Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 international word of the year: post-truth
In my growing up years, truth was a highly valued commodity. I remember being punished more than once by a parent or a teacher for attempting to alter or bypass this sacred principle. I soon learned that although telling the truth could be painful, not telling the truth was painful also.
In this new “post-truth” era, things are different. Truth is no longer valued, in fact it has become inconvenient, irrelevant, and downright bothersome. It is now unfashionable to entertain the complexity of things or to stick with the facts. We have become prisoners to the ease of a quick answer and the thrill of being emotionally charged. Lies parade as truth and we bow in worship.
In contrast to this era of post-truth, there was a man who lived from 1869-1948. His name was Mahatma Gandhi, and he dedicated his whole life to discovering truth rather than avoiding it. “Truth”, he said, “is God”, and it has its own power, a force he called Satyagraha. Gandhi told us that the way to seek truth was through nonviolence, through studying and learning from ones own life, through facing ones own demons, and by being as humble and lowly as a speck of dust.
There are those who tweet lies in the middle of the night arrogantly seeking to define truth. And then there was Gandhi who humbly sought to serve truth, not define it.
There are those who fight and kill for their small truth. And then there was Gandhi who respectfully dialogued with his opponents in the hope that no one would be harmed.
None of us can ever hope to hold or know the immensity of truth. But in a time where lies are creating untold suffering for the earth and its inhabitants, we can, like Gandhi, become humble seekers of truth and valiant defenders of its power and complex simplicity. Gandhi helped show us the way.