By David Hegg
With all the news available to us today it is impossible to escape the overwhelming sense that those in positions to tell us what is happening around us have lost a mutual understanding of what we once called truth. What I mean is this: It used to be that facts were indisputable bits of data, and they formed the foundation of what we understood as being true. Not just true for you if you wanted it to be, but true regardless of the consequence of that truth.
For example, if you add two apples to two other apples you get four apples. It doesn’t matter if you like apples, or if you’re trying to sell more apples, or if you didn’t vote for apples in the first place, the facts add up to the undeniable truth that you now have four apples.
This simple equation also rests on the idea that we all know what apples are, and we’re all working from the same mathematical certainties. And now that I think about it, that’s where the idea of getting the truth from the various sources that deluge us daily breaks down. We don’t have the facts they have. More damaging, we don’t know if they actually have all the facts, or further, if they have more facts than they want us to know about and are only using the facts that support the “truth” they most want to be true.
Here’s the deal: We’ve all seen courtroom scenes where the witness swears to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” And why is that? It’s simple really.
Consider that the truth is a horizontal line. Let’s call it the “line of truth,” and if we’re honest, we want those we depend on for the news of the day to “hold the line,” to resist stopping below the line, and as well, refrain from going above the line.
To “tell the truth” and stay on the line all the way is how trust is demonstrated. When news sources stay on the line, they maintain rather than obfuscate the truth. When they just give us the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we realize they are trusting us to interpret the ramifications of that truth ourselves, according to our values, our circumstances and our personal sense of freedom. In so doing, the responsibility for our choices, our views and our actions falls on us!
But when news sources go above the line, adding non-truth – think bias, political values, or interpretation of facts not in evidence – that is costumed carefully as fact, we move out of the realm of trust and find ourselves in the arena of tyranny. Going above the line in a manipulative attempt to cast opinion or bias or political narrative as truth is to act the part of the tyrant who desires to manipulate and manage rather than motivate free people to use their brains and make their own choices.
If staying on the line leaves us in the arena of truth and going above the line drags us into the realm of tyranny, staying below the line and not telling the whole story pushes us into the turmoil zone where we’re forced to live without the clarity we crave. And the only reason I can think of as to why those appointed to tell us what’s going on will intentionally not tell us what’s going on is that their strategic plan somehow demands that we be kept in the dark. And as we all know, being in the dark over the past few years has created anxiety, irritability and the concern that life may never be normal again.
So, there you have it. Trust, tyranny and turmoil. Those are our choices. The folks who tell us the truth treat us as responsible free citizens who are able to think and decide and act. They leave us in the arena of being responsible for our thoughts, views and actions. But those who attempt to manipulate us either by adding “truth so called” to the actual facts, or by callously refusing to give us all the facts, are really saying we can’t be trusted to make good decisions. They’re insistent that we need them to tell us how to think, how to decide, and how to act.
I say it’s time to stop watching, listening to, or in any way putting up with all those who don’t trust us with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I say it’s time to quit being told what to think, how to think, how to feel, and how angry to be. Let’s rise up and use the freedoms we have before they erode so far from non-use that we forget what it was like to think for ourselves.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.