April 3, 2015

Truth is Reality Unblurred and Unfalsified

By Donald G. Mashburn

For decades Brian Williams the NBC news anchor had been accepted as a reliable voice for many, until he got bit recently by the “serpent of deceit” and was exposed for having embellished accounts of his reporting in Iraq.

Other prominent newspersons have been caught ‘stretching the truth” but those indiscretions often involved hanging a little extra “tinsel” on their credentials or resume, or “borrowing” for their own use too much of someone else’s story without crediting the source, as good journalism ethics require.

From many reports, Williams’ apparently took an uneventful helicopter trip in Iraq, traveling the same general route of another helicopter that considerably earlier had been fired upon. Williams learned that the earlier helicopter had been fired upon from the ground, and for reasons known only to Williams, he blew it up into a “war story” that the helicopter in which he was being transported came under fire.

There are reports that over time Williams embellished the story more and more, presumably to make the war flight, and Williams, more “interesting.”

To Williams’s credit, he admitted he embellished the story, and some critics claim he began “telling tall tales” of his exposure to danger in Iraq. But what is interesting to many observers, is the reaction of others in the media to the idea of telling lies while supposedly reporting the news.

Some have suggested Williams began to stretch the truth and add details that had no basis in fact, so that his numerous visits to late-night talk shows would sound more interesting, and if they made Brian Williams also sound more interesting, that didn’t hurt anything. But it ended up hurting Williams a lot, in reputation, money, and possibly future earning power.

Implying that we are all prone to lying, Professor Bob Thompson, of Syracuse University, made a rather broad claim regarding the veracity of people in general, when he said, quoting from an Associated Press article, “Any human being who tells you they [sic] have never embellished their [sic] own life story is probably lying.” He cited some examples, showing that stories sort of naturally get expanded and colored over time and repetitions.

How the professor can claim to know how “any human being” might relate events in his story is a mystery, and he reveals a rather low opinion of people’s ability to recount their life event with accuracy, or even with modesty that minimizes certain accomplishments.

The AP article also touched on the Hillary Rodham Clinton claim in her 2008 presidential campaign how she and her party landed under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996, a “memory that turned out to be untrue,” the AP writer wrote. The main problem was that when Clinton and her party landed in Bosnia their arrival was televised. And the television cameras showed Hillary being greeted by waiting dignitaries, and no one was dodging bullets, nor was there any sniper fire,

The friendly Clinton media conveniently forgot the event and Clinton escaped the “liar” label for then, as she did so many times during the Rose law firm, cattle futures, and Madison Savings and Loan affairs of the 1990s.

Others, especially politicians, are prone to “misspeak,” exaggerate, or lie outright, depending on the need. Vice President Joe Biden is often the “victim” of faulty recall.

This observer thinks that the liberal media, in trying to explain Williams’ untruthfulness, commit “journalistic sins” as bad or worse than the embellishments by Williams. The AP’s Meghan Barr went a bit overboard when she wrote, “Williams was suspended … by the network for six months for stretching the truth … but he’s far from alone.”

Her lame explanation for dishonesty shows just how far journalism, and perhaps our modern society, has sunk into the Falsity Abyss.

The exposure of Williams’ untruthfulness resulted in NBC News suspending him for six months without pay, and Williams apologizing to his employer, his viewers and anyone else watching.

Unfortunately, those who tried to gloss over the news anchor’s indiscretions, and explain that when it comes to lying, “Everybody does it,” have yet to apologize for their defense of the indefensible.

Saying that an untruthful person is “far from alone,” in no way justifies the untruth. Our behavior should be guided by our own character and values, not by what others say or do.

*****

“Speak each man the truth to his neighbor” (Zechariah 8:16 – NKJV)

“(T)hat we should no longer be children tossed to and fro … but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ” (Ephesians 4:14,15)

Truth is reality, examined up close so that its color, shape and identity are not blurred by the mists of time, or the haze of distance, or the fog of a faulty memory – Donald G. Mashburn

*****

On Truth, Love and Children

by Donald G. Mashburn

Once he left office, former President Bill Clinton kept busy on the speaking circuit. Once in speaking to a Jewish audience, he said he would “personally … grab a rifle and fight and die” if Iraq invades Israel. The claim drew an editorial that said, “Clinton still has trouble with the truth,” as the commentator recalled Clinton’s avoidance of the draft, and his infamous letter to Col. Holmes to the effect that he, Clinton, had “a loathing for the military.”

