There is an expression that is often attributed to Herodotus which states, “There are two things about which men should never worry: that which is in their control and that which is beyond it”. To put this to the test, consider one man who believes in universal and absolute truths whilst another man believes that all truth is subjective. Assuming that each man sincerely believes in what he says, there is no reason for them to ever argue about these matters and even less of a reason to seek public approval from others.
If truth is universal, nothing anyone says or does will be able to change this. Instead, those who accept the truth will find themselves embracing reality whilst those in denial will eventually find themselves in matters of difficulty. As for the man who thinks that all truth is subjective, if this is the case, it makes little logical sense as to why such an individual would care that in someone else’s subjective version of the truth, he is deemed to be unworthy of praise. If one has the right to one’s own subjective truth, surely others have the right to their uniquely subjective version of the truth.
In general it is those without a genuine belief in their own worldview (whether allegedly universal or allegedly subjective) who lust after being taken seriously by the wider public and by social elites in particular. In such circumstances, the more desperately one lacks confidence in one’s own beliefs and abilities, the more violent one becomes in one’s lust for public approval.
And yet if one were to be objective, there is no reason that one ought to yearn to be taken seriously by others. If one’s vocation is to produce a product, value is derived from the quality of the product rather than by the personal characteristics of the product’s marker. If one sells one’s labour, it is the final outcome of the act of labour rather than the processes which comprise the act that add value to the world.
Therefore, in social and political commentary, why should one yearn to be taken seriously unless one unconsciously believes that what one is saying will not be accepted as truthful when examined at face value? The answer lies in the fact that fools tend to attract fools. As such, those who believe something to be true because of who says it rather than due to what is being said will naturally seek positions of high social status owing to the moronically false calculation that this will add actual veracity to one’s statements and add value to one’s actions.
Because mathematics is the realm in which truth is most clearly derived, one can consider the following example which can be applied to all other situations. If a peasant proclaims 1+1=2 whilst a prince proclaims that 1+1=3, who is correct? The answer is that the peasant happens to be correct in this instance.
But just as was the case in the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, there might be some people willing to defy reality and proclaim that the prince is correct in his untruthful mathematical equation in the hopes of attaining some social advantage.
This is why those who wish to be taken seriously are not only foolish but dangerous. Just as those who lied to the naked Emperor by telling him that he was wearing fine garments perpetuated dishonesty in the name of personal avarice, so too are those who court prestige at the expense of speaking from a position of honesty helping to perpetuate a social phenomenon in which the truth is shunned unless it happens to be told by one with a particular social status.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, the old guard of social elites are not responsible for this moral crisis. Those who are responsible are greedy middling types whose lust for social advancement leads them not only to abandon logic in the name of avarice but likewise leads such people to needlessly scoff at those with no desire to be taken seriously.
The true wise people – the proverbial philosopher kings and queens of the contemporary world do not wish to be taken seriously and many might even find it comforting to not be taken seriously as it allows one more time for personal pursuits of luxury. The latter day philosopher kings and queens are content with being contented and that which makes them contended is simply adding value to society through their free speech which can then by judged on its merits rather than on the basis of the personal characteristics of the person who made the statement in question.
Therefore, when one encounters people, nations and cultures that seek to be taken seriously at all costs, one ought to remember that such people, nations and cultures are vulgar, petty, ultimately deceptive and entirely unworthy of the word civilisation.