How do we know something is true? How do I know something is true? How do you know something is true? Honestly, do we even care whether we know something is true or not?
This has become the most ignored question in society. As in one of my prior posts, The Dossier: Journalism’s Distrust Factor, even the groups that are supposed to be trusted and are supposed to incorporate truth into the conversations between the public and politicians, corporations, environmentalists, human rights activists, and the rest, are failing to answer the question. More so, they are failing to ask the question.
This is not new. This has been a problem for a very long time. But now it is more widespread. It is no longer a problem that can be dealt with individually. It is an epidemic that requires a cure-all and I will go ahead and tell you what that cure-all is: honesty.
For some who read that word, you are probably thinking, “Of course, that’s the answer; but how do we get people to be honest?” That is not the million dollar question because it is no longer a question, but a trek. It is a path that we must take together, and in order to take that journey, we must leave some behind.
For the others who read that word, you are probably thinking, “What are you talking about? My side is being honest. It’s the other side that’s…” I mentioned we must leave some behind on this journey, and I’m afraid that would be you.
PATRIOTISM AND NATIONALISM
There is nothing wrong with being a Republican. There is nothing wrong with being a Democrat. What is wrong is when the Republican or Democrat believes their party and its representatives can do no wrong.
Sydney Harris, the author and columnist, put it rather plainly the dangers of believing in the infallibility of your own country; and I believe it is equally dangerous regarding your own political party:
“The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war.”
If you pay any attention to the news or the words of people on social media or even in coffee shops (I admit I eavesdrop a lot), there is a true sense of nationalism in the air, which attempts to wrap itself in the garments of patriotism. Of course, this is how it always starts. I like to reference the words of Jesus when He calls it “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Of course, He was referencing false prophets, and we tend to take that to only regard spirituality or religion. But I declare it is also political, and I believe Jesus defined it accurately, as you see the vulgarity of each side of the political aisle. He said, “Beware of false prophets (anyone who distorts or perverts the truth), which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
The scariest part I find regarding today’s society and the words of Jesus is not that we must heed them before the wolves dispense with the clothing. What scares me the most is that we know these words and we see the wolves under the sheep’s clothing in our midst and we disregard the truth of each.
LET’S START AT THE TOP
So let’s direct our attention to our party leaders. I will go back to the year 2000, since that is when I was first allowed to vote. Four terms and two presidents. The fifth term and third president has just begun. Now I am not going to pull out countless scenarios about each president, but let me just point out one for each:
Shortly after the attacks of 9/11, a bill called the USA Patriot Act (ironically named) was passed. Without going into detail, this bill defied much of the US Constitution when it comes to privacy and illegal searches and seizures. It was amazing to know that our government was going to allow such behavior from the intelligence community. It was framed as part of the fight against terrorism, and in our collective fear, it was passed almost unanimously. “Patriot” was in the name, but it seemed rather “Nationalist” in scope by creating golden opportunity to bypass due process and enable the invasion of privacy.
In July 2015, the Administration signed a deal with Iran to stunt their nuclear weapons program. In this agreement, Iran agreed to utilize its nuclear program for peaceful purposes only. In turn, America agreed to lift sanctions on the country, which would release billions of “frozen” assets (Republicans say $150 billion; Democrats say $56 billion) and also enabled Boeing and Airbus to negotiate deals with the country. It is well documented that Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world and even the Obama Administration’s State Department categorized the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism”. It was framed as a security measure to keep Iran from creating a nuclear weapon in a shorter period of time, but it also strengthens its ties to terrorism and its ability to deliver weapons through air transportation, giving credence to the idea that America recently funded terrorism.
Approximately 10 days into office, President Trump signed an Executive Order that established a travel ban against immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, which were known for being state sponsors of terrorism. Campaigning on stopping Muslim immigration into the US justifiably made it seem to be a “Muslim Ban” rather than a “Travel Ban.” From the verbal and digital words of President Trump to the interview with Rudy Giuliani, there aren’t many other ways to verbalize the EO than by calling it a “Muslim Ban” simply because it was indicated to be just that by those who created it. This too was framed as a security measure to protect the country from terrorism, but also calls into question the legitimacy of the order and its integrity.
With all three of those scenarios, I can practically guarantee that the majority of readers had one of two reactions: they either agreed with one scenario and disagreed with two, or they agreed with two scenarios and disagreed with one. Why? The answer isn’t based on the facts of the situation. The answer behind agreeing and disagreeing depends heavily on party preference. It is a choice of either patriotism or nationalism that results in the direct and voluntary intertwining of the two.
Over these past three presidents, I have heard all three compared to Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler by various groups. It is astonishing to think that such comparisons can even be uttered. I believe fully it is because we are surrounded by political party-goers who have absolutely zero sense of perspective and historical understanding and just as much regard for factual information. If the facts do not fit the politics, then the facts do not fit at all.
THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY OF TRUTH
Mr. Harris stated that our patriotism should create a “feeling of responsibility”. This is a responsibility for how our country is conducted and how we conduct ourselves as citizens. There are parts to this responsibility. One part is understanding our country’s roots, its Constitution, its faults and strengths, its failures and successes. The other responsibility is for the truth and how vital of a role it plays not only in our personal lives, but from our personal lives to the lives of millions around us. We are part of the truth process. If we aren’t telling the truth, then we won’t care to hear it, and if won’t care to hear it, then it will matter very little if those in power are speaking it.
In regard to those speaking the truth, it cannot come down to your Conservative/Liberal preferences. The truth is truth and we have a responsibility to uphold it, even when our neighbors won’t. Even when our fellow Republicans won’t. Even when our fellow Democrats won’t. Even when the media won’t. Even when our presidents won’t.
The truth, not man or politics, holds us to a higher standard. Can we attest to being upheld by it? Can we attest to upholding it? Or do we attest to the profitability of its perversion? A profit that renders deception, division, and strife.
Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth and do not sell it.” In other words, understand the inestimable value of truth and hold onto it with all your might, even if it costs you everything. Stand by the truth. Stand for the truth. Stand in the truth. And as Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.”