“TRUTH Decay” is a book by Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich that discusses the “diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life.” I am borrowing the title to point out the same is happening in Philippine public life.
Cuban essayist Anais Nin was right: “We do not see the world as it is but as we are.” We see it through the lens of personal filters that naturally focus on truths that are convenient to us. Truth decay happens when we insist the convenient truth we see through our personal lens is the whole truth and we reject as untrue the convenient truth others see through their own personal lens.
These days few seem motivated to look at other people’s convenient truths. Worse still, many who reject other people’s convenient truths communicate their rejection in highly toxic language. Even friends are disagreeing so nastily that truth readily decays in the rotten language used.
What is the truth of the government’s fight against Covid-19? Yellows would answer with aspects of the truth that promote their chances in the next elections. Reds would answer with aspects of the truth that would incite people to join their rebellion.
What is the truth about ABS-CBN? We might never know as nobody is coming forward to say, “Look, let’s gather the facts and analyze them together.” Instead people are putting up stakes to defend their contradicting facts and corresponding convenient interpretations.
What is press freedom? Is it freedom to speak the truth or our own convenient version of the truth? Maria Ressa ironically claims loss of freedom even as she fires away to the world without fear and reservation her own convenient versions of truth.
What is true of the drug war? The Vice President’s convenient truth is 7,000 extra-judicial killings. Yet no independent body is collecting raw data on the number and manner of deaths which offhand cannot possibly be all extrajudicial.
What is the truth in the President’s State of the Nation Address? As in everything, there’s good and bad in it. But the opposition will certainly pick the bad as their convenient truth and dismiss the good as the “stupid and dumb” convenient truth of the President’s supporters... and vice versa so the twain will never meet.
Worst of all that which really matters is set aside, the ugly truth of the poverty of millions of Filipinos and the uglier truth that the country is the world’s prime source of children commercially trafficked for sex. These people can’t care less for the freedom we quarrel about. For them freedom is in a full stomach.
So again, why don’t we organize a non-partisan think tank to get us to the inconvenient bottom truth? We are not getting anywhere with our nasty exchange of convenient truths.