Of the truths housed within the American heart are these words embraced by the Signers of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That these words are a fact of the declaration is a truth. It is not an opinion.
In keeping with this sentiment for this Fourth of July, please shake the glitter off your American flag. In other words, for a day set aside the easy opinions on patriotism which, like glitter, can serve as gaudy adornments and lack the solemnity which a unanimous excellence – aka Truth – demands.
Let us, shall we, look past the fireworks and the gauzy opinions of the social media kind – the glitter – and this July 4th peer deep into the unsullied fabric of American democracy.
As any parent knows, glitter, like an opinion, is easily thrown around.
Moreover, the mutual enduring quality of both is the way they embed a lifeless distraction in whatever they touch. In doing so, these sparkling adornments distract from – and cheapen – the things they were meant to enhance.
Moreover, the opinionated noise of “partisan patriotism” has sprinkled into everything over the past several years. For example, the basic truth involving the pandemic and the efficacy of mask wearing and vaccinations (and the unprecedented deaths of 600,000 Americans) has been infested by blathered opinions.
It may be argued that opinions increasingly guide human behaviors – while knowledge is increasingly buried in a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data. Truth itself has often been merely used. Used as an adornment sprinkled into language. Used only for its ability to influence. In other words, truth is not valued for its own sake. Instead, truth is used – as propaganda.
The cynical mixing of opportunistic opinions with sprinklings of truth is a danger and risk to democracy.
In the hands of a skilled speaker this two-faced rhetoric, notes American philosopher David Roochnik is “like magic…capable of insinuating itself into the human heart and working its will from afar.”
This July 4th shake the glitter out of the flag, so to speak, by giving less attention to social media, news talking heads, and conspiracy theories. Instead, look deeper into democracy by seeking out the facts on people and events shaping Eden Prairie by subscribing to the Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN).
Like a persistent echo of the Signers, the principles – truth, fairness, equality, and the like – held to by a group of individuals who’ve lifted Eden Prairie’s local news out of the ashes, takes the form of factual reporting in service to hyperlocal knowledge.
This reporting, we assert, helps people make sense of the world based on facts, not opinions. In turn, this promotes the ‘common good’ (not the common conspiracy) by enabling individuals to coherently pursue their highest ideal expression of self within the community. EPLN’s ‘gift’ to Eden Prairie is to uplift the factual, and therefore justified true beliefs of the community. Its history, current rhythms, many voices, and future. We call this the Story of Us.
True courage, said Socrates, is an “endurance of the soul” combining the knowledge of the good hoped for and the evil feared, in situations containing risk to oneself. As in Adam and Eve in Genesis 2-3 eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the opinion of good and evil. As Adam and Eve may have been said to have learned, at their most useful, opinions signal a starting point on a journey to knowledge, not the end point of knowledge.
The personal risk and courage required to stomp a foot and blithely assert “it’s an opinion!” are minimal – mere glitter in the air. By contrast, the Signers used dialogue to formulate an enduring gift – a national Story of Us based on principles, facts, and truth.
With that in mind, this July 4th you are asked to consider pursuing the courage of principle, facts, and dialogue more. Glittery opinions less. You are asked to declare your pursuit of something deeper than opinion – knowledge – here in Eden Prairie.
We ask that you, as the Signers did 245 year ago, believe and participate in dialogue and testing beliefs with facts until they are justified. Until dialogues reveal beliefs and such things as “these Truths to be self-evident…” as the Signers did by courageously pledging their names and their lives.
Shake out the flag and join EPLN’s pursuit of truth-based knowledge. Help ensure a coherent common good in support of fulsome lives here in Eden Prairie.