A couple of times recently, I’ve been taken aback by so-called experts who boldly make statements (as if they are facts) that I happen to know are false. Now, lying isn’t new, having been part of the human experience since the serpent and the first couple in the Garden of Eden. Still, working in a professional world of science and physical laws, it’s somewhat jarring to see opinions, hypotheses, or outright lies presented as facts. There’s a big difference between saying, “I think that…” or “Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to based on these observations…”, and declaring, “This is the way that it is.”
Unfortunately for some worldviews, just saying something doesn’t make it true. I could tell you that “I’m the king of the world” (to quote a movie I’ve never actually watched), as if merely saying so could make it true. However, I’m pretty sure that you know better than that!
I suppose that we could still go around just saying whatever we want, as if it’s fact. We could use intellectually-incompatible phrases like “alternate facts” or “you can have your own truth”, but I still struggle to understand how that makes sense to anyone who pauses to ponder it. (Having said that, if you have come to a different conclusion from me, based on your observations, we can certainly have a healthy conversation. However, let’s not call things “truth” until we have verified them to be so.)
In the same sense (i.e., saying whatever we want like it’s a fact), we could follow Hitler’s evil plan (sometimes attributed to Goebbels): to lie so dramatically that human emotion bypasses the intellect, allowing ridiculous proposals to be internalized that would never survive a moment of rational thought. Sometimes referred to as the “Big Lie”, I’ll let you sort out what you think qualifies as a “Big Lie” these days. (Hint: I think that there are a lot of them going around.)
Eventually, though, a lie is a lie. And, as one who has subscribed to stories (typically urban legends) that later proved to be false, we are all at risk of holding to something that doesn’t hold water.
So, how do we sort out lies from truth? After all, other than making sure that we’re not lying – or that we at least have the capacity to know when we are – that’s what really matters, isn’t it?
For one thing, we can slow down and stop drinking from the fire hose of inflammatory messages. Perpetual outrage is the fuel of the “Big Lie”. Even the psalmist saw the wisdom in this, in passages like Psalm 23 and Psalm 46:10.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
Psalms 46:10 NLT
As we take the time to consider things rationally (and not allow ourselves to remain in a state of perpetual emotion), we can bring our mind, heart, and body back into alignment. Remember, Jesus expressed righteous anger, but I don’t see Him described in the gospels as being whipped up into a permanent state of outrage. If He (knowing the depths of humankind’s sin, and knowing that He would be persecuted and killed for teaching – and being – the truth) managed to not be riled up all of the time, I think that we can do so, as well.
This may mean getting away from media (of all kinds) for a while. Instead, read a book (the Bible is a great place to start, but sometimes even an uplifting novel or biography can bring some peace). Take a walk outside. Listen to some good music. (I’m not against getting fired up with some inspiring music in order to play in a sports tournament, but we shouldn’t always live in that mode!) Don’t let yourself get caught up in the profit-seeking cacophony of chaos that allows others to use you as their pawn or their product.
Again, with our perfect example in Jesus Christ, even He made time to get away from the crowds:
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Matthew 14:22-23 NLT
Rather than getting into the next topic, let’s pause for today, and maybe seek out some of that peace. Let’s see if we find clarity of truth in the times of peace, rather than when we are stuck in “information overload”.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.