What is Woke?

What is Woke? Recently someone asked on social media, “what is woke”? The question was followed up with, “I mean, is it a bad thing? Why are people not understanding the importance of being woke?” Interestingly, many individuals see woke as a higher understanding of progressive ideas, an ability to be more “aware” and intellectually superior. In an effort to better understand this perspective I set out to explore the origins of “woke” ideology. One perspective in particular, compared the Age of Enlightenment (1685), and, the Renaissance (15th and 16th Centuries) with Galileo’s famous “gravity” experiments as an example of woke. I would like to point out that Galileo (1564-1642) indeed, validated Copernicus’s heliocentric orientation hypothesis (1543) where the planets revolve round the sun. And, this observation posed a serious threat to the current religious paradigm. It marked the beginning of modernity—atomism, elemental reductionism—this was science, and it shook the foundations of organized religion. The chain of events that followed (the Inquisition, as example) failed miserably (Kuhn, 2010). The church at that time called for censorship, index, and inquisition instead of seeking the Truth. The difference between Galileo’s scientific paradigm shift and socially constructed woke ideology is that woke is not science. Woke is actually similar to a kind of pseudo religion where ideological beliefs and feelings are valued more than apodictic (absolute, irrefutable) Truth. What is truth, you might ask? Woke culture focuses on identity from the perspectives of politics, psychology and sex, through the lens of social constructivism and expressive individualism, that is, “you can be anything you want to be.” Accordingly, “the contemporary political scene is dominated by the issues of identity politics where the belief in human authenticity are found in the freeing of oneself from religion and the traditional nuclear family and it’s moral/ethical values which inhibit “free agency” and a return to the natural self” (Truman, 2020). Thus, the idea of the “modern self” clearly finds their roots in the intellectual developments that took place in the eighteenth and nineteen centuries where oppression of feeling became a psychological category. This political, emotional and sexual psychological idea of selfhood is not new. It was first introduced by secular atheists including, Rousseau, Descartes, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud. This represented a reversal of perspectives from an outside-in (man created in the image of God) to a inside-out (man is god) human psychology. Coupled with the rise of the modern self is the idea of sexual freedom with its focus on expressing authentic natural human feelings. And, this pits woke ideology against traditional family values, marriage and institutional Christianity (Truman, p. 201).

What is woke? Woke therefore, is an ideological social construct and not science. Social science, on the other hand, stands up to repeated evidence-based rigor. This is called construct validity. Social constructs do not meet the criteria of the scientific method. True social science such as Solomon Ash’s “conformity theory”; Albert Bandura’s “Social Learning Theory” on aggression through observation; Muzafer Sherif’s “robber’s cave experiments on compliance and competition”, and the brilliant Gestalt psychologists social experiments on “perception, functional fixedness and group think” and finally, cognitive learning theory (Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, and Lev Vygotsky) are all evidence-based. All these studies are valid and replicable social science. Again, woke is not a social science.

How absolutely arrogant and absurd it is to proclaim that woke people are more aware. Awareness, after all has to do with “consciousness”; the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. It is important to understand oneself in relation with others. This is especially valuable in a multicultural environs where people share common values but embrace different worldwiews. And this kind of awareness (consciousness) is social science (Ornstein,1991). Wokeness hijacks science and truth and replaces it with ideological, socially constructed unreality. This is hardly awareness, it is unawareness. In other words, woke people don’t know what they don’t know. In addition, consciousness is closely associated with “conscience”; an inner feeling or voice acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior. This implies that there is an innate awareness of goodness and evil, rightness and wrongness. Of course, these common-core, innate human values interfere with the woke narrative, “there are no absolute truths”. There can’t be truth if one is socially constructing their own reality. And this is why so many informed and educated parents are concerned about the indoctrination of woke ideology on youth within the education system, where traditional value systems are deconstructed and replaced with socially constructed unreality such as, relational anarchy, Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies and Critical Race Theory (CRT). As example, there is the “woke” argument that there are more genders than just biological binary male and female as is evidenced by DNA and genetics(1). For instance, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson could not respond to the question, “what is a woman?” This is woke politics and now represented in the Supreme Court.

