I’ve been thinking a lot about truth. At this point it seems to me that truth is subject to perspective, which in turn provides opinion, and often opinion is not necessarily the truth!
In John’s Gospel, the 18th chapter, Jesus is quarried by, and responds to, one of Pilate’s questions by saying, “I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth…” Pilate responds to Jesus by smirking, “So, what is truth?” A very relevant question in the light of everything he had heard about Jesus. Public opinion, among other things, was saying that he claimed to be the “Son of God.” Pilate was quite perplexed, because in his mind, who and what determines what truth is? So, in order to save face and quell a possible revolt, he caved to public opinion and allowed the Jewish Sanhedrin to do with him as they wish.
I find it interesting and disheartening in today’s culture of 2022, that there is such a division of truth. The divisive division of dems and GOP, white supremacy, racial tensions, religious bigots, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and more, overwhelm our culture with negativity. We have always had these various divisions in our culture but since the Trump administration, the door was opened which allowed these right-wing, ultra conservative groups to come out as the new normal. Many are mired in conspiracy theories that go beyond anything that seems plausible with the main banner being the “big lie” that Trump really won the election. Republican states are doing everything they can to keep minorities from voting, particularly in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Arizona. They are blatantly legislating voting procedures that eliminate or make it difficult for minorities to even go to the polls. Along with Covid-19 and the Omicron variant there is a new normal shaping our culture and, if you please, a new version of truth trying to undo our democracy.
The truth of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are being bastardized under the heading of a mock truth that up is down, wrong is right and two plus two equals five. In the famous words of Pontius Pilate in response to Jesus, “What is truth?”
The congressional Republicans, in mass, have denied voting rights and social programs pertinent to the American body. “What do the Republicans stand for?” President Biden asked during a recent press briefing. Minority Leader McConnell said, “Hmmm, let me think about that. We’ll tell you when we get the power back.” Complete and intentional stalling of the political process. Not one Republican senator voted for the voting rights bill. That’s an American tragedy. 40% of Americans believe that Joe Biden is not the fair elected president of the USA. This means that 40% of Americans believe that voter fraud elected the wrong guy, even though Biden won the popular vote by 11 million. Secretary of States across the country said, following the election, that this was the most accurate and fraud-free election in history.
If you go back and look at the 40% of people who don’t believe that Joe Biden is the officially elected President, you have to conclude that these 40% believe in some conspiracy theory or theories contrary to the actual true reality of science and methodology regarding the 2020 election.
An article on Vox.com by Aja Romano speaks to this issue. Romano points out that, “Over one in three Americans believe that global warming is a hoax. A full 49% of New Yorkers believe that the United States government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks. Over 50% of Americans believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Approximately 37% of Americans believe that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is deliberately keeping the public from getting natural cures for cancer.”
Conspiracy theories seems to be part of the evolution of humanity. In this same article, Romano refers to Ben Radford, fellow with the Center for Inquiry, says that one would think that the 21st century has opened the “Pandora’s box of conspiracies.” Radford goes on to say, “The history of conspiracy theories is somewhat short, relative to human evolution.” According to Radford, “…the first conspiracy theories as we might recognize them now likely didn’t spring up until the mid-15th century, with the invention of the Gutenberg press in the 1440s. Movable type allowed for the wider spread of information — and anxious reinterpretation of that information. Suddenly you not only have knowledge that is reproducible, but you also have other people who are writing about things that may have a different perspective.” This was the moment, he argues, in which the first conflicts of information arose over what was true and what wasn’t.
Radford continues, “conspiracy theories have most often flourished during times of great sociopolitical upheaval and uncertainty. You see this kind of boom in conspiracies whenever there’s political or social unrest throughout history, whenever there is significant uncertainty in the world.”
Romano says that “…conspiracy theories provide people with a feeling of control when presented with troubling and disturbing information, calming our fears of the inevitable or unknown. A lot of these conspiracies detract from some scary themes in the world. Climate change, coronavirus. It’s just another way to deny reality and having to think about your own fragility in the world. It’s an escape for people who are not so tolerant of uncertainty.”
There is a movie on Netflix called, “Don’t Look Up.” It’s about a comet discovered heading for earth and because of the political implications, the President of the US says, “Don’t Look Up!”
So, what is truth? First regardless of what some might think, I personally believe that you have to trust science. The nay-sayers say that you can’t trust science because it is always changing. That’s exactly the point! Science is dynamic in its discovery and evolution, changing as more information and knowledge is gained. Case in point, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) says one thing one week, the next week that information has changed because the science has discovered new information. Science is dynamic, always changing, expanding, even at the sub-atomic level. Scientific discoveries reveal new facts, and new theories about who and what the Universe is, and let’s face it, science has only uncovered less than 5% of what might and could be known.
Secondly, there is a universal spiritual truth that lives at the core of all sentient beings, that we all share the same DNA of creation and are ONE with all there is. Creation’s strength and beauty is in its diversity, variety and uniqueness. This diversity, variety and uniqueness is expressed in Love, though we don’t always respect and allow love to play out in our cultural relationships with people who don’t look like us and act like us. It is unfortunate that many in our culture can’t grasp the notion that we are brothers and sisters together of one great Creator and the beauty of our uniqueness is in our diversity.
The Constitution of the US and its Bill of Rights displays a principled set of moral values that work in a big D Democracy. Those values are important guidelines for all Americans and has basically worked over the last 240 years, with some exception, the Civil War, which frankly, never really ended with the South. Many Southerners still want to fly the Confederate flag as their truth.
Some say the strength of our democracy (small d) is starting to quaver and slip into fascism. I don’t know it that true or not. I do believe that the stronger minds of the true patriots of Democracy will prevail, and we will survive this hiccup and get on with the business of living faithfully, truthfully and benevolently together.
Therein is my truth.