Truth or Fiction?

There was a time earlier in my lifetime when truth was a word that was never up for debate. It was up or down, good or bad, moral or immoral. Facts were facts and always fell on one side of the fence. The dividing line was clear. Untruths fell on the other side of the fence. The lines of demarcation have blurred.

Truth and fiction are diametrically opposed to one another. They are located in different sections of the library for a reason. They aren’t supposed to mingle or co-exist, except in comedy. They actually don’t get along very well in honest debate. Truth and fiction are mortal enemies.

In current day America we find ourselves in a place where facts have become irrelevant – especially if facts go against one’s viewpoint or conviction. Don’t dare point out facts about a story if you spot something that doesn’t sound right or you’ll be taking a perilous journey where you will be labeled, slandered and more.

When made up facts or “truth” are promoted (but are the opposite of what really happened) that’s actually called propaganda. Repetition of distorted facts (if shared often enough) eventually convince, persuade and deceptively sway the reader or hearer especially if they have no anchor of intellect.

Something alarmingly sinister occurs when events or incidents are portrayed (and then repeated) without that reporter of  “facts” has ANY first-hand knowledge of what really happened. Those repeated “facts” spread like wildfire in our society. Then zero truth stories are repeated in the “social world” and everyone becomes unhinged and angry. It’s anything BUT social.

Today I am fishing for an answer (honest and civil). How do we return to absolute truth in America?

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My Honest View of Faith vs. Trump

Every once in a while I have a discussion with my thirties-something son about politics. My intelligent and thoughtful son has observed that a divide has risen among evangelical Christians regarding Donald Trump as president. Generations below my own apparently do not understand why conservative Christians enthusiastically support Mr. Trump. He seems to repel many. They see straight through the person and see the purity issue failures in his past. And they see any evangelical support of him as blatant hypocrisy. My son (any many in his age group) are really curious (and somewhat appalled) why Christians would openly embrace or support such a person?

Right away in our discussion I made it known that I’ve never personally liked the individual holding the highest office in our land right now. The man doesn’t embody the type of person that I would ever admire, especially as a 3 times husband and father from multiple marriages. It’s an odd mix of liberal social thought coupled with seemingly solid family units. Perhaps the man closed the book on his playboy lifestyle some time ago and settled into being a committed husband and father? Maybe he lived his early and mid-life off the rails and somehow found his way back to the tracks?

The businessman turned president has traveled for years in circles with rich and famous globally. He’s rubbed elbows with elite and powerful folks all of his adult life. As a reality TV show host he displayed his brash and bold business style and made many of us cringe to think we would ever have such a boss who would fire people on a whim.

He is a mover and a shaker. He makes things happen in the business world that few could ever claim. And he brags about it. Most of us were taught to keep our bragging to ourselves. Yet he uses his infamous tweets to springboard his ideas into our media frenzied society. His bully pulpit is employed on a daily basis to stir the pot.  I’ve always said that he lights the firecracker and then enjoys watching his detractors run and squeal like wounded animals. I think he fuels current debate topics and then while everyone is all stirred up he moves on to make some other deal. He just messes with his critical audience and toys with them incessantly.

Yet Donald the businessman appeals to people with big money because he provides them places to visit and enjoy. From fabulous golf resorts to fancy hotels in exotic locations throughout the world he aims to please and is rewarded handsomely for his efforts. And the people who visit his properties aren’t the ones of society that are concerned with the cost. They are ones looking for the opulent choice. Such places might be a dream to mainstream America because they (we) will never have the chance to be one of his valued customers. Most of us are way out of his class and thought processes.

But Mr. Trump has found a friend in rural and much of urban America. And one reason I think he has gotten this support is that he is not afraid of poking people in the eye for what many of us see as injustices. He calls people out. He shoots from the hip and says what many were already thinking. He has a way of relating to people in the sphere of mainstream America. He appears to “get” how they are feeling and masterfully taps into that with his folksy off-script events. He energizes his crowds more than we’ve seen in generations. They are lock-step with him, flaws and all.

He is a capitalist in the truest sense. Capitalism is freedom in its truest form. One major greatness of America comes from our individualist freedom. If you can think up a product or service in America, which others might need or enjoy, you have the freedom to create such a business and make a nice profit, if you do it well. Birthing solid profitable businesses creates a positive ripple effects that spew profit and jobs to many in that downhill flow.

