I recently was reminded of why I try as much as I can to avoid speaking my political opinions on Facebook. My Congressman, Chris Stewart, UT-2 (REP), had just posted about having voted on a bill to repeal the “death tax” or more properly known as the Estate Tax. When I saw the post, I was astonished at the majority of the comments being quite inflammatory against the Mr. Stewart and his position. The crux of much of what people complained about was that they felt the Estate Tax only affects the wealthy and why should we reduce revenue to the government to benefit those at the top. Granted, I am anesthetizing the tone and character of their wording.
So, I responded by questioning how eliminating the tax on grieving families who have just lost their loved one would hurt them as an average person. Woah! Boy, was I pounded with responses. The only one I felt had any validity, however was one person citing over $200 billion in 10 years that would be lost in revenue. I responded again with the question: why should their be preferred classes in the law? Shouldn’t we all be treated equally under the law? Just because someone was born to parents who succeeded financially and left them an inheritance, why should they have to pay a confiscatory tax on things that have already been taxed during the life of their parent? Finally, one person responded saying I was completely wrong about reality.
That comment stuck with me. Not that I suddenly changed my mind, but instead, I was made to think about the nature of reality.
We each experience “reality” through our senses and then interpret it with our minds. Every person perceives reality in their own way because no two people have the same mind or the same eyes or the same ears. Thus, everyone has a slightly different view. What is reality to one person may not be reality to another.
For each of us, we exist in our own little social network. We have our family, our neighborhood, our church or other organization, our workplace, and our online community. In each of these places, we tend to migrate towards being around people we are similar to. The result is, we all become very convinced that “everyone” thinks like us. And then we say something controversial that we didn’t even think was controversial. Then, our perception of reality is burst and we are confronted with a new reality: there are others not like us.
But does this controversy and differing perceptions of reality mean that there is no central truth or reality? Does that mean each person’s perception can, will, and must lead them to their own philosophical belief system, even, their own set of morals?
No! There are some truths, as Jefferson put it, that are “self-evident”. One truth, for example, is that the sun appears in the sky and warms our world. We see it and feel it. We know it is true. And we all know that it is true. Jefferson declared “all men are created equal”. Yet, throughout the world, that self-evident truth seems to be unknown by too many people. Many don’t even believe in creation, thus the very foundation of the statement and the following claim of we being endowed with the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is but naught.
Reality is a strange thing. Our perception of reality is dependent, and shaped by our belief system that biases how we interpret that “reality.” Thus, without a common belief system, then there is no common reality.
Chew on that thought . . .