St. Anthony the Great, from Egypt, lived during the third and fourth centuries. One of the “Desert Fathers,” Anthony seems to have been a fairly quotable guy. My favorite: “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.'”
Apparently every year, the Oxford Dictionaries declare an international word of the year. They look at words that are trending, especially in media, and, based on those statistics and other factors, make a final decision. Their 2016 international word of the year was “post-truth.”
That’s a scary thought isn’t it? If we are indeed post-truth, then truth no longer makes any difference in our society. Whether or not you or I like it, it’s a fact for much of our culture. And yet the very idea that I just said “it’s a fact” is a declaration of truth. What a muddle-headed society we have become. Men have gone mad.
If we are post-truth, then why the uproar about fake news stories? If there is no absolute truth — if all truth is relative — then who cares whether the news media reports facts or just makes stuff up? I mean, really, let’s be honest. (Oh wait. To be honest means we’d have to be truth-ful, so maybe we shouldn’t go there.)
But post-truth means you can identify as whatever you want to, regardless of the facts. (Uh oh. There’s that truth-ful word again.) You want to be a different race or a different gender, go ahead. Don’t worry about truth. We’re past that stuff. You want to identify as a millionaire and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars you don’t have? Go for it. If truth is gone, I can’t see that the government has any right to prosecute you.
If you think it through, there is no end to the possibilities.
But there’s the rub. All of those possibilities are based on … wait, what’s the opposite of truth? (I’m not sure it’s safe to say that 3-letter word today.)
Amazing! In a single lifetime, we have gone from being a culture where telling the truth was a virtue, to one where — apparently — truth doesn’t even exist.
But here’s a little, well-kept secret for you: Truth still does exist, even if people won’t admit it. Thank God! Be careful though. Anthony the Great was right.