trumpian truth

washington-cherry-treeWhen I was growing up, every Canadian kid knew the story of young George Washington and the cherry tree. Boy chops down tree. Dad asks him who did it. Boy, knowing he faced certain punishment, bravely admitted his guilt. Boy grows up to be the first president of the United States of America.

The moral of the story wasn’t difficult to grasp. Telling the truth, even if it might hurt you, is a sign of good character. It is the kind of good character that is not only exulted in famous leaders of the past, it’s an example for all of us in the present. Good countries are built on the good character of their leaders and their people.

Some truth is subjective. I live my life based on certain religious truths that aren’t shared by all, but there are moral truths that are generally accepted. Truths that are necessary for the common good, and are reflected in our laws. It is wrong to steal from your neighbour. It is wrong to kill each other. It is wrong to slander another. It is wrong to lie.

Our justice system is based on the premise that the truth must be told in courts of law. Oaths are taken as a sign of allegiance to a country, a government, or a group. Vows are a sign of fidelity and love in marriage. None of us are perfect, but we have to believe that the person speaking the words will act on them to the best of their ability. The basic belief and need for speaking truthfully is foundational in our governments, societies and in our families.

All good parents try to instill the importance of telling the truth to our children. One of my kiddies tried to get off the hook by saying, “I wasn’t lying. I was only kidding!” We stressed over and over the importance of honesty whether it was a pre-schooler’s spilled juice cup, or a teenager’s evening plans.

When trust is broken, it takes a lot of work to regain it. How can we trust a person if we can’t trust what they say? This was a basic lesson for all children to learn.

And yet, here we are. The first days of the new American administration are showing that President Trump feels no greater urgency to tell the truth than did Candidate Trump. His staff faces the media and unabashedly speak of “alternative facts” and how their boss’s opinion is based on what he believes is true.

Sadly, there is some truth to this. If I restricted my facts to alt-right news media, Trump’s speeches and twitter account, my view of what is true would be completely skewed from what it is now. I would believe that the USA is a dystopian wasteland, a carnage of poverty and violence. I would blame the “other” for all my misfortunes, and feel free expressing my fear and hatred of cultures that don’t mirror my own white, Christian world.

Trump’s “truth” is not my truth but it is, sadly, shared by many. Politicians are elected by people who agree with the agenda and platform that the politician presents; their truth. Trump is now acting on all the promises he made, promises that seemed so outlandish that saner minds were convinced they would never happen. So, in this sense, Trump was not lying.

Governing requires discerning for the common good, and good discernment requires careful exploration of all the facts at hand. And, here is the danger. As with his horrible “birtherism” movement, Trump’s truths are not based on objective facts. He isn’t a fan of intelligence briefings. He bypasses inconvenient statistics and makes up facts on the fly. He flings numbers around that can’t be proven, just to inflate his own ego. He bullies and threatens anyone who questions him, especially the media, and is already silencing federal employees and departments.

Put simply, Trump’s truths are based on lies. No amount of doublespeak, word spinning or doctoring can hide the simple fact that the man will unabashedly ignore objective facts if they are counter to his version of truth.

If Trump had chopped down the cherry tree, he would have probably pointed his finger at the kid next door, the one from the family with a questionable back-ground. You know, the ones who shouldn’t be here in the first place. All this while still holding the hatchet in his tiny hands.

6 thoughts on “trumpian truth

  1. Three points:
    1.This article could have been about President Kim Jon Un of “the People’s Democratice Republic of (North) Korea”.
    2.That this kind of a narcissistic, maniacal bully can become leader of the most powerful nation on the globe gives us pause to worry about the reliability of the United States as a country as well as about its “intrinsic” stability.
    3.White Catholics essentially elected Trump (PEW: 60-37% or 52-45?). Roman Catholics got what they voted for. White Catholics jeopardized everything “we” supposedly stand for in the narrow-minded, illogically framed, ideologically fundamentalist, clericalist framed, hierarchic directed homophobic, pretense that “pro choice” is “anti-life” and that gays are “intrinsically evil” alone or together. Add a dash of misogyny to that list. Thank you Church.

    So, castigate Trump, granted. However, Trump says, does, is, and will be and do just what he was before the election. What does it say about us and ours?

  2. It’s true that those white Catholics who voted, voted to elect Trump. So did white Evangelicals. What’s more important to me, however, is the fact that so many people did not vote. According to CNN, voter turnout was the lowest in 20 years. I think that we all need to do more work to ensure greater voter participation in our elections. I truly believe that if more people voted, we would not elect such liars.

      1. I don’t understand the strong Catholic/Christian support given to Trump. Is it due to single issue voting? Being pro-life must go beyond anti-abortion. How many Christians voted for economic reasons, seeking simply to protect their wealth? We know what Jesus would say about that.

        The small voter turn out is shameful. We face the same problem here in Canada. A friend in Ireland told me that voting is compulsory in her country. Voting day is a national holiday, and every effort is made to help folks get to the polls. Perhaps it’s something to consider.

        Another issue is the cost of elections themselves. Is it a true democracy if only the wealthy can assume the costs of running for office? The American electoral process, especially, is inconceivably long and expensive. One can only imagine how the money spent on elections could be better used.

        Maybe Trump’s rise to power will be reason to revisit the good and the bad of our democratic processes.

        Thanks Dennis and Tatiana for keeping the conversation going!


      2. A CORRECTION. My Irish friend just informed me that voting ISNT compulsory in Ireland. It was our Australian friend who told us it was compulsory in her country. Voting takes place on a Saturday. And, yes, I have cool friends from around the world. And, yes, we have grand conversations! 😊

  3. “Pro life must go beyond abortion”. You know that, so do most who supported/participated in the “Sisters’ March”. The church methodology too often seems to be: simplify, divide and demand/demonize. As “nature” would suggest, the termination of pregnancy is not a “univocal” issue and reason would suggest that treating it with “absolutes” is intellectually and morally insulting. Guns, killing, war, bombs, torture, exclusion are …., well…..but abortion is absolute evil?
    The, so-called, “rust belt” argument evokes sympathy, but it is no excuse, to my mind, for voting for an inarticulate demagogue who doesn’t pay his bills, stiffs suppliers, ignores innovation, etc., in addition to all the other offensive characteristics. “Good old byes” in taverns ogle women as they bemoan the “gone jobs” a lot more than “locker room” guys . That justification doesn’t make sense. However, “pay back” for the presumption by the other side does have some cred.
    I wish someone would do some research on the number of children of those “rust belt” and rural Trump voters who moved to the urban centres – as hard working as their elders, maybe more so – to find their way and voted Democrat and are revolted at Trump.

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