After Solzhenitsyn was stripped of his Soviet citizenship in the seventies, he wrote a parting letter, “Live Not by Lies”, to the intelligentsia admonishing them not to participate in or support a lie. He wrote, “In our country, the daily lie is not the whim of corrupt nature, but a mode of existence, a condition of the daily welfare of every man. In our country, the lie has been incorporated into the state system as the vital link holding everything together, with billions of tiny fasteners, several dozen to each man.” After the fall of the Soviet Union, truth had lost its meaning.
In today’s world, we are not far from that reality. “Post-truth” was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. After the recently coined term, “alternative facts”, a pizza chain is offering an alternative-fact, zero-calorie pizza with bacon, pepperoni, sausage, and ham. If you gain weight after eating the pizza, then you must face the actual facts of the calories you consumed.
Instead of addressing the intelligentsia, I will address Christians while hoping that we will be intelligent, wise, and compassionate. This leads me to the question Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” after Jesus told him that his purpose was “to bear witness to the truth”. (John 18:37-38) Fellow Christians, we discredit ourselves and hinder our witness to the world when we pass on false information and lash out at others. First, we must become transformed by the truth of the Gospel that sets us free from motives such as fear, control, egocentrism, racism, and nationalism that blind us to an objective and loving response. When we continually come before God on His terms and surrender all of our fears and desires with hearts laid bare before Him, we may come away with hope, love, compassion, and strength to work towards the greater good of ministering reconciliation to God and humankind in a hurting world.
Second, we must become well-informed before we post on social media or engage in dialog over issues that have become increasingly polarized and heated. Think about who is feeding you “truth” and why.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Painting: Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Antonio Ciseri
I do not agree with some of Solzhenitsyn’s views.