Did Stormy Daniels tell the truth in her interview with Anderson Cooper on CBS’s 60 Minutes? This is the question that has occupied the thoughts of the millions of persons (including yours truly) who watched the show that night. As I began writing this my eye caught a New York Times story about a special election in Arizona that is dominated by whether or not voters believe Stormy Daniels. Many democrats believe her, conservatives doubt her. It seems we are all having to ask that question about so many of the social and political discussions of the day. Consider the fact the editors of the Oxford Dictionary chose the term, “post-truth” as their 2016 Word of the Year. One is then forced to ask the question, is the postmodern era the era of post truth?
The most commonly used phrase in recent times in national conversations is the term, Fake News. The rise of social media, the ever increasing sophistication of technology and the vast amounts of money people are prepared to spend in order to get access to voters has created the perfect storm for the emergence of the post truth era. However, the thing that is bothering me most is the almost deafening silence and even complicity in some cases, by people of faith on the importance of truth. A far cry from the declaration of Jesus, “when you know truth, it will set you free.” Where are the Religious and spiritual voices standing up for truth? Preachers should be trumpeting its importance and calling their flocks to a recommitment to truth above everything else. We cannot be true to our faith when we passively accept lies and deception from leaders in whatever arena in hopes that we will achieve some greater good in the process. That is too high a price. Freedom cannot thrive when truth is dying.
Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish Philosopher wrote, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” In either case the commitment to truth is of first priority. In the face of this onslaught of deception, this attempt to normalize deception as an effective weapon of persuasion in the quest for money and power, I suggest three responses by people of faith.
- Renew our collective and unswerving commitment to truth above all else. Declare a non-negotiable decision to live out the meaning of what it is know the one who declared, “I am the Truth.” Let it be an unequivocal declaration from preachers, teachers, writers, and scholars.
- Hold those accountable who are found be deliberately deceptive in what they declare to be truth. It must be clear that there is a price to pay for such behavior. Those who promise transparency must deliver or else.
- Reject those who are willing to compromise truth as false leaders, “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to use an old cliché. Those who use deception and lies to get my support are attempting to rob me of my freedom, those who support them are just as bad.
In the world of truth, there is no difference between a king and a robber; there the only questions asked are whether what he said is truth and whether it was truth in him. Soren Kierkegaard