I took a break from writing one day and went channel surfing. Came across one of those inevitable talk shows. Here’s what caught my attention: A husband was certain his wife was having an affair. In fact he was so obsessed with what he thought was the truth that she left him, after taking a lie detector test…which she passed. (He believed she’d conspired with the tester.) After much discussion on the show, the wife took a second lie detector test. She passed again. When asked if he believed her now, his mouth said yes, but his body clearly said no. What I was amazed by was how the man was so invested in what he thought was the truth that he would not, could not let go of what he believed, no matter how much evidence demonstrated he believed a lie. Ultimately, the wife was told she should divorce him; he wasn’t going to change his mind.
When we seek answers, are we really looking for the truth or are we actually seeking justification of what we already believe as our “truth”? When the truth conflicts with our belief set or paradigms, will we embrace it anyway, no matter how uncomfortable, or simply “shoot” the messenger, thinking that by doing so the message will also die?
I’ve learned some hard lessons about truth of late. We decide what we think is right and use our individual prisms to determine how we see the facts. Most of us are misological about truth when it doesn’t match what we choose to believe. If our view and the facts don’t match, we do one of three things: we retrofit the facts, cutting and pasting them to suit our thinking; we justify our point of view as the exception to the facts, or we deflect and distract from the truth by shooting the messenger and claiming victimization, screaming so loud that most forget what the question was.
Very rarely do we simply accept the fact that we are wrong; that our paradigm needs an adjustment. An excellent example: When President Obama was elected, many could not accept the fact that a person of color and African descent was elected as United States President. For a brief period, some went so far as to advocate that he really was “white” since his mother was an Anglo American. Others are still pursuing the myth that he is not “really an American” and that his birth certificate and newspaper announcement of his birth were somehow falsely created. Doesn’t matter that the repeatedly produced certificates both short and long that were certified as real, nor do the same people realize the newspaper announcing his birth, came from the publisher’s archive and actually easy to prove as authentic. Now this is just my opinion, but it occurs to me that such an expensive effort to continue legal pursuit of an untruth — while deliberately missing court deadlines, dodging filing dates and never providing the requisite substantive legal evidence to support the claims — may be a closeted political strategy. The notion is that if such a claim is still alive, there must be some truth attached. That’s the one strand of hope the birthers hold on to, in order to justify the insidious position they’ve taken. Current Republican candidates continue to allude to this myth without directly owning it, hoping that the perception is enough for their constituent’s realities.
The Obama family just doesn’t fit the stereotypes and it’s right there in their faces every single day. The truth is, the “Huxtables” are real and they are alive and well in communities across the country. The truth requires a change in their paradigms. Many African Americans in all economic level are highly intelligent, well-balanced, hard working, family-oriented people; they are not an anomaly. It nips in the bud the notion that a conservative (which is not analogous with Republican), Christian, family oriented US citizen can also hold Democratic ideological beliefs.
Most strategies have a point-by-point plan in which one must accomplish all points or the strategy will not work. Concepts, actions, et al, originate from the EUC, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Progressive, Tea Party, Independent, Catholic, Atheism, Scientology, Christianity, etc.; humans choose to do what they do under whatever umbrella or umbrellas they happen to be standing under, using the excuse that they are committed to an ideology when in reality they are committed only to what inherently provides personal benefit. Controversy is in, so like Pavlov’s dog looking for the reward, more and more people create controversy to acquire attention, the more outrageous the better, no matter who it harms, no matter who becomes collateral damage.
Truth is what corresponds to fact and/or reality. We may not like what it looks like, it may be painful to accept, but how we feel about it will not negate its existence, no matter how loud we roar. In politics, in religion, in a relationship, the fact is that when we choose to believe what is a lie about a person, group, church, organization, because we fall in love with that belief, concept or person, then we are in love with nobody and nothing; and nobody and nothing loves us very much.
Politicians strategize and count on your acceptance of their repeated soundbytes. It is, in fact what the SuperPacs are counting on, as they pour millions of dollars into the vicious ads appearing across the country, usually during the evening news hours, creating a seamless attachment to the information provided in the news segments to the extraordinarily overstated at best, to outright lies at worst, ads mostly aimed at President Obama, many aimed at Congressional candidates as well. The ads funded by the US Chamber of Commerce for Indiana Senator Richard Lugar — who does not actually have residency in Indiana, and is still justifying that fact — are disappointingly blatant untruths, specifically about the Keystone XL Pipeline he supports and are an example of what can be expected until the election is over. This is what I know: the vicious ads in Indiana by Sen. Richard Lugar are blantant lies. He’s using the Pipeline as his strategy, when just a little fact checking by Hoosiers will tell them that a) It would have created 6000 jobs not 20000, b) the oil would NOT for use in the US but would go to European market, c) use of the words “destroy” and “stolen” in reference to President Obama only gives psychological credence to the usual stereotype of Black/African American men…in Indiana, the state where the KKK was born.
Here is the simple truth about truth: Stop taking shortcuts to information when the facts are important to your decision-making. It’s won’t be enough to use Twitter and Facebook as the crib notes for information. The cable and national networks, in competition for viewers, may proffer a skewed view of the facts in exchanged for your continued engagement. You will need to have resources to support your perspectives at the ready, in order to respond versus react to the vitriol, misinformation and misology that will flowing in the coming months.
You will also need to learn how to discern the what from the why. Here’s an example of what I mean. Rick Santorum is doubling down on his stance concerning specific social issues, versus having any focus on the tough issues such as the economy, jobs, global economic and power concerns. His current meme of distraction is focused on President Obama’s religion. Covert, unsubstantiated comments such as “phoney theology” and “not a theology based on the Bible.” This is the shorter Santorum message: “President Obama is a Muslim therefore Islamic therefore a terrorist.” A ridiculous, dangerous and unproven meme that’s been tried before and failed. The why? As long as he can keep you folks on the right distracted from real issues and focused on that nonsense, he’s got you.
Note: The Tea/Republican party is awfully quiet while Santorum breaks the ninth commandment. But then, the family values and Christianity mantra has always been a marketing strategy for their party branding, not their actual ideology. Don’t think God really cares for being used as a pawn in right wing politics. Just sayin.’
How will you know if you are successful in conveying the truth about a political ideology, topic, event, et al? I’ve discovered that when you approach someone with the facts, when they cannot respond in defense of their beliefs, name calling, faux victimization (they become the victim, suddenly you’re the bully), even character assassination (easy to do on Twitter where only one side of a conversation might be heard) usually ensues. If your goal is to educate, then you will respond with intelligence and maturity, not react to their vitriol and childishness. I’ve found the best thought-stopping response to their reactions is: “Sorry this didn’t turn out like you thought, but did you want the truth or did you want me to tell you what you want to hear?” And sometimes silence works too; your perspective is sometimes best emphasized if you just stop talking.
There are always at least two sides to every story. Somewhere in between is where the truth is hidden. Those who seek the truth, even when it is not what they want to hear, will live the most genuine life. Your decisions may be the same, but they will be based upon an unadulterated integrity. If there is a small voice inside you whispering questions, have the courage to seek the answers, lest your personal truth becomes counterfeit by omission. Decisions made, actions taken, judgments ruled, sans listening to every faction with as much objectivity as humanly possible, will always be based upon warped evidence, ultimately causing those who continue stand upon such flawed reality, to fall.