“The most valuable thing in the world is the truth,” said Winston Churchill. “The most powerful weapon in the world is the truth,” said Andrei Sakharov, the man who gave the Soviets the atomic bomb. “God is Truth and Truth is God,” said Mahatma Gandhi. From its value, to its power, to its deification, even as an abstract category truth becomes the final question in any conflict. Yet, again and again we find ourselves uncertain as to what truth means and why it matters. “What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilot impatiently . . . and walked away, without waiting for an answer. The irony is that he was standing in front of the one Person who, as the personification and embodiment of the Truth, could have given him the answer.
In the musical play by Andrew Lloyd Webber The Phantom of the Opera, the Phantom sings a beautiful piece titled “The Music of the Night.” One of the lines intimates that under cover of darkness it is easy to pretend that the truth is what each one of us wants it to be. When there is no light held to our version of the truth to call our bluff, we confuse what is with what we think ought to be, and infuse “the ought” with our own ideas to make it what we want it to be. Truth is that foundational reality we often resist but that, ultimately, we cannot escape. Nothing is so destructive as running from the truth, even as we know it will always outdistance us.
Tragically, we seem to be in a time in our cultural history when we no longer care about this question whatsoever. Seduced by a terminology carried by a media that distorts, we willingly, it seems, buy into a lie. From the news to the weather to advertising to entertainment, we are sold feelings, not truth. It seems that our societal trend is pursuing an imaginary universe that will finally bring us all together.
And all this is done in dark theaters or in the privacy of our own homes, giving us the illusion of being entertained while we are actually being indoctrinated by ideas that are deliberately planted within us.
What we are witnessing, at the very least, is that the propensity within us to blur the lines between what is real and what is imagined has been deliberately taken advantage of by fiction writers and especially movies. Stories can alter one’s way of viewing things. The playwright or author is no longer writing the play or the story. The play or the story is writing the playwright or author. And, in turn, the playwright and the play rewrite our own stories. This is the real world of our time. The world of entertainment has become the most powerful means of propaganda, and the audience is unaware of how much it is being acted upon and manipulated, paying for it not only in cash but in having its dreams stolen.
Adaptation from Ravi Zacharias