TRUTH MATTERS
deconstructing a haunted house of lies

"The truth is still the truth, even if no one believes it.

A lie is still a lie, even if everyone believes it.”
 

– Unknown –

Truth has taken a serious beating over the past few years, so much so that it was beginning to feel like we were living in an episode of The Twilight Zone, where up was down, down was up, the sky was yellow, fire was blue — and it seemed like a lot of people had lost the ability to even know the difference.

 

There has always been an element of dishonesty in politics, but many politicians, on every level, had started to go way beyond little white lies told on the campaign trail.  Many of the lies some had started to tell didn’t just target their opponents track record or enhance their own, they targeted reality itself.

 

To make matters far worse, there seemed to be more people than ever before willing to relinquish the power of their paint-by-number belief systems to master manipulators who happily color in the blanks for them.  As a result, truth had started to become whatever each person or group of people want it to be.  Truth was quickly becoming a personal choice instead of a touchstone.

 

To our minds, it feels like the results of the 2022 election clearly shows that the majority of Americans flatly reject this dishonest direction (thank God!).  But still, it also feels like truth is not something we can ever take for granted again.

Whereas, in the good ‘ol days, when most of us let facts and reality determine our truth, there are now those who work it exactly backward — deciding first what they want the truth to be, then seeking out whatever post, tweet, conspiracy theory, or cable news host confirms it.  This confirmation bias is not hard to find — regardless of how outlandish it may be — because in our daily lives, we absorb a dizzying kaleidoscope of data that bombards us from all directions.

Overwhelmed by this information onslaught, it’s no wonder most people gravitate toward the sources they are most comfortable with on social media, newspapers, radio, and television — which, through repetition and a total lack of dissent, ultimately combine to create an echo chamber that only amplifies and reenforces the original belief.  Operating in this manner may take less mental energy and its familiarity and consistency may provide temporary comfort, but it only serves to perpetuate our distrust of one another and deepen our political divide. Preaching to the choir takes minimal effort and requires minimal leadership. It’s not courageous, it’s redundant. 

The good news is that Proverbs 12:19 reminds us that “truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” < You do remember Proverbs, don’t you Christians? >

 

Guys, it is absolutely imperative that we ensure this phenomenon of deception has been nothing more than an unfortunate moment in our history and that the moment has now passed. The future of this country depends on it.

As a civil society, we have to get back to a place where we can, at a minimum, agree on a basic set of facts.  Whatever we decide to do about that set of facts is an entirely different issue, but we must start from a place of truth.  This was way easier in the good ‘ol days when families would sit together each night and watch Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley and Edward R. Murrow speak the truth, not as they individually viewed it, but as the way it actually was.  People across the United States all heard the same facts. I’m not naïve enough to believe we will ever get back to that exact place, but there are many ways we can recapture its essence.

Here’s a good place for us to start: To successfully construct a new paradigm, we need to first deconstruct the old one and learn from the lessons it teaches.  Visualize the United States of America as a house. For decades, when viewed from the outside, our house looked amazing!  It was bright and cheerful, and carefully maintained. In fact, our house looked so perfect from the outside that very few guessed it was in danger of rotting from within.

The construction of our house, like all houses, started with the foundation. In almost every way, the foundation is everything because without a strong foundation, the stability of the entire house is at risk.  Unfortunately, the foundation of our house — which was originally created to be rock-solid by brilliant men in 1787 — is now in danger of deteriorating into dust, thanks to the severe erosion caused by extreme partisanship politics.

It is on this weakened foundation that the walls of our house now stand. When the walls of our house were originally constructed, they were built with the durable — and once thought indestructible — planks of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They were built from a blueprint that envisioned the strongest, most resilient republic ever conceived.

Now, however, the walls of our house have also been damaged. Imagine that these walls represent every American as an individual. They embody the walls that each of us — at once emotional, societal and political — have built for ourselves and around ourselves.  Take, for example, the life experiences of many hard-core Trump supporters that I described earlier.  It may be difficult if you are not one of them, but try hard to imagine the walls they have likely built around their own hearts.  And this goes for every other American as well.

Meanwhile, as the foundation of our house crumbled and the walls around the hearts of many Americans solidified, the ghosts of our past remained active and destructive for Black Americans.

 

Our house was more haunted than ever before.

Still today, the scars branded as far back as slavery remain painfully evident for many of these Americans. Generations of pervasive disparity has taken an egregious toll on members of this community, a population uniquely susceptible to the inequitable cycles of preceding generations.  Their struggle shows up every day and in every system, and the issues they face are linked in complex ways… low or no employment, inadequate education, uneven health care, episodic poverty, dangerous and segregated housing, addiction, predatory lending, and an extremely unfair criminal justice system, just to name a few.

With a damaged foundation and unstable walls on all sides, our haunted house was already under the threat of being reduced to kindling — just barely able to hold its own weight.  But then…

 

Into this perfect storm walked Donald Trump…holding a match.