Truth will tri­umph — but not with­out our help

It’s im­por­tant to an­a­lyze and dig. Don’t be swayed by loud TV voices

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - GERRY CHIDIAC Gerry Chidiac is an award-win­ning high school teacher spe­cial­iz­ing in lan­guages, geno­cide stud­ies and work with at-risk stu­dents. Dis­trib­uted by Troy Me­dia

We need to be vig­i­lant me­dia con­sumers. It’s im­por­tant to take the time to check the de­tails we’re told.

“Truth­ful­ness alone con­sti­tutes the spir­i­tual dis­ci­pline of the Kali Yuga,” the Hindu tell us.

As we study the be­liefs of our sis­ters and broth­ers, we re­al­ize how much we have in com­mon — and how univer­sal wis­dom al­ways points to truth.

The Kali Yuga, the age of the god­dess Kali, is a time of death and de­struc­tion, but also a time of re­birth and re­newal. As we em­brace the truth of hu­man­ity’s most hor­rific ac­tions, hate­ful lies lose their power. We be­come en­light­ened and the path to a bet­ter world be­comes clear.

This can be seen very clearly when we study geno­cide. Those who cre­ate con­flict al­ways teach that there’s an “us” and a “them.” The geno­ci­dal mes­sage is: “They are a threat to us. Their ways must be de­stroyed. They must be de­stroyed.”

When we ac­tu­ally look at the words of those who preach hate, they of­ten seem lu­di­crous.

In dis­cussing her first re­ac­tion to “Hutu Power” rhetoric on the ra­dio, Rwan­dan geno­cide sur­vivor Im­mac­ulee Iliba­g­iza said, “The broad­casts were so ridicu­lously ju­ve­nile that they were al­most funny. It is hard to be­lieve that any­one could take the in­fan­tile and out­landish threats se­ri­ously.”

Even more fright­en­ing are lies dis­guised as in­tel­lec­tual dis­course. His­to­rian Deb­o­rah Lip­stadt was sued for li­bel by his­tor­i­cal writer and Holo­caust de­nier David Irv­ing for claims she made in her book, Deny­ing the Holo­caust: The Grow­ing As­sault on Truth and Mem­ory. In a Bri­tish court, Lip­stadt had to demon­strate how the sup­posed “re­search” Irv­ing had done was a pur­pose­ful ma­nip­u­la­tion of facts. Names, dates and other de­tails were changed in the sources he cited in or­der to make his case. Lip­stadt was even­tu­ally ex­on­er­ated by the court and Irv­ing was ex­posed.

Truth re­mains un­der as­sault. Sci­en­tific re­search, for ex­am­ple, has pre­sented ir­refutable ev­i­dence of global warm­ing. Amer­i­can in­tel­lec­tual Noam Chom­sky has thus re­ferred to the Repub­li­can party as “the most dan­ger­ous or­ga­ni­za­tion in hu­man his­tory.” He points out that to gain fos­sil-fuel in­dus­try sup­port, the Repub­li­cans have put hu­man sur­vival in jeop­ardy, by deny­ing the truth of cli­mate change and even pass­ing poli­cies that ac­cel­er­ate the process.

Fake news has taken on a life of its own. Some cur­rent af­fairs tele­vi­sion pro­grams are hosted by peo­ple who ap­pear to be­lieve that when they speak loudly and em­phat­i­cally, any­thing they say be­comes truth. Those who wish to prop­a­gate lies have learned that if you re­peat a mes­sage over and over, peo­ple be­gin to ac­cept it as truth.

We need to be vig­i­lant me­dia con­sumers. It’s im­por­tant to take the time to check the de­tails we’re told. It’s also very clear that teach­ing crit­i­cal think­ing in our schools is even more vi­tal now.

We need to re­mem­ber that truth is pow­er­ful. His­tory proves that truth may be masked but it will al­ways re­veal it­self.

Truth does set us free. When we em­brace it, we can clearly see the wrongs that have been done and the chal­lenge of heal­ing that lies be­fore us.

Those who hold fast to lies end up de­stroy­ing them­selves. Look at Adolf Hitler and other cruel dic­ta­tors. So what can we do to heal the world? By be­ing aware and liv­ing with in­tegrity, we chal­lenge our lead­ers to do the same. We’re a pow­er­ful force, work­ing to­gether with truth, lead­ing our world into peace and en­light­en­ment.

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