What’s Wrong With The Truth?

It’s one of those screaming days in my head.  I’m reading the Huffington Post online today and the news seems to indicate that Ann Romney “Loves the fact that there are single, working mothers”.  She doesn’t.  What she said, if you read it or listen to the clip is: “I love all kinds of people. I love single mothers that work. I love fathers that stay home and raise children… ” It’s not that she wants mothers to be single, poor, and working. She likes them as people — or acknowledges their existence or something like that.  The Huffington Post seems to be saying that (once again), Mitt Romney’s out of touch with “the people” and look at his wife as proof.  I get what they’re trying to do, and I give them credit for actually publishing/showing the actual clip. But seriously, why skew the headline to obscure the truth?

Further on down the page, there were two more articles: “Arpaio Doubles Down on Birther Charges”  and “Darrell Issa: Obama Government Most Corrupt In History”.  I didn’t read either of those articles because I don’t know or care who those people are, but they highlight more of the craziness out there.  Does Mr. Arpaio actually believe that yelling something or stating it more than once makes something true? If it does, then I’m rich! I’m rich!.  Sadly, that doesn’t work.  Regardless of what Hitler said when talking about The Big Lie, the truth remains the truth, even if nobody believes it, even if everybody believes it. President Obama has already shown his birth certificate. It doesn’t matter that some tabloid says, “Bill Clinton knows Obama’s not a citizen”.  It doesn’t matter that some people didn’t vote for him. The truth is that Obama has shown us  the document and that he is the President. That’s all there is to it. Done. No matter how much you don’t like reality, it’s still reality. If volume equalled truth, then Rupert Murdoch would be the most truthful man in America. He’s not.

Next is “Darrell Issa: Obama Government Most Corrupt In History”.  On what basis is that a fact?  I don’t know all the details, but I think Caligula’s got Obama beat for “Most Corrupt in History!”. One could make the case that Hitler’s government was the most evil of all, but corrupt? Eh, it’s hard to know these things.  How does Mr. Issa get away with saying these things? Isn’t that slander? Maybe the Huffington Post is trying to show how “out there” Issa is.  Still, for every person that “gets” that, there are at least as many who believe it’s true because some politician (is that what he is?) says it’s true.  If people are going to lead this country — or any other — they should — simply as a matter of course, tell the truth — not the half-truth, not the doctored truth, the spun truth, the upside down truth, or the soon to be true truth — but the actual truth, or as close as they can get to it.  I know that statistics, like the unemployment rate, can be complicated, but then, you explain that “they can be read this way or that, but here’s what I see…”.  I rue the day that someone invented “Spin Doctors”!

Further, opinion isn’t fact. It’s opinion. Couldn’t  somebody just say, “In my opinion…” or “you can think what you want, but I think…”? And, wouldn’t it be nice if the press used the whole quote, including the “opinion” part? Blurring the difference between opinion and fact only keeps us stuck arguing about reality, instead of doing something. It increases our cynicism because we don’t know what’s going on. For example, if Al Gore’s right that earth is warming and we’re all going to be underwater if we don’t make changes, shouldn’t we act on that? I don’t want to find out that some person in the media only thought Gore was wrong as the water rises into my house.

If you meet me on the street and ask me a question (barring confidentiality, of course), I’ll give you an answer. Generally, it’ll either be true or it’ll be my opinion. If it’s my opinion, I’ll tell you that. If it’s not my opinion, it’s the truth as I know it. It makes life sooo much easier. I don’t care about post-modernism or “relative” truth. We used to call that “opinion”.  Even if we thought it was weighted opinion, it was still opinion. If we listen long enough and open our minds, we can hear the difference between “he said, she said” and the truth of the events.  I’m willing to hear opinions and put them together toward what I think is the truth. I do it all the time, but I do so knowing I might be wrong and can re-visit the whole thing. 

