Whatever happened to the truth?

“Pearls are layers and layers of soothing ‘nacre’ intended to insulate the delicate mollusk from the irritant that abraded it. At root, a pearl is a ‘disturbance,’ a beauty caused by something that isn’t supposed to be there, about which something needs to be done. It is the interruption of equilibrium that creates beauty. Beauty is a response to provocation, to intrusion. …The pearl’s beauty is made as a result of insult just as art is made as a response to something in our environment that fires us up, sparks us, causes us to think differently.” –Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper

This weekend was tough for me (see here and here why that was the case). I watched the inauguration, CIA speech, press conference coverage, and Sunday morning political talk shows only because I want to be an informed citizen. I walked away from all of those television events asking, “Since when is it acceptable to blatantly lie to your own people?”

Luckily, the TV hosts were thinking along the same lines as I was. As both George Stephanopoulos and Chuck Todd asked the president’s “senior advisor” that very same question, I hoped that I would get some insight into the point of telling wanton untruths. Instead, I witnessed with my own eyes and ears the way she danced around the question, refused to answer it, and defended fraud in her use of the phrase “alternative facts.”

During his press briefing yesterday, the White House press secretary said, “Sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” thereby showing his lack of familiarity with the definition of the word “fact” or his confusion of the word “fact” with the word “opinion.”

I’m not writing about this as a partisan object. This isn’t a matter of liberal versus conservative or Republican versus Democrat; this is an assault on the truth.

Whatever happened to the truth?

I was aware of the talk of “fake news” during the election campaigns, but when did we lose respect altogether for the truth, the most sacred of values?

I read in the Wall Street Journal that the White House press secretary said that Friday’s inauguration crowd “was the largest ever, although available evidence disputes that claim.” The size of crowd is not the focus of this sentence, and no one should allow themselves to get distracted by it. The sticking point is the “available evidence disputes that claim.” I have been a juror in a serious court case before, so I have firsthand experience with the importance of evidence. Evidence can help find someone guilty or prove their innocence. In other words, depending on the case, evidence has the power to determine if someone will continue living or if they will die because they committed an unspeakable crime. Evidence is the closest representation to truth there is, and it is the backbone of our justice system. We cannot let the truth be cast aside as optional. If we can throw out the truth, I shudder to think what could be disregarded next.

The Declaration of Independence states that the founding fathers held “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Lies, falsehoods, and “alternative facts” impinge upon freedom and equality, and they have since this country was founded. I am baffled at the current administration’s audacity to so boldly counter American values as it touts a [Nazi-inspired, according to history books] “American first” agenda.

I do not understand how this has happened, or why it has happened, but I do know that I will continue to stand for the truth, and I want you to do the same. Call out the lies that chip away at our democracy. Do not apologize if you are well-educated and intellectual, but be proud of who you are and what you know, and despite the ugly wishes of those who want otherwise, the result will be beauty.