2018 – Most Philosophical 5th Grader in America
Bernadette Spear, Pennsylvania.
Truth is independent of humans. It simply IS, whether or not we want it to be, whereas deceit is a function of human choice. Falsehoods are only introduced through a human’s decision to lie about something that will remain true despite the veneer of the lie. Honesty also is a function of human choice, but the truth will continue to exist regardless of what any individual human tries to do with it. Truth ultimately has a greater impact on society than deceit, because the truth doesn’t change, whereas lies come and go.
Throughout history, many people have chosen to fight for the truth because they can see through the lies that attempt to obscure it. For example, Dorothea Dix lived at a time when the mentally ill were being put in prisons. She saw that they were not criminals and that prisons were not going to provide the treatment that they needed. Although she knew she would be ridiculed for her work, she still fought for the rights of the mentally ill and tried to help establish appropriate treatment facilities. She fought for the truth and managed to change many people’s minds and have a great impact on society.
In 1848, Lucretia Mott organized the first meeting for women’s rights in America. More than 100 women were present, and this turnout shocked the public. Mott and the other women challenged those assumptions and pointed the way toward a more universal truth about the rights of women. Even though she did not live to see women vote, she was a major early force in the suffrage movement. The treatment of women at her time relied on falsehoods about women’s capabilities, but she saw through to the truth and encouraged many others to do the same, so that ultimately many laws and attitudes about women did change.
Sojourner Truth fought for both women’s rights and African Americans’ rights. When she was liberated in 1827, she immediately began to speak publicly in support of abolition and women’s rights. She was a very persuasive speaker, but even so, her skin color led some white women to discriminate against her even though she supported (and shared) their cause. In 1851, she attended a women’s convention in Ohio. Her speech there was so powerful that it turned the tide in favor of minority rights. Her words slashed right through the perversions of Scripture and other lies that underpinned the common notion of the inferiority of women and African Americans. Her insights directed people’s attention to truths about human rights.
Truth, Mott, and Dix saw that the attitudes about and treatment of African Americans, women, and the mentally ill were cultural conventions that perpetuated falsehoods and were not rooted in truth. Such conventions are established by repeated human choice, not truths about human rights and dignity. Sojourner Truth put it best when she stated: “Truth is powerful and it prevails.”
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