Out There

truth (Truth?) and consequences

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 23, 2008

These days I keep running into situations where people are arguing about truth.  What floors me is the extent to which people see Truth (capitalized intentionally) as whatever protects their security, their position, their past, or whatever.  There are a few controversial mines being planned in Alaska, most prominently Pebble (probably the largest find in the world in terms of size and the value of the resource) and more relevant to the Kuskokwim, Donlin Creek.  The environmentalists (and lodge owners) have mobilized and forged alliances with villagers who are rightly concerned about future fish runs.  Mining and resource extraction advocates have lined up on the other side.  Both sides claim Truth on their side, that the waters WILL be poisoned, the fish WILL be devastated, the people’s way of life WILL be irrevocably altered for the worse.  Or that the mine will do NO HARM and will only pour economic benefits into the area.  Isn’t this a little silly?  I’m a fairly young man but these arguments seem paper thin and childish to me.  Isn’t the truth likely somewhere in the middle?  I’m not into relativism, I do believe in Truth, but it is not to be found on either side of these type of debates.

How about the state of Alaska filing suit to challenge the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species (see story here)?  Come on.  Everyone freely admits its not about the bear but about the potential impacts to oil and gas revenue for the state.   Given the projections by the vast majority of the scientific community, even the Bush administration, which delayed the ruling for…ev…er had no choice but to say it’s threatened, even as they tried to water down what that meant as much as possible.  Can we be honest and change the argument to “We think our economy is more important than the bears who seem to be doing ok for now?”  To quote the piano man:  “Honesty…is such a lonely word…”  That argument might not fly legally, but it would have much more appeal and would really get to the heart of the issue instead of clinging to some BS underpinnings.  I’m not addressing that argument, by the way one way or the other.  I just get so disgusted with how people use truth so conveniently for whatever position enriches themselves.

This came to a head with me on a more personal level when I was part of a Regulatory Commission of Alaska workgroup on net metering and whether the RCA should mandate some adoption of net metering policies by Alaska utilities.  It was another issue of opposite sides claiming different facts and waving the banner of Truth on their side, and it was frankly just a little depressing and annoying, and after I reflected for a while it seems a little scandalous.  I kept trying to get in the middle, and noone would join me.  I sent studies which supported a particular position, and the opposing side would argue against the conclusions of the studies in a way that only revealed they hadn’t read them (which they later admitted to me in writing).  Is integrity dead?  Is honest dialogue, and a willingness to examine another’s perspective and even (gasp!) admit you’re wrong, is that dead?  In Alaska politics, if it isn’t dead it’s on life support.

I haven’t even mentioned the political parties.  If you read a story in the Anchorage paper, and read the reader comments that follow, comment after comment foolishly blasts the political party they don’t belong to and blame them for a host of problems.  I won’t go into the national stuff, which is just more of the same.  I’m starting to lose focus and wander here so I’ll stop.

In conclusion, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, and my reaction only exposes my youth and naivety.  In my world view, the problem is sin, and people living for themselves and not for Christ and their neighbors.  But seeing the product of sin on such a global and official scale still kind of knocks my socks off.  In some silly way I think I assume that people making decisions affecting thousands and millions of people would somehow be less self-serving than myself and the ‘normal’ people I’m around all the time.  But the older I get the more examples I see of those in power abusing their position (yeah, that’s me – LOL).  It’s sad.

I hope to add a specific post about the net metering thing later, and maybe one about a former principal here sabotaging his own school (how’s that for a tease?), if I ever have the time.  I’m such a busy kassaq these days–yuck.

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