The Commentator went on to detail other occasions on which Clinton was shown to have been untruthful. The truth is, mankind has had trouble with the truth since Cain lied to the Lord about the whereabouts of his dead brother, Abel.

Many centuries later, when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, He said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate then asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38).

Pilate’s question is one all of us must deal with at some time. Truth and its discovery have illuminated mankind’s brightest moments; its suppression has accompanied the darkest. The search for truth and attempts to define it have occupied some of history’s brainiest and most eloquent.

No less a wordsmith than John Keats, in “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That’s all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Keats’s tidy definition of truth — or beauty, which is it? — suited him, but suffers from over-simplification. After all, truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.

If asked, “What is truth?” most of us could come up with an answer that’s reasonable to us. But a definition of truth that will please everybody is difficult. We wander easily into circular reasoning, trying to define truth using popular definitions for truth.

And although reason demands a definition of truth in terms we can understand, reason also tells us that truth is immeasurable, or “unbarrelable,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it.

So we end up “exploring” for truth, looking for signs of genuineness, honesty, and the quality of being true in all similar circumstances.

In the adult world, our exploration yields more dry holes than we like. But in the world of children, we hit a gusher every time a young child looks to us for affection or help.

If you want to see truth, look in the face of a young child. For the sincere love and trust lighting a child’s face, highlights truth in its simplest and purest form.

Our Creator chose the face of a child as the perfect canvas on which He paints expressions of trust and love, in natural colors not tinted by prejudice, hatred or hypocrisy.

A child loves without condition, without deception. A child truly thinks, truly loves, and gives that love without guile or price. No pretense or fakery, here. Only love, flourishing in its natural habitat: the heart, mind and face of a child. Unsullied by pretense or deception, a child’s love by its very nature is truth undisguised.

It’s this beautifully non-contradictory expression of truth in a child’s love, devoid of any deception or falseness that helps us to realize what gifts of God children are!

Jesus gave us the beauty of a child’s love and trust as a model, when He said, “Assuredly, … whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:17 NKJV). Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

To receive the Kingdom of God, we must have a child’s sincere trust. To inherit the Kingdom, our trust must be in Truth, Jesus Himself.

We are also reminded that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 4:16, KJV). It follows that God is the source of both love and truth. These two, love and truth, are of God, and both should be the trademarks of those who would be called Children of God.

In the sincere, uncontrived love of a child, truth and love are displayed in their best forms. Each is complete, yet each is interwoven with, and supported and confirmed by, the other. The beauty of which Keats wrote is the product of truth and love, not a synonym for truth.

A child’s love needs no translation. Explaining truth is as easy as Augustus McCrae’s explanation of his Latin motto in Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove,” “It just says itself.”

Political speeches ain’t all bad; it’s kinda relaxin’ to take a break from rational thinking.

Before you vote next year, check the candidate’s lie-abilities.

A man’s actions are the best indicator you can find for his character.

She had that wide-eyed look as if she had been scared, and expected to be again.

When his get up and go got up and went, no one could tell the difference.

A wise listener has never heard the story before.

Live so that your space is brightened by your presence, not by your leaving it.

It’s not the swaying of the tree that makes the wind sing through its branches.

Others may damage your reputation, but they can’t damage your character.

Be forceful in praise, gentle in blame.

All grief can be healed, except in one who still hurts from the loss of a loved one.

You can often spot a wise man when skeptics and trash talkers criticize him.

You’ll be more popular if you’re willing to be taught things you already know.

Being good for something always grades better in life than trying to appear good.

It’s not the barking of the dog that pulls the wagon.

He insisted he wasn’t nervous, just quick.

Ever wonder how many slick politicians got that way from having their palms greased by lobbyists?

I can live for a week on a kind word – two or three times as long if it’s sincere.

Let the lines in your face be laughter lines not grief grooves or temper tracks.

Memories are the currency that buys visits to the people and places we’ve known and loved in the past.

Praise strongly, blame gently.

Jesus lived a life and died a death we can’t, to assure us life beyond our death.

To trust in Jesus Christ is to give up what we can’t keep for something eternally precious we can’t lose.

Don’t wait to be prodded to do a good thing; be your own prod.

Live as if it’s your last day, love and learn as if you expect to live to be a hundred.

The door to achievement opens to those with the curiosity to turn the knob.