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"Truth Decay"

August 23, 2018


“Truth isn’t truth”, or is it?  This is the question that currently confronts all of us, as we struggle to define what is an acceptable standard for moral behavior, both on an individual and corporate level.  Even though I think I understand what Rudy Guilliani meant when he said, “Truth, isn’t truth!” (i.e. two different people with two different versions of the same event and what really happened), it was still shocking to hear.


In 1976, when I worked as part of the President Ford election committee, one of my responsibilities was to follow, then candidate Reagan, and listen carefully to any facts and figures he shared during his speeches.  It was common knowledge that he had a tendency to misspeak as he emphasized the points he wished to make.  Since there was no Google at the time, my job was to research what he said and provide to the press, any discrepancy I may have found.  This was not unique, as the Reagan Campaign did the same thing regarding Ford, the difference was, news involving Ford usually centered upon nothing more exciting that his stumbling or banging his head against something.  With the omnipresent internet of today, the task I performed is no longer necessary.  Rather, the responsibility of determine fact from fiction, good from bad, right from wrong, truth or falsehood, is left to each of us.  And with the amount of information at our disposal, this is a task that becomes harder by the day.


One of the big lessons to be learned as a child and taught as a parent is, a “little white lie” is still a lie, the result of which is the destruction of trust.  The reality is, mistruths compound, building one upon another until they become our reality — they become simply, an acceptable way for us to live.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “For lack of a nail, the shoe was lost; lack of a shoe, the horse was lost, and for the lack of a horse, the rider was lost.”  Or, as Sir Walter Scott is remembered for saying, “O, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive.”


It is no secret that I love college football and follow it closely.  The most recent news in this regard being the unsavory behavior and unacceptable acts of spousal abuse, that were known, but ignored by the head coach, Urban Meyer, and the university’s Athletic director.  After dismissing the assistant coach for his actions, the issue became the head coach and whether or not he brushed aside, and then denied knowledge of, his assistant’s actions. Originally, Urban Meyers claimed that he was unaware of this, but the later admitted he did know, but somehow forgot.  Which raises two concerns for me:     

     1) that the serious issue of abuse was not taken seriously

     2) a lie suddenly became “a mistake” and regrettable lapse in judgment.  


The outcome was serious enough to warrant a three game coaching suspension, but not serious enough to get on with the goal of winning!  As Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”  Is it?


We have been sliding down a slippery slope for a while now and it frightens me to think of where it might end.  Are we who we say we are?  Are we about what we profess to be about?  Do we care?  Does it matter?  When truth is no longer truth, where does that take us?  What kind of a future does that create for our children?    


This may be the biggest issue of our generation.  And how we answer, make no mistake, will have ramifications for a long time, maybe even . . . forever.  



Sincerely  In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Keith A. Haemmelmann