Truth Telling

I have a degree in History.  This, you might think, it worthless and silly considering I never considered a career in teaching with this degree!  If I had the chance to do it all over again, I'd choose History every time.  I learned a lot about critical thinking and analysis as a History major.  I'll never forget these words from one of my profs:
"Just because someone says something, doesn't make it true."
Simple enough, right?  "Just because someone says something, doesn't make it true."  As I read through the post-election articles, reflections, and musings, I can't help but be reminded of this statement: "Just because someone says something doesn't make it true."  Just because we are told something about a political candidate, doesn't make it true.  Do some fact checking.  Do some research.  Learn.  Read.  Listen.  Check out FactCheck.org to see what is truth, half-truth, and flat out bull.  It's sad that fact checking sites need to exist, but I wonder, how many people even care?  I believe we would believe almost anything if the right person says it.  Why?  Fear.

There was a lot of fear surrounding this election - on both sides of the political aisle.  Fear can be an awful motivator.  Fear often leads to vilification and demonizing of the other, the unknown, or the stranger.  Fear can lead us to easily identify and exaggerate the negative traits of those with whom we disagree.  Fear causes us to label, judge, and dehumanize the other.  Look at the campaign.  Look at the ugliness.  Look at how quick people are to point fingers, make rash statements and judgments based not on truth, but on fear.  We are willing to stoop pretty low, even us Christians, when we are afraid.

Is there a way forward in our civil discourse?  Is there a way forward in the church as we are forced to tackle difficult social issues such as same sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana, abortion, war, and capital punishment?  Will we listen to each other and take each other seriously, even our enemies?  Will we be informed not by our favorite brand of media or culture warriors, but by God's Word, stories from real people, historical analysis, and evidence?  

I spoke in my last post about the postings on Facebook and Twitter following the election results.  It was clear to me that many of these posts were simply words regurgitated from the various news outlets and stump speeches of candidates.  In some of these posts a dialogue would appear in the comments section.  As I creeped on these conversations, I began to wonder, what is the truth, and is there hope that it will emerge in a Facebook comment section?  Will people really listen to each other through Facebook?  Has anyone EVER changed his/her mind based on Facebook comments alone?  What if those conversations happened over a cup of coffee?  What if those conversations could include a smattering of understanding, a hint of serious reflection, and HUGE doses of HUMILITY?  Would our current civil discourse look any different if we weren't so concerned about winning as we were about loving our neighbor as ourself?

Remember, "Just because someone says something, doesn't make it true."


Steve Martin said...

Jesus said that, "All men are liars".

I guess the only Word that we can trust, absolutely, every time...just from the mouth of God.

Other than that, we ought be very wary. I think that is why the Founders wanted smaller government. They knew the tendencies that humans have when ruling other humans.


Chad McDaniel said...

I agree we need to be wary. Very wary. This is why I believe we need to fact check, fact check, and fact check again.

As to Jesus' teachings, I believe he says more about greed than he does lying. I can't seem to find a text where Jesus says, "All men are liars." There is a reference in Psalms, but it's not Jesus. Greed is something I believe we need to be more concerned with as we consider leadership in our country. Will our leaders truly lead; that is, look to the interests of others or the interests of the greater good, or will they make decisions that benefit themselves? As in, will their hope for reelection or for their own profit influence their policy making?