It just seems to me that we don’t hold the truth as valuable anymore, that we like to believe what what we like to believe regardless of the facts. And I think it’s going to kill us in the long-run.  “But”, as Dennis Miller used to say, “that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong”.





Women’s Work Is: a) Never Done b) Never Paid For c) All of the Above d) None of the Above

A million years ago, when I was a pastor in a small town in upstate New York, my parishioners and I were sitting on my porch discussing feminist analysis of scripture when a woman said, “I don’t like those feminists. I don’t believe in what they stand for”. I was shocked, but after I regrouped, I asked her “Have you ever done the same work as a man for less money?”. She said, “yes”. I asked, “Does that seem fair to you?”. The blood drained from her face and the smoke poured out of her ears. She went on to describe — for twenty minutes! — how she had to work for her brother picking corn because he was sick and how she had to work in 102 degree heat.  At the end of the day, she made less than half of what he made, (if she made anything).  She was told because she was a woman, she didn’t need it as much as he did. So, as she pointed out, “I was stronger than he was (he was ill from the heat), worked harder at something, and got less money for it?!”  “That’s not right!”, she demanded.  I explained that “equal pay for equal work” is one of the basic tenets of feminism and that she was right, it wasn’t fair.  These events happened when she was in her teens and she was in her sixties when she told the story! That’s a long time to sit on pain and anger, but there it was.

We’re having a weird year in the news this year.  Issues I thought we’d long decided: Black folk shouldn’t be shot, women should have available birth control if they want it, poor people should get the help they need, and now “yes, a mother is a worker” comes back up for a vote — at least in the popular press. The Huffington Post says, “Spare Us! A Day Wasted on Another Pointless Story” and then goes on to say that a) Romney’s wife was a stay-at-home mother who believes she did work; b) The government doesn’t call it work for tax purposes because they don’t get paid for it; c) Some women choose to work outside of the home, some don’t; d) Some women don’t feel like they have a choice and have to work outside the home because they’re single parents or poor parents.  Which part of this is news? And here’s the Huffington Post, both decrying it as a “pointless story” and, at the same time, running at least three articles on it.  It must not be pointless to somebody.

So, just to check in on what I thought had already been settled:  In the sight of God, and in our government, “all people are created equal”. I know that the Constitution says “Men” there, but we’ve grown up enough to believe that men and women have equal value so I’ll write it that way. By law, Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, and every other race is considered to be of equal value. Poor people are equal in value to rich people, even if they are not paid the same.  Gay folks are equal to heterosexual folk in many parts of the country (and in my church) by law. All of this is true in a democracy.

Other facts I think are “settled” — raising a child, if you do it right, is hard work. It’s time consuming, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s time consuming. Lastly, it costs money to do it at all.

Here’s where it gets funky: we say that everyone has equal value in a democracy, and that “capitalism equals democracy”, but somehow that doesn’t translate into equal pay for work in the capitalist system we live in.  We value “motherhood and apple pie” but we only pay for the apple pie. I’m not sure why we do that, but I’m sure it’s not right.

Both Mrs. Romney and the Democratic woman who said she never worked (i.e. outside of the home) are correct. If folks are going to say that being a mother is so very important to the fabric of who we are as a nation, maybe we should pay the mothers who do that work. If we say that parenting is an important job, and that some people shouldn’t have children they can’t take care of because it’s a burden on society,  maybe we should pay for them not to have children so that they don’t burden our society with children we/they can’t handle. If we say that “wealth equals value”, or that “work equals the right to make a living”, maybe we should pay people who do work enough to earn a living. If a woman raising kids has the same bills as a man raising kids, (regardless of whether she works outside of the home or not) maybe she should get the same money for doing the same work — so she can raise her kids, the same way a man can.

Either our values are true, but capitalism is a lie or our values aren’t right and capitalism tells the truth. It’s as simple as that. I would prefer — whatever system you want to call it — that both equality and capitalism were true. It only seems fair.