President Trumps lawyer, Mr Rudy Guilaini, claimed on US TV network NBC yesterday that “Truth isn’t truth”. This comment was made in responds to questions by the Meet the Press host, Mr Todd, who, on hearing these words, put his hand on his head in disbelief and countered, “Truth is truth”.
Why is what is truth an important question? And why is this headline news?
These comments were made in the programme Meet the Press on Sunday during an interview concerning the on-going investigation into Russian involvement in affecting the outcome of the last American election that appointed Mr Trump to his position. For these reasons alone finding the truth is important!
However, the statement, “Truth isn’t truth” does not claim someone else is lying it claims that truth itself isn’t true. So, what in effect it says is there is no truth. It is always true that, as we say in England, “there are two sides to every story”, but that does not change the fact that there is a true version of the story.
The idea of different versions of the truth is explored in the excellent 1986 TV commercial ‘points of view’ for the Guardian Newspaper. In it a young man is seen running down the street and violently grabbing a man with a brief case, creating the impression that the youth is a criminal. The camera angle is then changed and you see that the youth is actually saving the mans life from bricks that are about to fall on his head. Seen from the first camera angle the young man is a criminal seen from the second camera angle he is a hero.
With repeated claims of, “fake news”, and now this, “truth isn’t truth”, statement it certainly seems like truth is being undermined in the US. Coincidentally, yesterday on a completely different continent, I was refused a press pass at the Department of Information in Nepal on grounds that some of my documents were fake. This claim was maintained despite, the writer of one of the documents, a lady who works for the Nepal Tourism Board speaking with the staff at the department on the phone. May be this was the catalyst, giving me the motivation to write this article?
This questioning of truth is not new! Buddhist’s believe in two forms of truth, conventional truth and the real or ultimate Truth, and that ultimate truth can only be found through meditation. Pilate, before sending Jesus to be crucified was questioning him regarding whether he was a King or not. In the course of the questioning Jesus talks about his kingdom and truth, Pilates response is; “What is truth?” Philosophers and many intellectuals have had many profound discussions on absolute truth and relative truth, and whether relative truth is really true. I understand something of those arguments and discussions and find them interesting however it remains that the truth is real, factual and well … true.
I believe passionately that the truth is the truth! There are often many versions of events but there remains only one that is true. To argue with the concept of truth is dangerous and undermines the foundations of any just or moral society, for if truth does not exist then you can never hold anyone to account for their actions. Therefore, this news story is important.
The undermining of truth is also important as Christians believe in Jesus Christ who said in John 14:6,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
I have had many conversations, with people of many religions and nations, on the subject of religion that end with some statement like, “what you believe is good for you”. And I am sure that you will have had the same response and may well now be asking, “what is wrong with that?” It is a tolerant and seemingly respectful response isn’t it? Yes, it is tolerant but what in effect it says is exactly what President Trumps lawyer just said, “Truth isn’t truth”. It is saying, “Your truth is right and good for you but it is not true or good for me. It fundamentally challenges the concept of truth.
You see if you believe in Jesus and trust the Bible to be true and accurate, as I do, then you must believe in absolute truth. Jesus said I am “the truth” and not a truth.
I hope and pray that this generation of Christians will uphold the truth. Truth is the foundation for good and moral society and any healthy government. Please for the US, Nepal and the world today for when truth is undermined and ignored society and its structures get weaker. Pray also for me that I will find a way to get a visa to stay here in Nepal and to work for the good of this land.