I haven”t posted a blog for several weeks. I just felt as if I was repeating myself using different words week after week to describe Trump and his troubling behavior. Anyone who doesn’t know who and what he is by now is just consciously ignoring the obvious. I decided to try to change my perspective and take it up to about 35,000 feet. I wanted to get out of the weeds of daily tweets and endless analysis. The reality is, however, that the world from up above is perhaps, more troubling than the world of the weeds.
The view from above shows an America that is fractured and fragmented. A nation broken into little groups that protect their turf at all costs. The problem is that truth is the victim here. We have begun to accept the fact that truth is like a piece of clay that can be molded and shaped as we wish. It seems as if truth is no longer an absolute. It is simply a tool, a commodity, to be utilized as we wish to protect our turf
I’m not so naive as to think that truth has always been safe from this corruption. We can all point to times and places in America when truth was victimized. However, this kind of corruption was never normalized. It had a beginning and an end. It never became acceptable to the many. However, I fear that the reality of today is that the fungibility of truth has become normalized and accepted. The assertion of “Fake News” has become a part of our reality. When the news outlets that we have come to trust are accused of being “Fake News” what should we think? There are many who believe that such media outlets as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, MSNBC, CNN, CBS and ABC are all purveyors of Fake News. Even though it is clear, by any objective measure, that the real purveyors of “Fake News” are Fox News, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and most importantly the Trump Administration that refers to it as “alternative facts”. While it is true that “Fake News” has always existed, it used to be easier to spot, for example at the checkout stand at the supermarket. But today it is dressed up to look and sound like the real thing and appears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. How can we find the truth? How could it be that there are multiple truths? Furthermore, how can it be that the truth changes from one moment to the next?
It appears that truth has become a fungible commodity to our government, our media and our business community. It is unconscionable that we live in a time when Americans need to question everything that they read, hear and see. I’m not talking about healthy debate over policy differences. I’m talking about questioning the facts that are presented as truth. When this happens, each group, depending on their preexisting political, cultural and social leanings, accepts that truth which supports their reality. Our society has become tribal. Each tribe working to perpetuate its truth. As I stated above, truth is perceived as a tool that can be molded into whatever shape that will support the already established belief system of the tribe. Truth isn’t an absolute. It isn’t based on irrefutable facts, because all facts are questioned and challenged and discarded if they don’t fit the belief system of the tribe.
As Americans lose trust in their institutions, the future of America as a beacon of truth and hope becomes questionable. The stability of America’s institutions and its democracy are dependent on trust and truth. When Americans stop trusting the honesty of their leaders and the truth of their media where can they turn? Where can they find truth? Unfortunately, this desperation for truth has awakened a whole new industry of purveyors of lies. Finding the truth has become more difficult than ever. But if Americans don’t break the shackles of tribal restraints and move together to demand the fact-based truth, we will continue to go down the dangerous path of tribalism and destruction.