In Gameweek 14 of the English Premier League, the teams and the football association decided to show ‘support’ for the cause of gay rights. Several clubs added rainbow filters to their logos and this expectedly created a lot of debate. One comment caught my attention. Referring to the voices calling for separation of football and ‘politics’, a fan commented; “why don’t these bigots allow everyone to have the freedom to love”.
I wrote previously about the importance of making sure there’s unity regarding the meaning of words. Following from the article, for someone to use the word freedom in such a manner indicates a legendary level of carelessness.
These patterns of thought emerge from constructs and experiences that color and shape the way in which we view the world and they can emerge in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes we simply and mindlessly repeat what we have heard or relay them in 140 character sound-bites. Some of these are, of course, a result of programming by the media.
It is at this point, perhaps where George Orwell was more accurate in his prophecy than Aldous Huxley. Orwell’s 1984 was all about control and one of the best tools it used for this was disinformation. The Ministry of Truth (you can’t miss the irony in the name) concerned itself with Lies and manipulating public opinion through print media, film and radio. The concept of historical truth is irrelevant: truth, and history, becomes what the Party wants it to be. The main character, Winston Smith himself takes part in this, rewriting the news: he therefore knows that the details of the past have been tampered with, and is unable to discern or discover what the truth might be.
A similar scene is in Huxley’s Brave New World where the Resident World Controller for Western Europe is lamenting the fall of truth. “Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value;” he says, “all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change even then. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth … can’t.”
According to Google, the number of mentions of the word “truth” have been declining over the centuries (see graphic below). On the other side of the divide, the usage of the word post-truth increased 2000% in the year 2016 alone. In this age where truth is become rarer by the day, the most important question one will ever ask then is, “What is truth?”.
In the evening hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he is asked this exact same question though the questioner doesn’t wait for an answer. In the 2004 depiction of the Passion of Christ, the creators of the movie imagine Pilate’s conversation with his wife after he walks away from the answer of the all important question. Pilate asks, “What is truth, Claudia? Do you hear it, recognize it when it is spoken?” Claudia’s reply points to the nature of the truth of which Jesus speaks.
Not understanding Claudia’s response, he falls back to the truth he can recognize. He says,
Do you want to know what my truth is, Claudia?
I’ve been putting down rebellions in this rotten outpost for eleven years.
If I don’t condemn this man . . .
I know Caiphas (sic) will start a rebellion.
If I do condemn him. then his followers may.
Either way, there will be bloodshed.
Caesar has warned me, Claudia. Warned me twice.
He swore that the next time the blood would be mine.
That is my truth!(2)
In their book, Film & Religion, the authors note that the truth of which Jesus—and Claudia—speak has a transcendent character; it is above all else. It is Truth with a capital “T”. Pilate replaces this Truth to which Jesus witnesses with the truth given by Caesar. It is therefore possible that we hold onto our small ‘truths’ solely because of (as Huxley puts it) the comfort and happiness – universal happiness – they afford us.
In the Christian World-view, the Truth, and true freedom are inextricably connected. Break this design, and you break life. Honor this design, and you find true freedom.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.(3)
(1) David Foster Wallace, “This is Water,” Commencement Address, Kenyon College Graduation, Kenyon, Ohio, 2005.
(2) Film & Religion: An Introduction (Jun 1, 2007) by Paul V.M. Flesher and Robert Torry
(3) John 8:32