These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace. (Zechariah 8:16).
The political season is upon us. Just as the Christmas shopping season has evolved from a few weeks in December to a few months starting around Labor Day; so has the political season evolved. Once upon a time we heard from would-be future Presidents of the United States a few months before the November election. Now we’re treated to this public mud-slinging saturation of half truths, intentional deceptions, and false accusations for more than a year in advance. It might be time to buy stock in the public media outlets.
I have friends and families on both sides of the Red/Blue divide. I try to refrain, but sometimes I can’t help myself and render political opinions. I saw a graph recently that may or may not be based on actual research. Regardless, I believe it illustrates a political truth. Political arguments serve only to further entrench people in whatever their position was on the issue before the conversation.
Here I focus on the ancient words from Zechariah. We who live in the United States in the 21st Century are not the first society to deal with corrupt and misguided public officials. It seems where two or three are gathered, some focus on what’s best for themselves rather than what is best for everyone.
Telling the truth has consequences. Not telling the truth has consequences. As we work our way through the political process of electing our next national leader, I’ve been thinking about the consequences and benefits of each.
Benefits of telling the truth
Benefits of not telling the truth
|You don’t have to remember what you said||You can deceive others into doing your will|
|It sheds light on a situation||It keeps an uncomfortable reality hidden|
|It builds up a community||It manipulates the issue toward your personal advantage|
|It sets a good example for others||It keeps others from learning the truth|
|It exercises the morality muscles||It exercises the conniving muscles|
|You get to live with an honest person|
Consequences for telling the truth
Consequences for not telling the truth
|People may become upset and argumentative||You have to remember details of the lies|
|Your integrity may be challenged||People learn not to trust you|
|You risk losing friends and loved ones who just don’t want to hear it||You’re stuck living with a liar|
|You end up hanging out with others who lie and never know who you can trust|
So as we journey along the path filled with the political potholes, let’s take time to research the truth behind the hype. Volume and repetition do not equal reality. It’s not easy trying to figure out who’s telling the truth and has our best interests in mind. Here I think we can turn to the Rotarians for a little assistance. One of the foundational principles of Rotary International is the Four-Way test:
- Is the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Of course those who intentionally mislead us will claim they tell the truth, which may or may not be true. We have to gather our own information from a variety of sources and rely on the fact-checkers among us to help us separate truth from fantasy.
I frequently hear people asking God to bless America. God has, is, and I trust will continue to do just that. But God doesn’t only care about America. God cared a lot about the ancient people Zechariah addressed. Zechariah wrote in the hopes of purifying a community gone astray. That seems to be appropriate for us too. The rest of the quote from Zechariah reads, “Do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, says the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:17).
Batten down the hatches. We’ve got a long political road ahead to Inauguration 2017.