Post-Truth Pandemic

© Abhishek Sacariya

After the post-truth hospital episodes in my previous post, my friend and I are concerned about what the future holds in this post-truth pandemic. Will the court of law, pharmaceutical companies, media, and the other institutions uphold the truth, and justice?

Before we go any further, my friend wanted me to answer his question. “How do you know what is the truth?”. I don’t know if I was rude to him, but I did not give him an answer. Instead, I told him. You are a medical scientist, you know how to investigate better. The only question is, are you really seeking the truth? If yes, then you will do your homework. I said so because I wanted him to search and find the truth by himself.

Anyone who tests for truth seeks logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. That applies to morality, as much as it applies to science.

Ok, now back to post-truth. Cambridge dictionary defines post-truth as “relating to a situation in which people are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than one based on facts.”

In the media or the political sphere today, we call these ‘truths’ as narratives. The Chinese narrative of the pandemic, the WHO narrative, The American narrative, the Hindutva narrative, etc. The WHO congratulates the Chinese in their narrative. The Americans condemn the Chinese in their narrative. Are we satisfied with these narratives? Since we have rejected the truth, aren’t we left with narratives that ultimately deceive us?

Yuval Harari said, “The truth is, ‘truth’ has never been high on the agenda of Homo-Sapiens. If you stick to unalloyed reality, few people will follow you.” Does Harari presume that he is speaking the truth?

Harari is right that humans have been fascinated by myths from the beginning. But, just because false beliefs and superstitions thrived does that make truth non-existent or irrelevant? Stories and legends captivate the human imagination and can even bypass logic and reasoning. They are beautiful when their substance is truth and love. But they are dangerous when corrupted with deceit. This article I am writing is fictional about the conversation with a friend, but through a story, I am truthfully arguing my point, which I believe is true.

Recently Rahul Kanwal from India today news channel asked Harari over a call for his comment on India’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. He was hoping Harari would praise the Hindutva narrative. But, Harari rightly spoke against the fascist narrative that targeted Muslims as the main reason for the spread of the virus in the country. If Homo-Sapiens are wired to believe narratives, why is he condemning one story over others? Is he not trying to lean towards what he believes is the truth? Yes, otherwise, his philosophizing will be self-defeating. That is why even Nietche confessed: “I am still too pious that even I worship at the altar where God’s name is truth.”

If you observe carefully, post-truth is not really that truth is relative, and we all can live in harmony with our personal truths. It is a false narrative to legitimize your own way when we are not at the receiving end.

Ravi Zacharias spoke at UN prayer breakfast 2016. He mentioned speaking to one person at the venue who said, “I spoke with all of the ambassadors here individually, and I have asked them one question, Do you have any hope for the future? Everyone gave me a long speech on what they think the future may hold. But not one of them gave an answer in an affirmative.

I asked my friend the same question way before the current pandemic crisis. He clearly said he does not see any hope. “We are doomed,” he said. Why have we lost hope? Is it because we don’t trust others anymore? When we reject the truth, do we find it hard to trust others?

In this post-truth pandemic, truth is killed in the halls of scientific laboratories, politics, judiciary, governance, academia, hospitals, religious centers, and in the secret recesses of our hearts.

There is an ultimate cry for justice in every heart when wronged. Justice counts on the truth. Without those two realities, civilization will crumble. The post-truth narrative is another deceit of the post-truth species. Until we begin to seek the truth in our hearts, the future for humanity looks grim.

There is an ultimate cry for justice in every heart when wronged. Justice counts on the truth.

George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” So what does it mean to speak the truth? To speak the truth, we first need to know the truth. Our Indian sages sought in prayer for it (sincerely I suppose) in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, which says, “Lead me from the untruth to the truth…”

The reason my friend initially thought truth does not apply to morality or belief as it applies to science is that Materialism has taught us to believe that our reality is mere material. We rejected transcendence. As love transcends chemistry, so does truth transcends the body.

Martin Luther King, in his Nobel prize speech, said: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” If this is true, where do we see this? Here is a clue. I see this on the cross. The one who died on the cross and rose again said, “I am the Truth.”

The conversation in this article is fictional.

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Mark Raja

Mark Raja

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I mostly write to clarify my understanding. You will find my articles on themes like beauty, faith, hope, culture, and common good.