What is truth? The question asked of Our Lord by Pilate is now one which exercises our media. The attempt by President Trump to challenge the main-stream media’s version of events has raised the question of what is truth in an acute form for the media, although for some of us it was the ‘case’ made for the Iraq war which first brought the extent to which ‘spin’ was destroying the basis of democratic politics into the headlights. It may be that memory fails me, but with one of two exceptions, I do not recall the MSM being quite so preoccupied with holding Blair and Bush to account at the time.
I seems that Orwell’s 1984 has become a best-seller. Orwell, like most on the Left believed in the perfectibility of man, and his excoriating criticism of ‘Big Brother’ was based on the thesis that the truth was being suppressed and falsified – and that people cared. There is, I should like to suggest, little evidence that most people do care about the truth, except in so far as it effects them directly. Our Western society is based upon a set of hedonist principles. There is nothing beyond this life. What matters is ‘getting on’ and getting as much out of this life as you can: new consumer goods, new homes, new wives/husbands, everything is disposable because everything is transitory. It is a hedonism tempered by sentimentality. So, if the BBC runs a ‘Children in Need’ programmes, millions will donate generously ‘for the kids’. But if nearly two million babies in the womb are killed every year, we don’t mention that. It interferes with the ‘woman’s right to choose what to do with her body’; although anyone who really cannot tell the difference between their body and the body of another human inside them, would be a strange person. But why, our society reasons, should a woman have to have a child she does not want? The hedonist algorithm rules. Of course the ‘hard cases’ of rape or incest will be added, as though they are more than the tiniest proportion of women who have an abortion. Our fearless, truth-telling BBC has never run an investigation of what happens in abortion clinics. Not all truths are equal. Truth serves the ‘values’ our society promotes.
Absent any eternal perspective, Hobbes is right, human life for most is poor, nasty, brutish and short. It may be that in the West we can make it rich in material things and longer, but if one looks at our culture, brutish seems still to apply. I was not, I am sure, the only one struck by the difference between the two marches in Washington in the last week. The first full of vulgarity, profanity and excess – license masquerading as liberty, the the second, the ‘March for Life’ serene, peaceful and prayerful. These marches provide two contrasting snapshots: one a society where religion has no place; the other one informed by religious sensibilities. You pays your money, as they say, and you takes your choice. I know, for my part, which looked like the sort of society I’d like to be part of.
It was, of course, ironic, that Pilate should have asked the Word, the Truth and the Life what Truth was – it is a person, not a thing, and Christ apart, is a relativistic construct manipulated by sinful man for his own twisted purposes.