Do Americans want to be deceived?
In 2012 Marquette University ethics professor emeritus Dr. Daniel McGuire penned an amazingly contemporary piece entitled “The Loneliness of the Truth Teller” for the Huffington Post.
He wrote there is a “striking conviction of the Jewish and Christian biblical writers that people perversely seem to want to be deceived. The third century Christian Tertullian said that ‘the truth appears to be instinctively hated.’ The prophet Hosea lamented ‘there is no truth … in the land!’ Jeremiah offered a dare: ‘Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem and see for yourselves; search her wide squares; can you find anyone who seeks the truth?’ Our leaders speak ‘lies,’ said Jeremiah and the ‘people love to have it so.’ Isaiah moaned that people ‘prefer smooth words and seductive visions.’ As a result: ‘Truth stumbles in the market-place and honesty is kept out of court, so truth is lost to sight.’”
McGuire concluded the biblical and classical authors who said all this discerned “that people don’t mind deception and folks in power are more than happy to accommodate them.”
Has that ever been more true than today?
Whether our powerful president’s lies or our powerful news media’s fake news, the “truth is lost to sight.”
The truth is lost to sight so easily for two reasons. First, as Dr. McGuire says, because our sorry human nature loves to have it so. But also because it is buried beneath the piles of blogs, tweets, posts, pronouncements, and news casts that distort everything to fit their own agendas. Yes, we still have truth tellers, but you can’t find them beneath the piles of verbal manure.
Former CBS host Bob Schieffer, author of “Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News,” said, “We can’t knock down every lie as it comes out, there’s just too much.”
Closer to home, consider the story about the $2 million now-suspended frontage road project near Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ gated community.
MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath said the only reason the frontage road was to be built was due to political pressure from Reeves’ office. Reeves said he, personally, provided no such pressure and challenged McGrath to substantiate her claim. MDOT Commissioner Dick Hall said he made the decision to build the road for safety reasons but suspended the project after the safety reasons were questioned. McGrath, in a letter to Reeves, stood by her assertion that MDOT officials believe Reeves’ office exerted “political authority.” Likely Reeves opponent for governor next year, Attorney General Jim Hood said he has a duty to investigate.
Perhaps we don’t care who the truth tellers are here.
How about House Speaker Philip Gunn’s moral opposition to gambling vis-à-vis a state lottery. Gunn is a Baptist deacon who “has always been opposed to gambling” his spokesperson has said. But, fantasy sports gambling passed the House on his watch last year. And, guess what, it had a sneaky provision hidden within that legalized sports betting at casinos should the U.S. Supreme Court allow it. Sports betting at casinos kicked off last week.
Perhaps we don’t care about this either.
And that is Dr. McGuire’s point, we don’t care about deception, especially from those in power. Woe is us!