Should journalists report news or create it? Lies and deception have been the tools of manipulation throughout human history but news media in the United States, particularly during the 2016 presidential election campaign and its aftermath, have exacerbated and highlighted this deceptive practice. Truth requires integrity, credibility, faith and a good reputation in those who exercise it; lies come only by dishonesty, disbelief, distrust and mockery.
So why is ‘fake news’ so prevalent today? It may, temporarily, increase sales of newspapers and give greater exposure to celebrities but when the truth comes out, as truth invariably does, when fake credibility is destroyed, so sales decrease and celebrities exchange fame for infamy and all their opinions are regarded as suspect. What possible advantage is there in that?
We see the same spirit at work in relationships – in the cowardly culture of bullying, in the slyness of gossip, in the bigotry of racial and social activism, in the policking of governments and in the duplicity of those who lay claim to righteousness but whose actual works expose their hypocrisy.
In this world many consider it wise to take the advantage wherever, whenever and however it presents itself. They use, for example, political correctness to give themselves an advantage in western nations, where it is demanded, even with violence; PC is certainly political but rarely correct. Too many have accepted its categorisation of both people and events; myopic analysts, its adherents look only at what they want to see and ignore the bigger picture; they cannot see the forest for the trees. The world does not work like that.
To fight fake news, et al, we must personally reject the thinking and the actions involved and become an active resistance, being real in all our works. When we find something fake on social media – even if we’ve fallen for it ourselves – we must expose it. Look after one another’s best interests and refuse to forward not only false information but anything that hurts or condemns another, particularly when such accusation is without proof or reason.
Cyber bullying comes to mind. Too many young people are so easily deceived: don’t follow the crowd, the fad, the peer pressure. Be leaders! Stand up for the weak; in the case of bullying, don’t simply delete spurious posts but unfriend the unfriendly – or one day you will be their victim; and on the face-to-face front, don’t just mourn for the bullied suicides – help them before it gets to that. You know when somebody’s afraid, when a gang of cowards is targeting the vunerable! Step in and help; be a hero. You may save someone who will be great one day, someone who will never forget your grace – while the bullies will disappear into disrepute if they won’t change.
Always treat your mind with the utmost respect. Remember GIGO? Garbage in, garbage out. You don’t hear that acronym much anymore because it doesn’t fit the modus operandi of the manipulators – the fake, the innumerable fake, who phish and promote spam and infect with viruses, who lie and scam and gossip and publish fake news.
Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans, were executed by the Nazis in 1943 for their rebellion against the state. They killed no one; they said what others less brave would only allow themselves to think, whispering their fears to one another in safe, dark places but never changing anything. Read their story. Sophie and the White Rose group are remembered with honour, but their killers are not. And God will resurrect them for all the world to see and know. Sophie understood this.
She said, about her life:
“I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it.”
She said, about her work:
“Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.”
And she encouraged us all to:
“Stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone.”