What is truth? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Or is the truth we know affected by what we know or don’t know, care about or don’t care about?
A recent survey showed that more than half of Australians think the majority of asylum seekers coming to our shores in boats are not genuine refugees. The fact is that over 90% of asylum seekers who arrive by boat are found to be genuine refugees. (http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/r/stat-as.php)
So, if the ‘truth’ is that the majority of people claiming asylum who arrive by boat have their claims upheld, how do we have this pervasive view in the population that they are ‘illegal’ and false?
Because the members of our government repeatedly call them such.
As loathe as I am to resort to the following in fear of invoking Godwin’s Law, one cannot help but quote Joseph Goebbels:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
The lies have been told often and loudly, with such authority that those who do not have the inclination to seek answers from alternative sources have come to believe them as truth.
In addition, dissenting voices in the asylum seeker debate have seen their rights curtailed, their opportunities limited. A weekly ‘briefing’ by the Immigration Minister which was useless at best has now ceased altogether. Journalists seeking access to the detention centres on Pacific islands in which asylum seekers are held while their claims are processed, are now faced with a $8000 fee. Organisations that supported an opposing view to the government have had their funding cut or, if not government funded, have been vilified.
Social media hasn’t helped. I can only imagine what Goebbels could have achieved in these days of Facebook and Twitter where a lie now gets all the way around the world before the truth has had a chance to put its boots on (to paraphrase Mark Twain). If one wishes to push a view, one only needs to create a catchy looking meme or soppy picture with accompanying soppy words or falsify a document to look like the real thing and then send it out into the ether. It matters not if it is based on truth or a lie. People will believe it if they want to and then forward it on. I have tried, when these abhorrent items appear in my newsfeed, to direct the miscreant to the facts but the reality is that it has probably already been further forwarded by other friends before I’ve had a chance to put my metaphorical boots on.
‘News’ travels so fast on this global superhighway, there seems no time for reflection and analysis; there is no attempt to explore the issue further, to obtain information from other sources to determine the veracity of the original piece.
People don’t have time for the truth.
Perhaps they “can’t handle the truth”. (Thanks, Jack.)
For truth is sometimes something we don’t want to hear. Truth is sometimes something that shatters our comfortable world view, shakes our convictions and forces us to evaluate the assumptions on which we base our lives. Sometimes it’s easier to believe the lie and convince ourselves it’s the truth.
But where does that leave us? More importantly, where does that leave the vulnerable ones who are the victims of the perpetuated lie?
What is truth? I honestly don’t know. What I do know, is that truth can only exist in a world of humanity, empathy and love. In a world of cruelty, deceit and hatred, truth is the first casualty.
The truth is out there. If we can keep an open mind and a compassionate heart, we will find it.