Consider the First Amendment to our Constitution, a document designed in opposition to tyranny.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What does that amendment do? The first thing it does is to prohibit Congress from imposing beliefs — so-called truths — upon the People. The second thing it does is to prohibit Congress from interfering when the People seek to share their beliefs with each other and their leaders.
What is the object of propaganda? Propagandists desire to spread a belief or an ideology. To some extent we all propagandize each other when we share our beliefs. So there is nothing necessarily wrong with propaganda. However, there is a problem when we tell others untruths, especially when we do so deliberately. We can become tyrannical when we believe a lie, especially the lie that we have the right to impose our own beliefs, especially untruths, upon others. Then we embrace tyranny, the tyranny of “bad people”, of course.
Where does the temptation to tyrannize others come from? All of us wish to believe we know the TRUTH, that ours is the CORRECT viewpoint. In our pride, we too often overlook the obvious. The universe is infinite. We are finite. Only our Creator, God, knows the TRUTH. To gain accurate knowledge of the TRUTH, we must know God.
Deuteronomy 32:4 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.
So what then is the point of blogging, especially about politics and religion. When I write about my viewpoint, what can I say about the TRUTH? I am not God. In fact, that is one reason it is not that easy to persuade others of the TRUTH. We may not accept our own limitations, but we seem to be quite happy to accept someone else’s limitations. Thus, when we propagandize others, all we can do is demonstrate we have thought about a topic and arrived at our own sincerely held beliefs. We cannot necessarily convince another person that what makes sense to “me” should also make sense to them. In fact, the Bible says as much.
1 John 4:6 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Given our limitations, wisdom suggests we should refrain from forcing others to adopt our practices, especially our beliefs, unless we have a dire need. We should not punish others for their beliefs just because we can. Unfortunately, many people would do exactly that. Why? Factional politics are the way of the world. To stop would-be tyrants — to stop ourselves — the founders created a constitutional republic. Consider THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY.
Note that I intend to write a sequel to this post. The subject? A very successful bit of propaganda. Please stay tuned.