Searching For Relevance
September 29, 2017
In all honesty, it is becoming harder and harder to know what or who to believe anymore. This past week we find out that hundreds of false articles were placed on Facebook or Twitter by the Russian government in an effort to influence the presidential election just past. This morning I was reading about the latest internet scam surrounding the sale and purchase of on-line pets. Evidently, thieves are stealing photos and ads from legitimate breeders and posting them, accepting monies, but with no intent of ever providing the purchaser with a dog. Nice! And I’m sure there are hundreds of additional examples.
The most concerning result of this, in my opinion, is the general distrust it breeds among and between all of us. The foundation of democracy is the freedom to honestly share our opinions and divergent facts without malfeasance or malice in the belief that in so doing, all participants become better informed and reach a new truth. To foster an attitude that is intended to promote something other, is not only divisive, but inherently destructive. It is the newest of wars — the war for our minds!!
But this is nothing new, falsehoods and various forms of propaganda have always been spread among the general populace. When I worked for President Ford, one of my assignments was to follow, then candidate Reagan because he had a habit of spouting extemporaneous facts, which may or may not have been accurate. When this occurred, it was my responsibility to research what was said and then submit to the papers my findings. It is in this same vein why, as Ken Burns so amazingly revealed in his documentary on Vietnam, our government chose to measure victory and failure based upon daily “body counts”. The numbers could be manipulated when things weren’t going the way they wanted. What was being shared was not necessarily a lie, but neither was it the whole truth.
So, how do we make our way through this labyrinth of discernment involving truth and proposed truth? As simply as possible.
Is what we are reading helping or hurting our society?
Who do we listen to in the public sector and do their actions match their words?
Are the opinions we hear attempting to be objective, or intent upon enflaming our anger?
Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Phillippi:
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4: 8-9 The Message
Rev. Dr. Keith Haemmelmann