door, from the philistines and the heathens, from the dishonest and the deluded.
Argue the arguments, fight the fights. Build great lines of defence, minefields and wire of evidence and polemic.
Keep it pure, keep it safe. This is a pattern that recurs through many things both big and small. The great institutions of religion, all over the world, both West and East, have often cast themselves in a constant state of siege. Inquisitions, blasphemy laws, heresy, all to protect what's true, because the truth is the only thing that matters, and must be protected.
But it's not just religion. The siege is a constant theme through much politics too - conservative values under siege from Godless liberals, liberal values under siege from backward conservatives, science under siege from irrationality, hope under siege by despair.
And so a great deal of our effort goes into the construction of fortifications, whatever we believe. Fortify against this, fortify against that.
Except, a wall is a two-way thing. You can't keep people out without locking yourself away. And no matter how extreme and deluded a system of thought becomes in the extreme fortifications that it builds, how exaggerated, how intense, how severed from reality...
...there was always something there. Something buried beneath the keep, in the most secure part of the fortress. Something true, something true that matters.
Walls that protect it also lock it away. We have so much insight, all locked away in different fortresses - and what is a prison but a fortress so strong that none may enter, and none may leave?
And why would you go to any effort whatsoever to protect the truth? The truth is the one thing that needs no protection. What can damage it? What can destroy it? What would ever have a hope of doing so?
Nothing. As far as damage goes at least, reality is beyond our reach.
The truth cannot be destroyed - but it can be buried, and in the world in which we live, it is. Split into a thousands parts and buried under a thousand fortresses, each one a prison for that truth it contains.
Time for a jailbreak?