Truth and Lies
I recently heard a riveting talk by Professor H. Scott Fingerhut that brought into sharp focus our modern confrontation between truth and lies in the guise of facts and alternate realities. The Professor’s thesis centers around the concept that “Truth is as vital a part of [our] civic, social and intellectual culture as justice and liberty”
But what is truth? It often isn’t obvious and is seldom simple. And more often than not it is hard to hear. In fact, in today’s world we are constantly faced with confronting inconvenient truths when what we want to believe is a reassuringly unchallenged lie.
As a result we more continually find ourselves in situations where facts and truths are less influential in shaping our opinions and actions than emotions and personal beliefs. So the question is whether in today’s society facts still reign or do irrational beliefs triumph over truth?
Far too many of us, especially among the ranks of our elected leaders, have gotten too comfortable with rejecting proven facts and science in favor of ideology and preconceptions. Their mantra has become, “I’m entitled to my opinions so I’m entitled to my own facts.” In essence they are willing to accept false claims, or even outright lies, when those lies resonate with their views on any given subject.
The perfect example of this phenomena is global warming and climate change. In the face of irrefutable proof that our earth’s temperature is rising at such a dangerous rate that within thirty years we will be confronted with worldwide climate disaster, crucial segments of our leadership persist in saying “it ain’t so” because they don’t want it to be.
They are actively resistant to all the facts that might alter their preexisting beliefs on the subject. Why? Because facing up to them would mean they would have to change their (and our) ways. Such changes will cost vast amounts of money and require lifestyle changes they just don’t want to contemplate.
For them the alternative reality of denial is preferable even when confronted with study after scientific study that underlies the dire truth of this looming disaster. A disaster fueled by what will soon be a world population close to nine billion people all burning various forms of fuel to create the energy needed for our selfish consumption of resources. All of which heat up our atmosphere and generally pollute our land, sky and oceans.
This response is unacceptable. Their rejection of truth to protect their preferred vision along with their own fragile egos can only lead to universal suffering and disaster for the rest of us. Their willful ignorance and denial of facts is not a virtue. We must be prepared to respectfully tell them they are wrong and back that truth up with our votes and activism.