Truth, balance and free speech

One of the “things” I often go on about in my writings is truth. I reckon being beholden to the truth is one of the important things, maybe the most, that should characterize humankind. Sadly, I reckon most people are more beholden to apathy and prejudice such that truth too often does not get a look in and instead lies are accepted uncritically, and those that manipulate the truth go unchallenged. Linked to the truth is the notion of balance. It is something the Bible talks about as being important and it is not just weights and measures. We all see the world differently, based on our beliefs, experience, knowledge etc. but if we are to give truth a fair crack of the whip we need to recognize that and make some attempt to see these other perspectives in order to come to a fully rounded view, and it should be more than intellectual and one that inclines us to action. Then there is the biggie of the hour – free speech. Arguably, it has ever been thus and the fact we have a measure of free speech is because people before us have sacrificed to make it so, and yet today with political correctness holding sway we are in danger of losing it altogether. Can we say what we think without being punished? It often seems not. And when does protecting the public trump protecting free speech, who decides, on what basis?

All these things and more have been churning around in my mind along with the notion to what extent I should get off my high horse on these matters and focus on my particular calling – that as a gospel preaching, community activist. It has been quite evident since I entered the blogosphere, although it began long before that, speaking the truth, at least as I have understood it, trying to be balanced i.e. seeing the other persons viewpoint and exercising my right of free speech does have consequences. For example, the other platform where I engage in this sort of activity, has seen a number take offense at what I have had to say and I have wondered if I should have spent more time praying and doing what needs doing rather than shooting off my big mouth and irritating people who if I were wise I would try to keep on my side. Moreover, I find that putting one’s head above the parapet to defend truth is not conducive to having a quiet life, which is why not many opt to do so.

I got thinking about these things when I listened to the BBC Today program on how we can go about combating fake news. The presenter pointed out this was a term coined by President Trump toward those who had the temerity to scrutinize him. This automatically put my back up given another reason for using this term was that some news outlets, including CNN who was interviewed in this piece, were indeed fake. One of my news feeds today which I know will be unpopular with some had the title: “The premiere of Voices of the Silenced has been banned from the venue in London”. When checking the relevant Facebook page I read: “Using the lenses of personal experience, historical perspective, scientific understanding and Biblical teachings, this documentary feature film challenges the sexual politics or gender mainstreaming in western society. It offers an alternative narrative through the stories of men and women moving out of homosexual practices and feelings, including the perspectives of their therapists and supporters. It argues for the rights and freedoms of those who reject the idea that homosexuality is inborn, and unchangeable”. Given there has been many examples of shutting up and down those presenting ideas that give offence, and these days this includes challenging notions like Islam is a religion of peace and immigrants from Muslim countries pose no threat to there being other gender identities beside male and female, what I heard on the BBC and read in my newsfeed came as no surprise.

We are in grave danger today of truth being suppressed, imbalance becoming the norm (and this occurs as much among conservatives as liberals and also includes folk from my own theological stable) and of free speech being shut down by the unqualified and unscrupulous. As an old dodderer on the way out, I daresay I will be quietly ignored and patronized for pointing these things out, but I fear for the next generation who either will be brainwashed into accepting this BS or shut up/down for challenging it. I am glad that many I can look up to for doing the latter, led by those who have been martyred for keeping the faith. One recently discovered member from the land of the swamp that has given me heart, and there are others too, is Congressman Trey Gowdy, best known for lifting the lid off the Benghazi cover up. Not only is he a legal man who follows a blind lady carrying scales of justice who, while he is particular in his probing lines of questioning, does so winsomely. Because his focus is on establishing the truth beyond all doubt, he is more circumspect in his pronouncements than most, which can be frustrating when holding a particular view but is often to his credit.

If I have a final word of wisdom, it is to pursue truth and maintain balance, even when  tempted to join the apathetic, prejudiced and hedonistic masses who put little store on such matters. Remember, while the reward is great so also is the cost. We need to be humble. Sometimes we may be wrong; all times we don’t know everything. As for free speech, while I realize its importance, I see we are in grave danger of losing it. As I look around at happenings around the world with a degree of consternation, I am glad I serve the one who said “I am the Truth”, who is full of grace and truth, who was nailed to the cross for standing for the truth but vindicated by rising from the dead and becoming the Saviour of the world. He calls us to follow Him and tells us we can know the truth and that it will set us free.

Update 09/02/2018: Almost every day I see further examples of truth twisted, imbalance and free speech stifled such that little surprises me. This video watched today is yet one more example: “Volunteer Chaplain blocked from prison in move to wipe out Christian witness“. We are indeed in a culture war!

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