The greatest lie that woke advocates tell children is that, “you can be anything you want to be”. This is a recipe for self-condemnation and depression. We all have strengths and limitations. But believing this one lie creates a culture of entitled narcissists which eventually leads toward learned helplessness, despair and nihilism (Miller & Seligman, 1975). In a prior post I shared my personal experience and understanding of critical race theory (CRT) and gender identity. What I have observed is either/or group think, division, separation and what amounts to racism and liberal privilege. The woke cancel culture suppress and censer valid alternative research perspectives and the researchers who challenge woke assumptions. This merely exacerbates, either/or binary thinking. Shouting down reason and debate is in every way, fear-based censorship which confirms my point about woke being more like the 15th century religious institutions mentioned in the first paragraph. But, there is some good news.

There is hope! Woke culture is not new. And while it finds its roots in the enlightenment period, woke is just another fad(2) and not a paradigm shift. There are still a few very good universities that teach critical thinking such as the Acton Institute and Colorado Christian University (CCU) and education/leadership institutions that bring together people from all cultures and worldview and debate and discuss the values of a free and virtuous society. A virtuous society is an emotionally and spiritually healthy society, one that is blessed with economic prosperity. Are you interested in becoming a lifelong learner and with a humble heart, willing to seek the truth? Please view the video presentation (below) and respond to this blog post sharing a heartfelt, thoughtful and edifying post.

Kuhn, T. S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions. (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ornstein, R. (1991). Evolution of consciousness: The origins of the way we think. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Miller, W. R., & Seligman, M. E. (1975). Depression and learned helplessness in man. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84(3), 228–238. 

Truman, C. R. (2020). The rise and triumph of the modern self: Cultural amnesia, expressive individualism, and the road to sexual revolution. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway

(1). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) gender refers to characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed and include actual or perceived sex, gender identity, and gender expression including a person’s actual or perceived gender-related self-image, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person.

(2). Fads have short lifespans while trends have true staying power. Whereas fads are discovered by influencers, receive mainstream adoption (usually after intense media coverage) and then die off, trends take much longer to be cultivated. Once embraced, trends put down cultural roots and grow stronger.

Truth & Grace: Learning How to Learn

“Who Knows Only His Own Generation Remains Always a Child.”

This very interesting and relevant quote by Dr. George Norlin, former president of the University of Colorado, is inscribed over the west entrance of the University’s library where I spent hundreds of hours deep in the library stacks studying late into the night. I have learned to navigate the depths of that library in the dark and with my eyes closed.  But when it came to learning and understanding truth, my eyes were then, as they are now, wide open.  Learners ask questions and challenge assumptions. Learners have a desire to understand alternative perspectives and become knowledgeable with both sides or perspectives of ideas and so called facts. One must understand another’s perspective to have a civil conversation let alone formidable debate.   Why do so many college students today simply reciting the boring one-sided opinions and lectures their professors pedantically preach to them? What ever happened to critical thinking, epistemology and disciplined inquiry?  What about the merits of considering alternative perspectives while seeking the truth?  What is truth and how do we know what we know?

Recently, astronaut Scott Kelly posted a Tweet paraphrasing Winston Churchill. Below is the entire quote in context;

“In War: Resolution,
In Defeat: Defiance,
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will.”

Kelly was attacked by some who considered the quote offensive.  So, Kelly back peddles and apologizes. He says something to the effect, “I need to get educated”.  Which brings me to the topic of this blog post, truth, grace and learning how to learn.   While I find nothing offensive with this quote, I am actually inspired by it, I am trying to understand how it might be offensive to some people? That’s an honest question. You see, I believe, words matter. However, there’s no question the truth can bite.  That is perhaps one reason why some people hide behind the safety of “political correctness” and postmodern relativism. It allows one to be wrong and still be right.  We are experiencing a division in perception of reality. Fortunately, truth and grace are interconnected, you can’t have one without the other.  What Kelly was responding to is the “pressure to conform” narrative, not truth and grace.  The political correct narrative, I believe, is part of the social constructivist agenda to rewrite history, not correct it nor to seek the truth. “Who knows only his own generation remaining always a child.”

