“Is a slave a slave if he doesn’t know he’s enslaved?”
“Oh, I was hoping for a philosophical debate. Is that all I’m going to get, ‘Yes?'”
– The Editor & the Doctor, Doctor Who
Series 1, Episode 7, “The Long Game”
This episode features an all-too-real “satire” of the news media being used by humanity’s rulers to keep them under control. As the Editor says, a word or phrase repeated often enough can influence everything from economies to borders to votes. They think they’re making their own decisions based on what’s real, but they’ve been lied to, manipulated, and quietly enslaved without them ever realizing it. When confronted with that last, the Editor says that’s an interesting point, and we get this brief but pointed exchange.
I will be the first to advocate for reasonable, rational discussion. I believe that knowing truth is not the same as understanding it, and without understanding truth, our knowledge of it can crumble and decay. However, there comes a point where a clear and simple line must be drawn because discussion is pointless, especially when faced with someone who doesn’t care about the truth at all. Not only can you not change them, but it can become counter-productive, as the poison of broken, evil rationale is allowed into our minds. The quest for understanding gets turned back on itself in confusion.
To have an open mind is usually good. But a mind that is too open is easily manipulated, easily clouded and filled with half-truths, lies, and rationalizations, easily broken and twisted, before it ends up shut and impossible to persuade again with genuine reason.
One must be open to change, but also firm in retaining what truths one already knows. As per usual, it is a question of balance.
There are many questions which people ask hoping for a philosophical debate, and even more which they ask in the hopes of propagandizing their choices. Sometimes, though it runs counter to many of our urges and much of what we may have been taught, it is simply best to give the clear and simple answer, and end the discussion there.
In a world filled with madness and lies that have the barest sprinkling of truth and logic within them, sometimes it is best to hold true to the simple answers and not give an inch.
It is not easy to simply stand there and take the veritable storm of verbiage that gets thrown at us with such fury, but the truth is the truth, and it is not always complicated.