Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Who Cares About Truth?

A small lie can lead to war. Not by itself, but by the slow build-up of hateful rhetoric. One person makes an unsubstantiated assertion – for example, that a pizza parlor in Washington, DC is housing a pedophile operation run by a candidate for the US presidency. The lie spreads.

Someone on the other side believes it and decides to act, so he shows up with a gun to save the innocent children and fires a shot or two before realizing that he was wrong. A congressional candidate in Wisconsin (running against Paul Ryan) still believes this idiocy.

A candidate turned president lies about seemingly everything, calling Hispanic immigrants rapists and drug dealers. He pushes the idea that his predecessor was born in Africa and therefore not a legitimate president, buttressing his followers’ beliefs that the system is rigged against them.

He continues to assert that 5 million illegal votes were cast – all against him – despite zero evidence, because his ego demands feeding. Both his words and his actions suggest that women are less than human, objects to be desired or reviled, not equal to men of import, except perhaps his darling eldest daughter.

On the other side, a candidate says that you can put half her opponent’s supporters in a basket of deplorables, further entrenching those deplorables’ viewpoints that they’re under assault, and instilling in her supporters the notion that his followers had something wrong with them. Everyone who voted for him must be a racist, misogynist bully. It can’t be that they just didn’t trust her.

Both sides feel like they’re being attacked, like their very way of life is eroding. And it doesn’t help that we now have essentially instantaneous communication. So whenever a hateful comment gets posted, and then re-posted, it zooms around the world quickly.

Lies spread, especially when they seem believable, when they promote the idea that we are right, that our tribe is in fact under attack by those others, those lesser human beings, whether they be black or white or male or female or Muslim or Jew or gay or whatever.

So we fight back.

Fewer good jobs? Somebody says it must be the fault of foreigners coming in to take them away. It can’t be the system because the system worked for generations. It must be immigrants. And people latch onto that myth because it has the feel of truth even though it isn’t true for 95+ percent of the population.

There’s a certain freedom in spewing certitudes with your phone or tablet. And if someone calls you out for lying, you just scream louder, repeating yourself over and over until the other side gives up trying to reason with you, at which point you claim you’ve won because they surrendered. So take that.

Truth is what we believe it is, what we say it is. Facts can be twisted, subverted. We don’t play that game anymore of falling victim to elitist facts. We decide what truth is, and if you don’t like it, get the hell out of our city, county, state, country.

Compromise becomes a dirty word. Never surrender becomes the battle cry of all. And we swirl around the bowl, slowly sinking into the waste of hatred, riding the log of pride into the sewer.

book 1 in the Susquehanna Virus series

book 1 in the Susquehanna Virus series

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