With societal turbulence all around us, many people feel that we are locked in some great and portentous struggle. But because it is so pervasive and multifaced, the nature of this struggle is not readily obvious. There are many fronts on which this struggle is being fought: racial relations, education, healthcare, popular culture, financial system, and freedom of speech, among others. It is not easy to make sense of it all, especially since the battles are highly pitched and emotions are running very high.
What characterizes these battles, besides their intensity, is deep polarization. The possibility of the warring camps coming together and meeting on some common ground seems to be growing more distant by the day. There is even talk that the two sides will either come to blows, or they will each go their own way in some form of secession.
Many have observed that the contenders seem to be separated by an unbridgeable gap, and yet no one has been able to explain the nature of this gap, or what exactly it is that separates the mindsets of the opposing sides.
In our view the great struggle in the grip of which we find ourselves cuts much deeper than the immediate issues we argue over. The real fight extends beyond any particular point of public friction.
The great battle of our time is a battle about the very nature of reality. More precisely, what the two sides war over on the most fundamental level is what constitutes truth and how it should be determined.
To shed light on this dynamic, let us take one of the heated controversies of the present time. For this we choose transgenderism. This is an especially suitable example for two reasons: this issue is highly divisive and polarizing, and it delineates the opposing camps sharply and clearly.
As you may know, transgender advocates claim that biological males can become women and vice versa.
Understandably, many people find this claim rather far-fetched. For one thing, it does not feel true, given that the evidence of our senses seems to refute it. When, for example, people look at transgender “women” – i.e., biological men who say that they are women – most people immediately recognize that these are not real females. What most people see is men who pretend to be girls. This is how the human mind – in the vast majority of instances – interprets sensory input that it receives upon encountering such persons.
And yet transgender advocates vehemently maintain that this is not the correct interpretation of visual data. They insist that what is in front of our eyes are not men who pose as girls but real girls.
The claims of transgender advocates thus run in direct contravention to what we perceive to be the case with our own eyes.
In other words, transgender supporters attempt to negate and override our perception of reality. They are in essence telling us this: “Reject the evidence of your eyes. What is in front of you is not a man who tries to appear as a woman, but a genuine woman.”
And they often insist on this point with great vehemence. So vehemently, in fact, that they want to punish and penalize those who dare to say otherwise. They call such people transphobes, among other things, and have them cancelled and fired from their jobs. They also charge them with the offence of misgendering, which has now become a crime in some places.
To put it another way, it is now becoming a crime to honestly declare reality as it is presented to us by our sensory apparatus.
But can it be possible that the senses may deceive us in some way? After all, sometimes our senses do paint an inaccurate picture of the world. For example, when we put a stick in water, the stick appears to be bent at the point where it touches the water’s surface.