In an Age of Propaganda, the Truth Still Sets You Free
One week ago today, the world woke up to the news of the political earthquake that was the 2016 US Presidential Election. And the aftershocks haven’t stopped yet.
Every election has those disappointed with the results. One of the major aftershocks of this election has been the unprecedented levels of fear, anger, and even violence. These are things we have not seen before in our country, but which we usually associate with nations we consider unstable. While it would be easy for those happy with the election to write off those expressing their opposition as “crybabies,” the reality is more complicated. We have children afraid that their parents will not come home after work because of the perceived imminent deportations facing millions. Others hear of widespread racial and other prejudicial violence and wonder if they are next. But are these fears well-founded? This is the most hotly debated question. And here is why it is so hotly debated.
All those who have followed this election feel well-informed, and base their reaction on this body of information. We all believe we have the facts on our side. But here’s the problem: we all have different “facts.” Some of us “know” that the new administration will be engaging in massive, hateful, racist and cold hearted deportations. Others say those views are crazy and that the new administration will just have a different application of existing laws. Everyone “knows” what’s going on and too few are checking to see what IS true and are going on what FEELS true.
Few would argue that we live in an age of relativism. This fancy word simply means that truth—for a large and growing portion of society– is not objective. To them, truth is subjective–what is true for me may or may not be true for you. And some would say this is as it should be. They believe everyone should be valued and everyone’s views honored. All would agree with that. But contradicting this modern, novel relativism is the belief that there is objective truth, and what is truth is true for all. So we now have a situation where we can’t agree on whether or not the truth is objective–or subjective to one’s feelings and opinions.
In this environment, the lines between what is factual and what used to be called propaganda have now been blurred. Now, throw into this confusion a politically polarized country and two very controversial candidates and you have the makings for, well, what we have: lots of confusion, and two very different views on what is really going on. And maybe some of us have been caught up in this tempest. But we don’t have to be. We have one more Ingredient to add to the mix.
Jesus Christ walked this planet two millennia ago and made a bold statement: “I am the way, the TRUTH (emphasis my own) and the life.” For Christians, truth cannot be subjective. He is a Person. And if this Truth has been incarnated (“to put on flesh”) in the Person of Jesus, then ALL truth is either true or not. We Christians have received the great gift of the Truth. Just after we receive Holy Communion, we sing “We have seen the TRUE Light; we have received the Heavenly Spirit.” So let’s commit to being loyal servants of the One who is Truth, and in serving Him, let’s be an encouragement those around us to find the peace that comes not only in Him that is Truth, but in any truth. Too much of what masquerades as truth—namely, propaganda—only brings the fear, anger and violence that we have seen. So as we strive to live a life of peace amidst all of the propaganda that easily wants to entangle us, our challenge is to seek truth.
Let’s put our faith in the promise He who is Truth gives us: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).