As a college professor and theologian, I’m interested in truth. I seek out the truth in spite of myself. I fully realize that we broken humans far too often mistake our own ideologies and prejudices for truth. To paraphrase an important document of my own church, sometimes we humans discover what is true; at other times we simply think we have discovered what’s true. Sometimes we are so focused on a goal, a political agenda, or a partial understanding of the truth that we aren’t really open to learning at all. I honestly try to avoid that pitfall. As a sign of this commitment I’ve actually removed blog posts and Facebook posts when my position has been demonstrated to be false.
In the midst of a search for accuracy in a recent class of graduate students, one of the participants finally asked how to define truth. To be specific, she asked, “How do we define what is true?” I chose my words carefully, and with mindfulness. As I articulated each word I considered whether or not it expressed my intention. Here is what I came up with: Truth is quantifiable. Something can be more true or less true. Truth is judged by how much an idea or proposition actually conforms to reality.
Discovering what is true is not always as easy as it seems. Let’s take the proverbial statement we’ve all heard before: the sky is blue. Yes, it is, that’s true. But the sky is also azul in Spain, bleu in France, and gorm in Ireland. There are many other things that are true about the sky that can be stated … and let’s not forget that sometimes the sky doesn’t appear blue at all! An old Latin proverb proposes that “the one who divides well learns well,” suggesting that the wise among us will reflect on reality in such a way as to allow us to make important distinctions as we get to the truth of the colors that mark the sky. But that doesn’t mean that truth can’t be misrepresented. Just because we’ve identified the complications of a particular topic, that doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as a lie, or deceit, or intentional falsehood. For all the discussions we can have about what makes the sky usually appear blue, there are many things we can say about the sky that simply are not true. It’s not made of meringue, or bleu cheese, and we can’t lasso the stars in order to pull them down and present them to our loved ones.
Let me offer another definition if I may. What is a lie? Here’s a working definition. A lie is an intentional misstatement of truth, a false statement uttered with intent. People don’t lie by accident. They may be mistaken, but they can’t lie accidently because the idea of lying includes intention. People lie for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they lie because they don’t want to accept responsibility or because they fear punishment or rejection. They lie because they fear a loss of esteem or social status, or because it advances the cause of something they want personally or something they want to see accomplished. They lie in order to gain prestige, fame, money or other valuables. Quite often they lie to gain power over others.
Lies are most effectively used with busy people, with those who don’t have the time to confirm the statements being falsified. That, dear readers, is precisely why it’s important to choose as friends and leaders people who possess great character and integrity. If your friends are lying to you, then you need new ones. If your financial advisor is lying to you, then your economic future is probably not as bright as you think it is. If your children are lying, they have something to hide. But what if your political leaders are lying? What if your President is a liar?
Let’s get this out on the table: lying is nothing new when it comes to political gamesmanship. When it becomes a full-time preoccupation, however, a nation is in deep trouble. In a society inspired by democratic values there are only two ways to gain political power. A leader or would-be leader can gain power by courting and securing votes, or by seizing power. Thank God we haven’t faced the second option in the United States (at least not yet).
Too often in our political system, a leader who needs votes secures them not by being truthful about his or her ideas and plans, but by telling various constituencies the things they want to hear. Quite often we voters play along. In the end we get what we deserve, and based on what we’re seeing in Washington DC these days, what we deserve will get worse unless a majority of us come to our senses. That’s probably going to be a tough sell, however, since the number of citizens on the government dole and paying no federal income tax is rising rapidly.
Now let’s talk specifics. If falsehood were a kingdom, Barack Obama would be its king. He has raised lying to a disastrous art form. He is master of the “straw man” argument (falsely misrepresenting your opponent’s position in order to knock it down) and an expert with ad hominem attacks (attacks on persons instead of ideas). Personally, I believe that the word “unpresidential” in the dictionary should include his photograph. His willing assistants in the perpetuation of falsehood include most of the “mainstream” press, the powerful unions that benefit from his spending (especially SEIU), his chosen “green energy” corporations, and those who think that government can print money forever without economic repercussions.
In Obama’s political world, truth is what he says it is. And truth becomes something different depending on who is being talked down to at the moment. When the IRS starts penalizing citizens who haven’t purchased health insurance, that’s not a tax. When the IRS startes penalizing them it is a tax. Do you get it yet? Both statements are true for Obama and his cronies; it depends on who’s listening. The goal of Obamacare is not a single-payer system. Yet it was designed to advance that eventual goal. There will be no death panels, but panels of government officials will be making life-and-death decisions.
Do you want to know the definition of audacity? Here it is: Barack Obama will say anything, and because his radical Marxist-inspired agenda has been embraced by the press and the unions he will get away with it. Everything, even truth, takes a back seat to ideology. The great conservative commentator, Dr. Thomas Sowell, agrees with my assessment of Mr. Obama being a liar of epic proportions.
“If you tell a lie that is big enough, and if you keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Those are the words of a bank clerk who studied romantic literature in graduate school. He was a bright man with a PhD from a fine university. His parents were humble workers in an industrial town. His name was Joseph Goebbels, German propaganda minister during the Second World War.
