Is the truth subjective or are there really facts that are indisputable? Some facts are based on context and perception. An example would be Mt. St. Helen’s, after its eruption. The side that exploded outward showed an ugly landscape of ash, fallen trees, mud choked streams and rivers. The other side of the mountain was beautiful, a snow cover top, a beautiful tree line, with crystal clear creeks and waterfalls. Both descriptions of Mt. St. Helen’s are correct, depending on which side of the mountain you are looking at.
But there are some facts that are not debatable, even if some folks wish to deny the truth. The problem is that if someone is locked and loaded into a particular understanding of reality, there will be no way you can convince them otherwise. The Roman Catholic Church believed for years that the sun rotated around the earth and that the earth was the center of all creation. Galileo showed them that this was wrong, he was imprisoned and almost excommunicated for his telling the truth. He recanted his observations until a time when more voices proclaimed this truth. It still took hundreds of years for the church to officially agree with Galileo.
For many years here in the United States there was a belief that people of color were inferior to white folks. In some cases it was argued that they were less than human. Some churches actually endorsed this falsehood. Today we know that this is totally untrue. Yet for some, they choose to think and believe otherwise, acting accordingly. For the folks that believe the world is flat, this will not cause us much concern, in fact we chuckle about their denial of the facts. But the false understanding that a person of color is inferior or that our nation is for whites only or even that whites are the persecuted ones in our nation, actually does cause harm, even death and destruction.
Some would say that each of us is allowed to have our own facts. Maybe, but if those facts are so skewed that they impact how we treat one another, then those facts must be challenged. Whether it is in dealing with race, climate change or economic realities, if people are being harmed, marginalized or violence is being encourage against them, then we must boldly speak out and say when wrong is wrong. Being respectful of others and their point of view, doesn’t mean we agree. Therefore it is important that we behave in a manner that is assertive rather than aggressive.
I get very angry when I hear someone say publically or nationally something that is demonstratively false. Just because it makes it on social media, cable news or the radio makes it is factual. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “Silence in the face of evil is evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act!” This was said during the time of the Nazis in Germany.
I believe we are compelled to speak and act against those things we know are wrong. To remain silent, well pastor Bonhoeffer had it right. How we speak out and how we act, I believe is more about saying no to that which is wrong, and less about attacking the one who promotes the wrong. Pity those who cannot judge right from wrong, for they live in a false reality which must be a scary place indeed. Let us not let their fear take away from our hope, their darkness, from the light that we have in Christ.