I confess that I am one of those who has found themselves dragged willingly down rabbit holes purporting to be news, but clearly marked “Trump”, “Johnson” and more recently “Dorries”.
Maybe I’m looking for reassurance. That those who are prepared to use lies to further their own agendas are going to be found out and something like a normal service can be resumed. I suspect that following the ludicrous trail to its ultimate destination is fuelled by my own deep longing for the corrupt ecosystem liars have created to come crashing down, as I believe every illusion based on lies must eventually do.
I think I feel real fear in these bizarre days when the values I consider essential markings on my own moral compass are no longer common currency within the public realm. The cult of personality that promotes people whose nastiness and depravity are evident to all is overwhelming systems that were devised within eras in which our forebears believed certain standards of truth and decency were unquestionable norms. They had been unable to imagine days like these, and so thought it unnecessary to put boundaries in place to guard against the kind of future that is our present reality.
But these things have happened before, and they will happen again. There is no ideal past and no assured future. Stability is fragile and it always has been. George Orwell thought it would be necessary to deprive the population of its bearings by means of Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth in order to gain and retain power over a whole population. He was wrong. It is the human preference for simple answers and a propensity to follow confident leaders who know the majority will put tribe before truth that makes us vulnerable. Some people seem hard-wired to exploit human vulnerability. And we let them get away with it. For a season.
So I ask myself what fuels the awareness of liars and charlatans in their belief they can get away with it. And I’m in good company. Our Judeo-Christian scriptures offer us psalms and stories that record just the same human questions I am obsessing over. And as I ponder these, I realise that my deeply disturbed visceral feelings exist only because I am totally bought into the wisdom of Jesus’ teachings which are beautifully, but enigmatically, recorded in the Sermon on the Mount.
Just because I consider them wise, it does not mean others do. In fact, the inverted logic some of Jesus’ most memorable statements are founded upon virtually assures us that most people will not understand, agree and follow them. Jesus was the exact opposite of a 21st Century politician or social media influencer, which might be why his words have endured.
So, my chosen truth has become such a deep part of who I am, and it renders me confused as I try to understand how any other ways of living could be better. So my challenge is to discover how I can hold on to values I consider both self-evident and inherently wise in a world such as it is without becoming angry, intolerant or even mentally ill.
More about that in my second post.