When we elect someone to public office it is natural for any prospective voter to review every aspect of a candidate’s life and background. We size them up to see if we like who they are as people. We also evaluate them (rightfully so) on the merits of what they might bring to the table in skills and expertise and based on the office that they will hold. But in the case of Donald Trump we find that his willingness to take on the status quo (in both parties) appeals to many who at just tired of the political gamesmanship that’s been part of our landscape WAY too long. If we truly embrace a capitalist way of life the office of the presidency does leads the charge for business, whether we like it or not.

Trump may not be my candidate of choice based on my social or personal view of him. But we elect someone to preside and command, not lead a Christian congregation as a pastor would. When he was elected, I rather doubted that he would embrace conservative values and programs at all. My greatest hope after his election was the possibility that he’d have the chance to re-balance the Supreme Court. He did follow that path and his choices so far have kept the court from straying too far left. In my humble opinion, the balance of the court was the most important aspect of the 2016 election. opinion.

It is my belief that evangelical believers have been watching closely to see if this president really supports conservative values by his actions, and not just his words. So far he’s done that bidding in big ways. Those same Christians would never exhibit such tactics as in their pursuit of change. But I think Trump’s personality seems to be viewed like Goliath facing and taking down a lot of the the Giants in the political arena (on both sides). Underdogs seem to find a strong friend in Donald Trump.

So we are left with a choice. Some say it’s the lesser of two evils. As I told my son, I just don’t see anyone on the left side of this equation that has plan or ability to take our country in a way that I can positively embrace. So for the time being this right-wing social conservative deplorable will stay in the basket with a flawed guy who seems oddly enough wanting to make America conservative and Christian again.

Life Was SO Much Simpler

Life was so much simpler – when we were less informed.

With the advent of social media and electronic delivery of news, we are instantly aware of things that would have taken hours, days or even months to filter down to us. Life (as we used to know it) moved at a slower and happier pace. Reaction times to news or events barely crawled along. We had to roll out the morning paper or listen to morning radio or TV to hear about national or world events. Things took time to soak in. Once things were known interactions between people happened face to face or voice to voice. Discussions were had around the water cooler or in the break room. We interacted with one another on a person to person level. We were a much more tolerable people because of that. Interactions with friends, co-workers or relatives included every other aspect of life, and not just about the most recent political scandal or salacious affair in Hollywood. We were rounded in our dialogue.

Today the war of words is hateful, spiteful and full of half-truth and innuendo. No longer do we spar or duke things out with multiple rounds to determine the clear winner. Both parties of any argument people now go for the jugular within seconds. We don’t talk things out with honest conversation or debate. We pass judgment immediately based on “clear” lines of distinction. Those differences are usually spelled out with two simple letters – D or R. If you are a D you are labeled immediately as a wacko left-wing commie radical with not an ounce of patriotism in your body. If you find yourself with an R next to your name you are branded as a right-wing extremist bible-thumping gun-toting intolerant hater who thinks refugees should be pushed off of the boat.

In the real world both sides have a handful of people that go to the extreme in their views (left or right). But for the most part our society has a mix of ideas and values that make us land somewhere  between those two dreaded letters. A distinct problem with social media (and instant messaging) is the fact that whoever is the quickest, sharpest and craftiest deliver a stinging message that’s portrayed as pure and honest fact.  The ones who get the most attention are those who yell a quick unverified half-truth, peppered with underlying deceit and deception.

Political correctness has gone amuck. If you dare say anything about race, religion, national origin, sexual preference, or anything that is a social hot point you risk your fortune in a matter of hours. It doesn’t matter if what you say is true or moral. It only matters that you have no right to inject your belief system, especially if it steps on toes of any special interest group. And those “special” groups garner less than 5% of our entire people group.

I consider myself a technical progressive. And that’s a feat for someone my age (early sixties). Many of my peers have only given up their flip phones after the carrier no longer supported their dated technology. I am all for the latest and greatest wireless remote applications that automate everything. I’m waiting for the day that an app can buy, season, cook, and hand feed my food to me (that day is coming!).

But how can we roll back the information age to a saner, kinder and gentler time?