In a nation that professes democratic values, fooling the people is the primary tool for maintaining power–and for remaking the nation. As Michelle Obama informed us, “Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices; we are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.”
Obama’s propaganda ministers are working eagerly, and he is leading the way. In a nation where power is vested in the people and politicians need them in order to stay in office, anger and division must be raised to the level of a devouring flame. The falsehoods are terrifying. Many are fooled.
Effective propaganda turns the world upside down and changes the color scheme of everything. People who get up and report to work each day after feeding their children and getting them to school become the selfish who have no interest in the plight of the poor. Those who are successful and who employ others so they can care for themselves and their families are greedy, money-hungry capitalists. The business owner who can’t invest in more employees because taxes are so high is now described as mean-spirited and hateful. Those having trouble paying for gasoline are derisively told to check the pressure in their tires and show more concern for the environment. If you wish to prevent voter fraud by requiring some form of identification you are labelled as racist while people hoping to secure our borders are bigots. Economists and politicians who warn us about our national debt are now irresponsible rabble rousers who would hold back the economy. Conservatives who want more personal and economic freedom for everyone are described as backward and out of touch. Even the Supreme Court is threatened and misrepresented. Though charged by the Constitution with a mandate to oversee challenges to the laws enacted by Congress, it is described now by the President as an “unelected group of people” seeking to “overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” Barack Obama, the nation’s biggest bully, learned his lessons well in Chicago; now he tells us that the Supreme Court is a gang of black-robed thugs out to destroy democracy. It is so odd a turn of events as to be unbelievable. Yet it is true.
Here are other examples of the “brave new world” into which Mr. Obama is leading us:
“This is my last election and after my last election I have more flexibility.” (Comment of Barack Obama speaking about our nation’s defensive missile system to the President of Russia, who oddly seems to think that it’s a bad idea that America is able to defend itself.)
“Disguised as [a] deficit-reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly veiled Social Darwinism.” (Barack Obama speaking of GOP congressional plans to cut irresponsible spending before it’s too late and comparing the plan to the type of pseudo-science used to suppress minorities in the past; it was also used by the Nazis in their suppression of European Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and other “less-than-human” nationalities.)
“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.” (Barack Obama, lecturing the Supreme Court in his first State of the Union address as members of that Court sat before him. In response, Justice Samuel Alito could clearly be seen to shake his head, saying “that’s not true.” Alito has not attended another State of the Union address since. In the face of such partisan abuse who could blame him except the ultra-liberals at MSNBC?)
“I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” (Another Obama quotation that sounds good–but fails to mention that we already have a wealth-spreading system in this country called free-market enterprise. What Obama wants is more power for government to take from some and give to others, amounting to seizure and redistribution of wealth rather than spreading it around.)
“Members of Congress have a simple choice to make. They can stand with big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people.” (Obama comment recently made in the Rose Garden at the White House, failing to mention that the federal tax on gasoline is higher than the profit margin for oil companies in the United States.)
“And I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” (Obama warning that if the Supreme Court declares Obamacare to be unconstitutional it will amount to judicial activism. This is so obvious a falsehood as to be laughable. Judicial activism is a product of courts trying to manipulate and rewrite laws, not striking them down due to lack of constitutionality.)
“We’re getting close to reaching universal coverage of health care — full, free health care coverage for all people up to 18 years of age, including cancer coverage. Of the 112 million Mexicans, 106 million will have efficient, effective universal health care coverage. So I would say that I would hope that one of the greatest economies in the world, such as the United States, could follow our example in achieving this, because it was a great thing.” (Recent comment by the President of Mexico after President Obama offered his warning about healthcare to the Supreme Court. If Mexican healthcare is so good, one wonders why so many Mexicans are crossing the border into the US to escape all of that free medical assistance.)
“We believe that the U.S. government’s inability to act promptly and decisively to put in place a national policy related to immigration–attentive to international guarantees related to individual workers’ rights as well as to the rights of trade unions with immigrant members–has given the space to individual states to enact laws that are in flagrant violation of international norms.” (Excerpt from the complaint filed with the United Nations by the Service Employees International Union [SEIU] over state laws to prevent illegal immigration in the United States.)
“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” (Michelle Obama during the campaign of her husband for the presidency, ignoring all the reasons she should have been proud of her country all along: her education, her security against hunger, her freedom to raise her family as she sees fit, the triumph of Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil rights dream, and America’s sacrifices to defend the freedom of Europe in World War II.)
Barack Obama “is not acting presidential. He is behaving in a way designed in my opinion to divide us, to make us look at each other with skepticism, with suspicion. That is the end of America as we know it. The destruction he is inflicting by his behavior will carry on long after we settle the debt limit.” (Analysis of Kenneth Langone, former director of the New York Stock Exchange.)
“I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.” (Peggy Joseph, an Obama supporter, a few days before her idol was elected President.)
The political world of Barack Obama depends upon a nation divided along racial and economic lines. It’s the only tool in his re-election tool box. He panders to those who believe America to be a place where only the greedy find success, and to those who want to find someone else to pay for their education, their housing, and their birth control. If his lies are not fully defeated in November, the prediction of Karl Marx may come true. Democracy may well be the beginning stage of socialism.