Friday, October 2, 2009

Veritas super omnia (Truth above all else)

Today the house is wide open, probably for the first time since sometime in March or April. We'll have to close up and put the AC back on by lunch, but the refreshing nature of the air this morning is inviting and delicious. After six-plus months of air-conditioning everything gets stale - no matter how well ventilated the house is.

Yesterday I drove all the way back from Gainesville with the roof open and the windows down, so I'm doubly grateful for the brief respite from oppression. The weather-people promise 91 degrees and high humidity again tomorrow. Ho hum...

Shuttered eyes, closed minds and filtered media:
It occurs to me that many of us try to arrange the world of news and ideas the same way that we manage our physical environment. Tightly shuttered windows, closed doors and predetermined ambient temperatures for our houses... and then similarly engineered, sealed shut, and "contaminate free" exposure to the world of ideas. Shuttered eyes, closed minds and filtered media...

We select narrowly focused information to fit neatly with conclusions we have already decided are true or acceptable or comfortable. A huge number of Americans launder their awareness of the world via pre-conclusive and prejudicial commentary to the extent that they listen to, read, circulate, and talk - exclusively - about a set of neatly cloned ideologies they did not even reason their way to themeslves. Over time, and the more they repeat the process, even patently fabricated theories and assumptions and widely circulated myths soon morph into "fact".

There's nothing wrong with opinion so long as it is understood as opinion. But there's a lot wrong with the dissemination of untruths under the guise of fact.

BUT - and this is hugely important - lies only gain traction with the cooperation of the hundreds of thousands of people who pass them on as "fact" simply because they support the point of view to which they already subscribe.

Jesus said a lot about freedom and he said a lot about truth. In one telling moment he brought the two together when he said the following. "The truth is going to set you free." Here's the thing: people who push lies on the American people are not lovers of freedom. People who pass on lies are working against freedom.
  • Every deception and lie that is passed on, and advertised as fact, becomes a blow to the ideals this nation was founded on and is sustained by.
When anyone begins an argument with the assertion that , "They" are taking away our freedoms... and then goes on to tell a lie - Well, it's fairly obvious who is taking away freedom, and who is the real threat to America, isn't it?

Veritas super omnia - DEREK


JoAnne said...

Hi, Derek. Gray and I are in Melbourne Beach celebrating the early arrival and good health of Andrea and Drew's premie, Charles Gray. We are keeping up with you and enjoying your blog as ever. After months away from the "St. Pete Times" point of view, I admit to being uneasy with the slant of today's blog. Personally, I give every commentary from ANY advocate all the truth tests I can, but sites like Snopes have their own slants as much as Fox News. Finding the truth is exhausting. "What Would Jesus Do?" is the only truth test I trust in the end ... and that only if I continue to grow in faith, works and knowledge. Sorta simplistic I know, but what else is a Christian to do? Not turn a blind eye to anybody's propaganda, for sure.

Derek Maul said...

Yes, finding the truth is certainly exhausting. But of course my point
is that it's worth the effort.
I missed the slant in today's post that your are uneasy with? What was
it? I get forwarded fabrications from every point on the political
compass and I don't remember recommending (or fingering) any
particular news outlet as either truth-worthy or otherwise... My
problem is with the tendency of people to swallow without question
stuff that fits into their preconceived view. That's a difficulty no matter where you are on the chart. You're right, the best truth test is following Jesus - I'd say he's a solid source.
It's like I said in the blog post with the two pictures of the leaning tower of Pisa: "The Bible I read teaches me to follow Jesus -
sometimes that's the same direction that conservatives are taking...
sometimes that's the direction liberals are going. But more typically it is another way altogether. My category is that of 'disciple'. And, more often than not, that's a counter-cultural designation."