Say What’s True: What Would Wouldn’t Do

What would, would not.

And could, couldn’t go.

Or as we say down home,

Can’t never could. And also?

What you get is what you get.

I never could make sense of ain’t got no. 

But always, ever after,

we don’t know what we don’t know. 

Just a little Appalachian shade for President who knows “all the best words,” but suddenly thinks we’re going to buy that he “misspoke” at a press conference after a ShadyAF secret meeting with one of our country’s biggest adversaries.

I’ll take a double negative for $200, Alec!

Sure, this president speaks fluent gibberish. It should make perfect sense that “would” means “wouldn’t.” And no means yes; up is down; blue is the new orange (because everything is orange). ETC. So he misspoke, what’s the big deal?

Except, we all know that is not what happened. First of all, he confirmed what he meant in both his body language and expression; for a guy who claims to be tough, everything about him is compliant when he’s around Putin. Furthermore, he literally confirmed his statement and his intention in a follow-up convo with Hannity. But mostly—we know he meant what he said, because his capacity to speak nonsense is surpassed only by his proclivity to lie, to cover his own assets, and to twist the narrative until nobody knows which way is up anymore.

He said what he said, and he meant it the first time. His ability to distort truth and polarize the population is every bit as concerning as the Russia ties. When nobody trusts anybody any more—politicians, media, even friends and family on the other side of the party line—that’s how dictators are born. They move into the void created by public discord (which they’ve often created and exploited in the first place) and by then the population has lost its ability to rally in its own interest. There’s too much division and everything is chaos. The narrative of civilization in complete disarray, the power of the liar-in-chief is absolute.

I’d like to think we aren’t quite there yet … but it’s way too close for comfort.

I call my reps—yes, even the uber-Republican ones who are totally in his ill-fitting pocket (I’m looking at you, Kevin Yoder). I tell them we expect them to do their jobs, to enforce checks and balances, to put country over party. I work to vote them out next time.

But in the meantime, keeping our spiritual health in this post-truth dimension … What’s most concerning is the ability to isolate his small-but-still-solid base of support from anything resembling truth.

I’m not saying that any of us know the whole story of how deep this toxic waste really runs, and we may never know the whole story of who is involved and for what ends. But we can see in plain daylight that he looks at the camera and says: “You didn’t hear what you think you heard,” and an alarming number of people believe him. The master gas lighter.

There’s no political quick fix to this level of deceit. We can keep using the threads of democracy left to us; keep pushing social media channels like FB to shut down fake news. And we can keep refusing to ride the wave of propaganda that spins from certain networks.

But maybe the greatest act of resistance we can engage at this moment is this: say what is true.

I’ve been at a church meeting the last two days. For closing worship there were a bunch of tags with different words and phrases on them, and the instructions were to “pick the one that represents a gift you brought with you.” Seemed like this one was calling my name.

Tell the truth in your own life; insist on truth from people who love you; and surround yourself with Things That Are True. Things that make sense, that cannot be contested in any court of law or on any theological or ideological plane.

No, this is NOT permission to hide your head in the sand and say, “I wish we could all stop talking about politics and post more cat pictures!” Zero of that. Stay engaged and aware. Speak truth to power in big ways, but it’s also important to speak to the smaller truths of your own lived experience. After all, that’s what this administration is trying to take away from us: the ability to speak truth and have it be heard as such.

So speak some truth, every day. Even if it’s in a small circle. Even when nobody listens, even when it’s painful, even when you feel you’re just shouting into the void.

To speak truth, we have to be grounded in it. Find true things, and be present in those things. Dig deep and put your roots there. Love your people. Get outside and touch dirt. Sun on your face is important.

Listen to music. Actual music and not just top 40 garbage on the radio. Lay eyes on some art. Ffs, read a book. A real one, with pages. Like from the library. Song and story  will always speak truth into whatever rambling incoherence surrounds us otherwise.

Make dinner. Visit a neighbor. Play on the swings. Air and light; people and food; the earth itself. These things will always be true, however false our leaders or our systems and structure turn out to be.

And also–pray. Not as some empty sanctimonious gesture, but as an act of faith that God is both with us in this world, but also Truth beyond it. Bigger and greater than anything else that we can see or touch or know as reality.

Seek truth daily. Speak truth daily. This is my mantra, for such a time as this. I’d love to hear your truth, too. Rage on.

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