Thu, May 03, 2012 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Handling the ‘truth’

I was stopped in the street yesterday by two young Mormon gentlemen who wished to enlighten me about life. They gave me the predictable rhetoric, which we have all heard before, upon which I asked them how they knew what they were saying was true.

The reply: “God talks to me.”

This might seem innocent enough until you look at things from a broader perspective.

We all think we are individuals making personal choices based on good sense, but the patterns that show up as a result of behavior in every culture and society give a very different picture. Statistically, more than 90 percent of Mormons have Mormon parents, so it’s actually your parents’ behavior that talks to you. You can argue all you like, but perspective sees repeated behavior as a common theme across the globe.

If people really made good, reasoned choices about what they choose to believe, they would look at history and see which religions have the best record of infusing qualities into people that we can all admire. Unfortunately, Christianity and Islam don’t score very highly in the history books, or indeed at present, as current wars reflect.

Would it not be more useful to send young people here to try and learn something from a much more successful religious culture, rather than trying to tell others how it should be done?

Western culture can be very arrogant and blind at times. Everybody “feels” that they are right, but the absence of disciplined thought leads to tragedy. People are easily tricked into believing that strength of belief is a true measure of its meaning and truth.

To hang a young man in front of his mother requires 100 percent belief that what you are doing is good and true.

These are the final words of the last person, Thomas Aikenhead, hanged in England for blasphemy: “It is a principle innate and co-natural to every man to have an insatiable inclination to the truth, and to seek for it as hidden treasure ... So I proceeded until the more I thought thereon, the further I was from finding the verity I desired.”

You cannot blame the men who hanged him, their truth was absolute, but unique — we can learn to look at ourselves, to see what patterns we unknowingly conform to.

How sad, I thought, that the two young men on the street had the gift of choice removed from them by an arranged marriage of the mind. How sad that they would go home from Taiwan thinking all these people are just wrong and only they knew the truth.

My final question to them was: Who would you trust more, somebody who says “I know I am right” or somebody who says “I know I am wrong”?

At this point, they shook my hand, looked at me in silence and cycled off, leaving me to look for truth I could share with all my fellow men, not just the ones born in the right place.

Peter Cook

Greater Taichung

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