More Fact and less Feeling in 2022, pleads Griselda Heppel

Aargh another new year dawns and goodness knows how it will go. For the first time in my life, when writing Christmas cards, I couldn’t bring myself to wish the recipients a Happy New Year, when the chances were that at least half their families would be isolating and that New Year would be cancelled anyway. All I could do was add fervent hopes that 2022 would prove a better year than 2021. Which, to be fair, covers a lot of possibilities. 

So here are my wishes for 2022: 

Covid vaccinations for all
Photo by FRANK MERIÑO from Pexels
1. Covid vaccinations offered to all, including young children. 

2. Anti vaxxers come to their senses. 
 
3. Kindness ceases to be Something People Talk About and becomes Something People Do.  
 
4. Truth resumes its rightful place in the cold, hard world of Facts, away from the warm, fuzzy one of Feelings where it has been corralled of late. 

1, 2 and 3 are self-explanatory. 4 plunges me (and you, dear reader) headlong into every fight about every controversial subject debated today, whether in the field of politics, philosophy, biology, human relations, the law, or even a question of agreeing what just happened. People don’t talk about getting to the truth anymore: they talk about ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’, as if truth is no longer an abstract certainty, but what each of us believes it to be. Which means there is no Truth at all. 

Of course, because we’re only human, the purest form of truth we strive for will always be muddied by our own perceptions and prejudices. But there’s a difference between people producing their version of the truth, and saying that IS the truth because they FEEL it to be, ie it’s ‘their’ truth. 

This rather nice Porsche may belong to my neighbour,
but actually I feel it's mine. Which is what counts.
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels
 A long time ago I spent some years as church warden for my local church, which involved attending several Parochial Church Council meetings a year. The PCC is formed of elected members of the congregation, and oversees the material, financial and administrative running of the church, as well as its liturgical, social and pastoral side. Our overriding concern during my tenure was the threatened loss of the church hall, since the 100-year lease was about to expire and the landlord was looking for something rather more than the peppercorn rent they had put up with till now. This came as a shock to many both inside and outside the church, who felt that the hall belonged to the community and that was that. When the umpteenth person told me that yes, well, the building may belong to the landlord, but all the local people feel it belongs to them, I began to lose patience. The rather nice Porsche next door may be my neighbour’s, I wanted to retort, but I see it every day and I feel it’s mine.

That was decades ago. And we succeeded in saving the church hall. But that attitude, that feelings are more important than facts, seems only to have spread more widely in our dealings with each other, and the vicious spats that pass for ‘debate’ on social media have added immensely to its power. It doesn’t matter what the facts of a case are, what a person actually said, how reasonably they made their argument; if the thought police feel that person is Wrong And Hateful, that person is Wrong And Hateful and must be cancelled. Rational judgement, in other words, has no place in justice or fairness anymore. Bullying rules, made all the more delicious by that absolute certainty on the part of the bullies that They Are The Good Guys.

Hamlet by Shakespeare. Is man still
'noble in reason'?
Or just a piece of work?

‘What a piece of work is a man!’ Shakespeare has Hamlet say. ‘How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty!’ 

Strong stuff… but what does it even mean nowadays, when reason is no longer seen as noble? 

 Enough gloom – Happy New Year, all!





OUT NOW 
FINALIST in the Page Turner Awards 2021 
by Griselda Heppel, author of 

Comments

I couldn't agree more with your comments on reason vs feelings.
Peter Leyland said…
What is truth? What an interesting issue to raise Griselda which might have the pens of the philosophers scratching away until the year dot. As you know I have been studying literary Africa this year. Desmond Tutu has just died and has been praised for his work with the Truth and Reconciliation commission, but not everyone in South Africa saw his truth as theirs. Your post made me think about the Holocaust and how some people still deny it ever happened despite the mountains of evidence, just as the evidence for the benefits of vaccination is overwhelming to most of us.

Our courts of law, although fallible, look for evidence to decide whether something is true or not and I don't think our judges are enemies of the people as some would have us believe. I would argue that great literature also can serve an important function in relation to truth as I recently found in Galgut's The Promise...

Better stop or I'll be going on to 'the year dot'. Happy New Year.


Griselda Heppel said…
Thank you both. Desmond Tutu is very relevant here as a man unafraid to stand up for what he believed - including speaking out against homophobia which takes great courage in a very traditional society. I’m not against judges at all, on the contrary, I’m against the ‘woke’ laws that forces them to refer to a man accused of rape as female. https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/01/22/why-are-we-protecting-the-feelings-of-rapists/amp/ It’s not clear yet whether the victim will also be forced by law to do the same ie to lie under oath. Which makes a nonsense of the justice system and will muddle the jury no end as no one will know who is being referred to. Why would women ever seek justice again?

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