• 2020: A Fitting Year to Restore Clear Vision or Give In to ‘Veritopia’

    Surge Summary: America is facing two problems today: an unreliable source of “facts” (“Fake News”) and a refusal by hearers to accept facts/news that is no to their liking. The survival of America as founded is impossible if these two factors don’t change.

    by Nathan Clark

    As the title implies, our nation is in dire need of a good pair of glasses.  Our visual acuity regarding the facts of life has become distorted and murky, and the cause is not limited to some external force or malaise.  No, this impairment is also self-inflicted – let’s coin a term and call it veritopia, or the inability (or unwillingness) to see the truth.

    A substantial percentage of Americans have willfully rejected and parsed actual reality for any contorted interpretation that suits their personal and collective agendas.  The Garfield joke used to be ‘I’m not overweight – I’m undertall!’  Humorous when applied to a cartoon strip about a chubby cat, but absolutely fatal when applied to the lives of those to whom a representative republic is entrusted.

    Our Founders knew that an informed, honest and responsible populace is critically essential to sustain our form of government.  The role of a free press is the seminal function of supplying information (facts) to that populace, so we can give thoughtful consideration to the issues and make INFORMED decisions.  Newspapers and programs used to have Editorial pages or segments, where Opinion was clearly identified as such, and segregated from the news, or facts.  It is entirely acceptable for newspapers or networks to present an opinion on the facts, provided they don’t manipulate the facts themselves.

    Somewhere in the last 40 years or so, the media industry intentionally blurred the lines between reporting and editorializing, taking a page from the despotic dictators of the 20th century and transforming ‘news’ into propaganda.  Influence is power, and the Fourth Estate wanted its piece of the power pie.  This has progressed to the current state of media manipulation and even fabrication of information, in a blatant attempt to control public opinion.  In a world where information travels globally in microseconds and can be altered by high-tech manipulation, we are at a historic crossroads in dire need of fact-checking, and reliable sources of those facts.  We need to have 20/20 vision regarding the complex issues we face hourly.

    The late great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts.”  Second American president John Adams put it this way, “Fact are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  This statement was made by a man whose very life was threatened by the British Empire’s interpretation of the facts, and he understood upon pain of death the importance of escaping the clutches of such abusive power.

    So, we need reliable data, or at least a means to try and sift it from the information we are given.  Immediately following that, we need reliable receptors with which to receive and process that data.  This is the other half of the veritopia problem.  We are much more intentional now about what facts we ‘choose’ to accept.  All too frequently, we apply the filter of which facts fit our narrative, or our own preformed paradigm of belief.  This second potential distortion of the truth is far more dangerous than the first.

    We court disaster when we choose to reject facts and replace them with fallacies that better suit our agenda.  Facts are not only stubborn things, but they can also be inconvenient, unflattering and convicting things.  Sometimes they contradict our world view.  We don’t like that, so we are left with a choice; either face the fact and deal with it, or reject it and choose to believe an unsupportable alternative.  This second choice is called an absurdity, and these have sprung up all over the landscape.  The fact that Fake News is a reality underscores this point.

    It is a fact when someone receives a cancer diagnosis.  That information is unnuanced, and carries no agenda.  It just is.  The recipient of that news may react in a variety of ways, from denial (refusal to accept/confront the truth), acquiescence, or some modified reaction in between.  Rejecting that fact because it is unwanted changes nothing about its existence, but will certainly carry significant consequences.

    In a free society, responses to facts and reality can and should be open to debate and broad interpretation, but the facts themselves cannot be.  The truth is not some token to be toyed with in games of political brinkmanship…yet that is what is has become.  The general public no longer trusts the mainstream media, as the shuttering of hundreds of newspapers around the country attests to.  For too long the major media has engaged in distortions, omissions and outright fabrications of events in an attempt to shape public opinion (and policy), rather than report on the facts.  ‘The News’ hasn’t been the news for decades, now that ‘activist journalism’ has almost completely driven objective journalism from the landscape.

    “In war, truth is the first casualty”, wrote Greek philosopher Aeschylus.  This has always been true, as wars are fought and paid in blood by footsoldiers, directed by people many ranks above them in society, for purposes with which the soldiers may be in strong disagreement if they knew.  Our society is locked in a culture war, where true agendas are obfuscated beneath moral canards and ‘virtue signalling’.  These actual agendas may be just, or they may be completely vile, but the ability to see the issue clearly is the only means by which we can hope to make the right decisions.  It is becoming increasingly impossible to engage in meaningful dialogue about the best way to deal with issues, when the truth is treated as ‘relative’.  I heard a young woman on live tv who, when confronted by a reporter with a total factual repudiation of an absurd statement she had just made, said “Well, this is MY truth!”

    My prayer for this precious, failing experiment in self-governance we call America, is that we will look truth full in the face, learn to sift it out and absorb it with clear eyes and a courageous heart.  No less than Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth; and the truth will set you free.’ May we be restored to 20/20 vision about the truth in 2020.

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.

    Image: Adapted from: Image by USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay 

    Nathan Clark is a conservative commentator who resides with his wife in New Hampshire. He is passionate about preserving the vision of our nation’s Founders and advancing those tried and true principles deep into America’s future. His interests range broadly from flyfishing, cooking and shooting to pro sports, gardening, live music and fine-scale modeling.


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