Some Post-Operation Thoughts or “Is Truth Dead?”

I had my right eye operated on for cataract this morning, six weeks after I had my left done.  I would have had it earlier, but for the intervening trip to Nepal and other commitments. It went rather well and took slightly longer than the first one, but I am positive that I would have close to perfect vision tomorrow. I slept through the afternoon and woke up feeling communicative, hence this piece.

First, Su and I have noticed that my last post on chief executive Election Day under “A New Chapter” with the title “Some Post-Election Thoughts” attracted noticeably fewer readers and absolutely no comments. Su offered two reasons: it could be somewhat political; and more interestingly, there was no visual accompanying the post. Now, I have not been writing my blogs to attract readers, though I cannot deny that readers and their feedback in particular would help keep me going. There are friends – yes, I call them friends – who frankly and unashamedly told me that they would “like” my posts without reading what I have written, so Su could be right about the impact of photos in the social media. We are in an era that is more visual driven which is not surprising, considering that we have always accepted as given that a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Secondly, the relevance of the social media, or Facebook in particular. True, we cannot afford to ignore its impact. Even the Chief Executive Elect has conceded that she needs to learn more about Facebook and how it operates. However, I hasten to say that one must be aware that it could be something of a myth that Facebook is as powerful or pertinent as many people think. The election which returned Trump as President of the most influential country in the world and hence the de facto most important person in the world for now, has revealed that a lot of the traffic in the media could be machine generated and virtual. Trump himself said afterwards and is still very fond of talking about fake news. It makes people wonder whether true and false news can be discernible.

Maybe that has prompted the editors of TIME magazine to select the cover story for the April 3 2017 issue and put on its cover boldly and in red against a black background, “Is Truth Dead?” which design, fonts and presentation followed almost exactly the cover of the April 8 1966 issue, almost 51 years to the day, which cover story was, “Is God Dead?” In the text, Michael Scherere asked, “Can Trump handle the truth?” adding that “a President who peddles falsehoods and dabbles in conspiracy confronts the challenge of governing in reality.”

It seems – it seems to me anyway – that the author of the April 2017 story is asking his readers to address the relevance of Truth in 2017 in similar fashion that his colleague religion editor John Elson had asked readers half a century before to address a movement then (the “God is Dead” movement) in which a number of theologians had been trying to construct a theology without God. Elson’s article generated a lot of heated discussion in the world those days. I recall I was an undergrad then attending retreats organized by Jesuits and the Jesuit priest held out that cover for us all to look at. I couldn’t remember what my response was: I was probably in my formative years.

Still on truth and religion, I made it a point to watch Martin Scorsese’s movie “Silence” after my return from Nepal.  The movie has been attracting mixed reviews since its release in November 2016 and some of my friends in the Catholic communities have been baffled and troubled by the messages they get from the movie. They organized prayer groups, focus groups, lunches and dinners to discuss the film and so on, which I say are in themselves activities conducive to fellowship and views exchange. My view is that Scorsese has made a film on a difficult period for Christians in 17th Century Japan. It is not for me or for anyone to conclude whether the protagonists portrayed in the film had given up their Faith or betrayed their religion. Nobody knows the truth and few people can handle Truth. In my religion, we learn to pray for Faith by which we may hope to become closer to God and to learn about His wishes; and to become more charitable to others.

From Truth and religion, I go back to our daily lives which once again are intractably and intricately entwined with politics. While I applaud the decisions of the Police and the Public Prosecutor to arrest the perpetrators of the Occupy Movement and press charges, I cannot resist suggesting that they could have waited a week or so later to do so, having waited for more than 30 months anyway. Nevertheless, it is high time for such arrests and once again the pan-democrats have painted themselves into a corner and would have to accept the consequences of their action under the rule of law. It is sickening to hear what they are saying about persecution; and it is another indication that not many people, including many who profess to practice fair journalism and to uphold the freedom of the press, would find it difficult and inconvenient to speak out for the truth and to stand up and be counted. Little wonder why TIME asks the question “Is Truth Dead?”  And little wonder why my last posts receive so few likes.

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