|The right to know the truth|
|Written by Tom Hobson|
Imagine a Super Bowl where the entire game is dictated, not by what actually happens on the field, but by the referees. Or imagine a courtroom where no attempt is made by the judge or the jury to determine the facts of the case.
Truth matters, immensely. Issues of truth, truth that is often in dispute, have a huge impact on our lives.
Truth and justice are inseparably linked. We cannot have justice, in the courtroom or anywhere else, unless we can establish what the truth is in any given situation. And we live in an age where truth is as hard to nail down as Jell-O, an age where people think that truth is whatever is “true for me,” or that truth is simply a product of whoever holds the shotgun or whoever can shout the loudest, lobby the longest or manufacture the most sympathy. Without truth, forget about justice – power is the only game in town.
Truth can be extremely hard to find, or at least hard to recognize when we find it. In a case like Herman Cain versus his accuser, how do we figure out who’s telling the truth? The FHA is accused of carrying $54 billion more in losses than it can withstand. The FHA says it’s not true. How do we know whom to believe? We talk about how big is the federal debt, but we’re just taking somebody’s word for it. (I haven’t personally counted the money!) We even debate the truth about the health care law, which is right there on the Internet, but it’s so big, who’s actually read it?
Until lately, society has been relying heavily on science to nail down truth for us. What’s scary is that now we’re hearing more and more reports of scientists faking their data. Decisions with huge price tags hang on data that is wide open to manipulation. Whatever the truth may be where science itself is in dispute, truth matters!
What does God say about the connection between truth and justice? In the Book of the Covenant, God says: Don’t use falsehood as a tool of economic violence (Exod 23:1-2, which refers to “a witness that does violence”). Don’t let the crowd fool you into thinking that truth and justice can be calculated by the numbers (Exod 23:2, “Do not follow a multitude to do evil”). Don’t discriminate, either in favor of or against the poor (Exod 23:3, 6). And don’t take gifts of any kind that blind you to issues of truth and justice (Exod 23:8).
Justice should not be based on class warfare of either kind. Because the poor could rarely if ever leverage enough clout to obtain justice in the Biblical world, it was the duty of the righteous to come to their defense. Yet the Law of Moses also warns against the opposite danger. Discrimination against the poor can end up being replaced by reverse discrimination, which is what I call equal injustice under law.
Truth matters, immensely! People deserve truthful information about matters that critically affect their lives, like what’s in the food they eat and the water they drink, or how’s their money being handled by Social Security or the Federal Reserve, or who exactly are these people we elect to office.
I believe our news media have been guilty of both malpractice and conflict of interest by obstructing the public’s right to know. The dangers of a one-party press are as bad as the dangers of one-party rule. Where’s the accountability? And what happens to truth in such a scenario? Justice depends on an informed electorate. How else are we supposed to know whom we are electing, or to know good policy from bad?
How do we figure out which sources of information to trust in today’s world? I watch over time to see: who gives me only half the story? Who has to backtrack the least when all the facts come out? Who ends up having to admit more of what the other side was saying all along?
I believe you could cut the talk radio audience by half or more, if you could show them a convincing alternative where they feel satisfied that they are getting the whole story on the news, with less surprises of “Nobody told me that – that throws a completely different light on the subject!”
Truth matters, immensely! It makes a huge difference in our lives, whether the issues are threats to our health, threats to our money, threats to justice for us all, threats to our environment, or threats to our nation’s survival. Truth is the only way we can establish justice, the only way we can right the wrongs in this world. And God is the only one who knows the whole story. Only God knows the score. Only God always knows whose case is just.
May God help us to recognize the truth that we need to know to survive in this world. May God help us to put honest truth into practice, and to ruthlessly root out lies, in order to make this a more just world.
TOM HOBSON of Belleville, Ill., a PC(USA) pastor for 28 years, is currently serving at First Church in Herrin, Ill and as adjunct professor at Morthland College, West Frankfort, Ill.