We Have A Problem With The Truth. Does it Matter?

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from The Gray Area:


In 21st Century American culture we have a problem with the truth. Truth as a concept in America is publicly debated and too often purposely clouded.

Is there really truth? What is truth? What does it mean to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Have you ever said, do anything, but don’t lie to me? Does the truth have to hurt? Is truth personal or universal? Is your truth different than mine? And, so on.

Is that relativity okay?

Relativism is an ideological position taken primarily by the political left in this country. According to Wikipedia, relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, but rather only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration. The doctrine that there are no absolute truths is that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cultural relativism).

Why confuse perception with truth? Does the truth matter?

The topic of truth came to mind when I read a review of the new book, THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT, about the face off between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse at the turn of the 20th Century. The following idea in this review caught my attention; “ The novel ends with an eight-page note from the author laying out in great detail exactly which parts of the novel happened as described and which did not. Out of necessity, the time frame has been compressed, the chronology of real events fudged and some incidents invented from whole cloth. None of this is surprising. “The Last Days of Night” is, after all, a work of fiction. And yet knowing that the truth has been embroidered doesn’t precisely explain the lack of “truthiness” … I felt while reading Moore’s book.

“Truth” is a word I’ve pondered often during my tenure working on a television show called “Fargo,” based on the Coen brothers’ film of the same name. That film starts with a chyron — “This is a true story” — and my show [Before the Fall] does as well. And yet neither their story nor mine is “true,” in that the events depicted never actually happened. At the same time, my understanding of the film, and my belief as the writer of the show, is that to justify the claim, the stories must feel true.

So, truth can be a lie, if it “feels” true? This book, the TV series Fargo and others, can legitimately be advertised as “a true story” when, in fact, they are not. At best they are based on a true story, yet we allow them to be presented as truth. Fortunately Mr. Moore ends his book with truthful clarification.

In this political season we hear competing facts on issues like climate change, gun control & race. We talk daily about the candidate’s comments being “fact checked” for truthfulness. Each candidate is found to regularly be lacking in truthfulness, albeit in different areas. One candidate’s truthfulness covers broad areas of campaign statements, official government proclamations and matters of secrecy. The other primarily on campaign statements. Each candidate, though, continues to contend they have been or always “try to be” truthful.

What do we do in a world where the truth is not always the truth? Vary your news sources for one. The truth is always the road less traveled.

And, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).