|What is truth? Deutsch: Was ist Wahrheit? Français : "Qu'est-ce que la vérité ?" Le Christ et Pilate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
ecent developments in this year’s presidential campaign with, at best, deceptive ads accusing Mitt Romney of causing death and destruction as a direct result of his greedy, capitalist, bourgeois activities as the head of Bain Capital, make it clear that truth is no longer regarded as something to be desired. Most people seem to simply shrug, accepting it as part of the new world we're living in. This apathy is a mistake which inevitably leads to disastrous consequences, not just for society but also for each of us individually.
First, as Peggy Noonan points out in Friday's Wall Street Journal, the continual lies are making us a nation of cynics -- we don't believe anything anyone says. We're being lied to with increasing wantonness by our leaders, to the point that we can't accept anything they say. This is amazing to someone who grew up in the 1950's, when national leaders were expected to be truthful, most of the time anyway. Yes, an occasional porky was expected, but generally our leaders spoke the truth, they could be relied upon and respected as decent men. Not so now. It's a distressing situation because not only does it make impossible full, responsible participation in the political process, it’s degrading to all of us as human beings. We become desensitized, even brutalized, as human persons because all around are brutalized.
There's a spiritual cost being exacted that we’re possibly no longer able to even recognize. Thomas Merton wrote in No Man Is An Island:
We make ourselves real by telling the truth. Man can hardly forget that he needs to know the truth, for the instinct to know is too strong in us to be destroyed. But he can forget how badly he also needs to tell the truth. We cannot know truth unless we ourselves are conformed to it. We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know a truth that is outside us. But we make ourselves true inside by manifesting the truth as we see it.
I can't think of anything scarier, not even working for a company taken over by Bain Capital.