Pontius Pilate, governor of the Roman province of Judea, is credited with an infamous quote in John 18:38 of the Bible.

“What is truth?” he said.

While Pilate wasn’t really asking the question in search of an answer, but was instead attempting to justify his own actions with a rhetorical remark, his words nonetheless went down in history as some of the most memorable ever spoken. But regardless of his intent, Pilate couldn’t possibly have foreseen how relevant that three-word question would become a bit more than 2,000 years later.

Truly, it’s not always easy these days to discern what’s true and what isn’t. On the contrary, truth has even become debatable and many folks seem to prefer abiding by their own version of it.

How and when that trend began is also not easy to determine. But there have been countless participants in the effort to skew peoples’ viewpoints of truth, and even to hide it behind a veil of wordy (but shallow and irrational) proclamations, declarations and explanations. But while truth itself becomes harder and harder to recognize, I think the reasons why it’s being attacked are not nearly as veiled, and are almost all linked to the goal of supporting or promoting the agendas of limited groups of people while simultaneously shunning the will (or even existence) or the majority.

Many members of the U.S. mainstream media have gone the extra mile to muddy-up truth, and have chosen to ride a wave of psychobabble and absurdity instead of simply presenting what’s happening, and who it’s happening to, without adding a carefully crafted assortment of verbal baggage.

Of course, the media and everyone else aboard the truth-bashing bandwagon aren’t exactly doing anything new, as the practice of supplanting truth with falsehood is about as old as dirt. In fact, examples of so-called leaders using the ploy to acquire gain are plentiful through the centuries, like Adolf Hitler and his Nazi propaganda henchman Joseph Goebbels, who are both credited with expounding on how people will eventually believe “the big lie” if it’s heard often enough.

But while the bogus vs. genuine clash has been going on for a heck of a long time, there’s no denying it’s more prevalent now than ever, and is also more easily applied due to peoples’ widespread “connection” to information (resulting from rapid advancements in electronic communication technology).

But really, how did we get here?

Perhaps the issue is related to the fact that what was once considered right is now often wrong. And maybe it has to do with a large-scale propensity to come against “the system,” even if that means revising history and embracing invalid concepts and ideals.

But whatever the case, it’s probably safe to say that truth isn’t as true as it used to be.

A wise guy once said that truth should never be allowed to get in the way of a good story. I do believe there are presently a whole lot of good stories being told without the “burden” of truth.

And I don’t see that changing, and I’m pretty sure the “new normal” will include a continual struggle to control truth.

So what does that mean? It means anyone interested in what’s real, legitimate, accurate, actual and authentic must now be more informed, attentive and on guard than ever before.

Sure, that’s not easy when the truth is seldom in the forefront and frequently has to be separated from the mental chaff. But that’s how it is – and how it will be.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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