If we lose the truth about our history, we lose our liberty. It is happening now at universities across America. Political correctness has crushed the spirit of truth and free speech.  This is why the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was so important to the Founders, it was first and foremost.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Why do so many people think history needs revision?  Perhaps it is because, for hundreds of years, churches and universities were the center of the community.  These were the places people gathered, church steeples marked the city centers. This is where people interacted with each other, learned from each other, shared stories and exchanged ideas, knowledge, goods and services in free markets. The city center or, market square were the very places truth and grace intersected as expressed through the First Amendment.  This idea, no longer fits with the current spirit of the time (zeitgeist).  Yes, there is a dark history of slavery. And slaveholding is a sin. Yet, many people falsely see religion as the source of legalism, bigotry and scientific ignorance. However, many more people, like me and perhaps you too, believe that faith in God expressly and implicitly guarantees individual liberty, justice and love. It is the very bases for social justice, human rights, democracy and equality; Jefferson referenced the Jewish and Christian God who made us free–“self evident”, he proclaimed as reflected in the Declaration of Independence. The Founders regarded religion as the duty of the independent and free individual to seek. The constitution assure this as an inalienable right and not a privilege to be tolerated. There’s a big difference.

Learning requires we enter a place I call the “epistemic gap”.  This is a place between the known and unknown, the natural and supernatural.  Stepping into the epistemic gap takes courage because it is more about learning than knowing. Cultivating a learning spirit requires humility.  We acknowledge the sins of our past and present and ask for redemption. Part of this “epistemic” journey involves understanding self in relation with God and His creations.  Thank God, we don’t all think alike.  This is a gift, not a curse.

Grace and truth’s perfect union can be cultivated in a community of diverse experiences and worldviews.  Truth and grace are integral and cannot be truly understood or experienced as an either/or concept.  Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness and legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception and moral compromise. The key to true intellectual and spiritual growth is to integrate these two qualities into life and learn how to learn all over again.

This is an honest question; how is the above quote offensive?  What are your thoughts?

What is Truth?

Hello! Part of the purpose of the TruthBites blog is to understand and respect various worldviews within the context of our daily lives, the workplace, broader community and integration of faith, family and freedom.  We will explore the intersection between the known and unknown, natural and supernatural, the clash of worldviews and common-core values all cultures share in common.  So, diverse perspectives are welcome here.  Please demonstrate civility, dignity  and respect in your posts. Please join me in this journey of joint exploration–understanding self in relation with God and each other.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV).

Is there an overarching truth in this universe, or no truth that is absolute and irrefutably reliable?   Is truth relative? Is your truth different from my truth?  Do we really socially construct our own reality? What do you believe?

Words carry power. Words can edify, inspire and affirm. And words can also crush spirits, cause anguish, stir conflict and sow seeds of discord. One’s choice of words can therefore be a double edged sword. According to Calvan Exoo (2010, p. xvii), “those who own or control society’s ‘idea factories’ including mass media can use [words] to impose their own ideas on others.” This is the idea behind the social constructivist movement in education. As such, academics have used words to socially construct reality rather than pursue the truth. Students are taught what to think instead of how to think. It is unfortunately but in this current postmodern “moral relative” corporeality (meaning, of the body and not the spirit), words have little meaning when not connected with values or recognized apodictic (absolute) truths. However, words can also edify and educate producing emotionally and spiritually healthy interactions within and between groups (Scazzero 2012). Nevertheless, words are often used to distort the truth (Phillips & Gully, 2014). This tradition goes back long before the Chinese warrior/philosopher Sun Tzu illuminated the tribulations of the “bearer of bad news” or Machiavelli’s cruel and narcissistic analysis of politics and power (Sun Tzu, 2012; Machiavelli, 2011). The infamous line in a Few Good Men, “you can’t handle the truth,” rings true. In light of the current divisiveness in this country, why does the truth matter?