“Everybody lies.” So says Dr. House, a Sherlock Holmes-ian character from the famous Medical mystery show “House”. Is it true? If everybody lies, who can we trust to give us accurate, current information about what is going on in the world? CNN? MSNBC? FOX? Twitter? Facebook? Who can we trust and who should we be reading and watching?
There is an old riddle about two identical guards standing in front of two identical doors. One guard always tells the truth and the other always lies. With only one question, you have to determine which door is the safe one to pass through. The key to this logic puzzle is to move away from an objective idea of truth (either something is true or it is false) and to move to a more subjective concept of truth (true from the perspective of one person or another).
Post-modern thinking made a strange jump when it came to subjective thinking. It took subjectivity to the logical conclusion that nothing is true and everything is true, depending upon any given perspective, and then somewhat violently commandeered the “authority of perspective”, becoming a dictator of truth for those deemed less intelligent. What does that mean? Let’s look at this from a race-relations perspective. Imagine someone parading around town with a giant banner that stated “________ people need to stand together!” The blank could be filled in with several different words. Several words might give us a sense of a civil rights movement and fill us with a sense of positive social change and honor. A few words in that same blank might cause concern among us and alert the FBI or Homeland Security. Even if we state that truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, we can quickly see that it is acceptable for some people to form political groups and not ok for others, and that this is something that we should all accept as “truth”.
Today “truth” is not an objective reality, it is a commodity that we fight over as much as land, oil, or trade. The dilemma we face is worse than the riddle of the twin guards. There is no guarantee that one guard always lies or that the other ever tells the truth, and with the rushed pace of life, we rarely have more than one or two questions to ask to help us determine the truth of the matter.
However, I believe the answer remains the same. like the riddle answer, which is to ask one guard what the other guard would say about one of the doors, we have to find a way to get behind the journalism, bring the objective into a subjective light, and bring the media into the story itself. Easier said than done, especially since one of the most important rules of journalism is to maintain that precious objectivity and to be sure the journalist does not become the story herself.
We need to ask FOX how they think MSNBC would spin the latest news. We need to ask CNN how they think NPR perceives the current polls.We need to expand our own understanding while asking others to expand their own understanding around us. Proverbs puts it like this:
Compare notes. Find multiple sources. Pay attention to the other perspective. Identify your own bias and specific hold on “truth”. Don’t settle for the easy way out. Jesus taught:
and Proverbs again teaches:
Finally, don’t give up. Keep seeking for the truth. Jesus promised: