Asheville seems to think itself the kind of place that believes it polite to say that we should all just agree. Agree that everyone’s ideas are equally valid. That no one’s thoughts or beliefs have an edge over anyone else’s — that no one view on truth is the “right” one. It’s only fair, right? All else might feel “oppressive.” How else could we live peaceably in a pluralistic society? It would feel un-American to say otherwise.
And yet, at the same time, we act in complete contradiction to this almost endlessly. As though magically, we have the “right” to be indignant. That certain views and ideas are “right,” and some are “wrong.” Not just that we are just merely discontent with such opposing views; but that they are morally and ethically wrong and therefore bad for society.
“We have an obligation,” we say. “We must fight against the dying of the light and snuff out all who say otherwise. Unite against the evils of white privilege, patriarchy and cisgendered norms!” And then, after a moment of not-so-mild self-satisfaction, we sit back and marvel in a moment of pure bewilderment at the contentious state in which we find our society.
There is a kind of ignorance that engenders more ignorance. There is kind of “enlightenment” that only seems to bring darkness to the public discourse. It’s this specific kind of “tolerance” that kills the discourse that is needed now more than ever. If you’re wondering why you keep fighting the good fight, and no one seems to be listening to you except for those with whom you already agree, it’s because of this simple reason: That there can be no justice where there is no truth.
We can’t say as a society that truth doesn’t really exist in a universal sense — and then decry universal injustice. You don’t get to do that. If we want to fight the good fight against injustice, we are going to have to start by admitting the obvious: that we believe in this inescapable and infuriating thing called Truth. Nothing lasting or truly good will come out of all this talk until we do.
— Ryan Russell