This article is about truth. Truth has taken a severe beating over the past five decades. The failure to give truth its rightful recognition has been a costly abomination. Billions of dollars are and continue to be wasted on unjust wars, in which the lives and limbs of innocent victims are shattered. Hiram Johnson, a Republican Senator in 1917, was quoted as saying, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” World War l was so horrific that it was called “The War to end All Wars.” Our politicians promised that we would disengage from these endless military conflicts. However, this never seems to happen. Hiram Johnson’s quote is the truth, although we would like to think otherwise. Wars and the proliferation of lies that justify and sustain them are birds of a feather. They do FLOCK together. For example, at the beginning of the war in Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson claimed that North Vietnam attacked one of our ships without provocation in the Gulf of Tonkin. He sought permission from Congress to attack them in return. Hence, The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution by which Congress authorized the president to use military force against North Vietnam without a formal declaration of war. Johnson later admitted privately that there was no attack:saying, “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.” (“Freedom of Information Past and Present”. NOW on PBS. KQED. March 17, 2006. Retrieved May 16, 2012.) Over fifty-five thousand American soldiers died in this senseless no-win conflict, especially in light of the fact that Johnson’s justification was a lie. No attack ever occurred. Lie upon lie soon followed, leading to a humiliating defeat and the U.S. betrayal of the devout Catholic president of South Vietnam — a dastardly betrayal that led to his assassination in 1963 on November 2.
Loss of Trust in the Government
The term “The Credibility Gap” was coined by the press in describing the misinformation and lies surrounding our entrance and continued involvement in the Vietnam War. It was at this time (the early 1960’s) that the general public began to become increasingly more mistrusting, not only of Lyndon Johnson, but future presidents as well. President Johnson was the catalyst who fueled the fire of this seething mistrust. His lack of credibility turned ordinary folks against him and those who were responsible for getting us into this “no win” military quagmire. Trust in the government began to unravel. Civil unrest and rebellion against those in authority was increasingly becoming more common. That was back then — the year was 1965 — the year that Vatican II terminated.
Let’s fast forward to the year 2018 and contrast this with what is happening now. Answers to the following questions are needed: Has the Credibility Gap widened or closed over the past four decades? Has our country become stronger or weaker since Lyndon Johnson left the presidency? How can trust in government, which has been seriously maligned, be restored? Where do we go from here?
Transparency: The New Attempt to Build Trust
Today’s buzzword, which has been crafted to win the hearts and minds of a skeptical electorate, is “transparency.” Transparent politicians promise voters that their record will be an open book to which they will have easy access. For instance, politicians often give lip service to the notion that we have a right to know how our tax money is spent. They promise to release documents showing that our tax dollars are allocated properly and that there is no slush fund hidden away for their own personal use. Some politicians are sincere and well meaning. They might intend to be transparent, particularly if they have nothing to hide. However, if they succumb to Satan’s lure, as usually happens once in office, transparency goes out of the window. They become defensive when asked “tough questions,” which if answered truthfully, would expose their wrongdoing. In order to protect themselves, they will repeatedly insist that “they practice what they preach” even though the evidence shows otherwise. One lie is piled upon another. Truth is lost in this deceptive rhetorical shuffle. In this confusion many people’s sense of right and wrong becomes so dulled that they can no longer distinguish between them. Emotions such as guilt, shame, and remorse, which once inhibited lying, no longer scold the conscience when our trusted representatives behave dishonestly. As a result:“Anything Goes!”
The truth of the matter, however, is that our current crop of politicians and leaders are far less transparent then they have ever been. Scandals are rampart; lining their pockets with tax payer money is not uncommon; and telling never ending lies to cover up wrongdoing are common practice. Rhetorical trickery trumps transparency. How many times have we heard a politician claim that he or she had “misspoken” or “made a mistake in judgment” when they were caught with both hands in the cookie jar? “Nice try Mr. and Mrs. Politician!” However, a lie is a lie no matter how hard you try to twist the truth to suit your own needs. For example, cohabitation, living out of wedlock, with your “significant other” sounds acceptable, but it’s a serious mortal sin; “terminating an unwanted pregnancy,” an abortion, is murder — a sin which cries out to heaven for vengeance; and homosexuals cannot “marry” each other, even if the state issues them a license stating that they can. They are in sin and in violation of the natural law.
As the preceding points out, the truth is fast eroding. The accurate reporting of facts is needed now more than ever. Truth must trump evil. Lies must be exposed if we are to save our souls. Satan, however, has other plans. The “Father of Lies” has earned this moniker for good reason. He is the most skilled liar that the world has ever known. In fact, he is so skilled that he can easily convince ordinary people to embrace blatant wrongdoing, believing that what they are doing is right and even noble. If you doubt this, think back to the story of Adam and Eve. The devil told Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would be “like God knowing good and evil.” And Adam followed her into sin. Who would ever think that they could have been tricked so easily by the devil? And they had God on their side.
Saint Paul Warned Us About Fables
Let me come back to my previous point on ordinary people straying away from the truth. Saint Paul, in his epistle to Timothy warns his disciples “to be watchful in all things” and to be careful that “fables” don’t become doctrine:
“Behold: I charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus. Who will judge the living and the dead by his coming and by his kingdom, preach the word, be urgent in season; but out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and teaching. For there will be a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away from the truth and turn aside rather to fables. But be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation, patiently work as a preacher of the gospels, fulfill your ministry (2 tim 4:1-8, my emphasis).
Note that Saint Paul warns his disciples about falling away from the truth and replacing it with self-concocted “fables” as objective reality. Surrounding ourselves with teachers who fill our minds with what we want to hear rather than “sound doctrine” is also a source of caution. Flawed thinking is dangerous because it governs the decisions we make and determines how and why we act in the way we do. Fables are misconceptions. When these are piled upon one another and go uncorrected, corruption soon sets in. Adding more “fables” on to the pile only leads us to an inevitable collapse, creating even greater suffering and the death of our fellow human beings in so many unjust wars. Innocent civilians, who are injured or killed in these wars, are called “collateral damage.” They, too, are the victims of the many lies, which obscure the truth and promote the “fables” leading to societal decay. Satan loves death, that is to say, the death of unrepentant sinners: “But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world” (Wisdom 2:24).
Using rhetorical trickery to try to change objective truth won’t work over the long run. As noted previously, over the past few decades, a number of moral perversions have become the law of the land. Violations of Divine and Natural Law are more flagrant than at any other time in our country’s history. Remember Saint Paul’s warning — ”they will not endure the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away from the truth…” “God will not be mocked” (Galatians 6:7). Unfortunately, we have become so presumptuous that we are now far removed from believing that an all-just God will punish us for any wrongdoing. After all, we are “good people.” The “Father of Lies” continues to encourage us to engage in this kind of self-justification. There will be a terrible cost to pay if we do not repent.
Adam and Eve: Father and Mother of the First Lie
Make no mistake about it. The devil hates the truth. He used a lie, which was cleverly crafted, in order to lure Eve into disobeying God’s command. Moreover, the lie not only destroyed Eve. Once she became corrupted, she influenced Adam to disobey God’s command as well. They committed the first mortal sins attributed to mankind. The devil’s promise that Eve would be like God if she ate the forbidden fruit was an empty lie. Eve lost sanctifying grace for herself and then Adam lost it for himself and all men when he fell as father of men. Such a lie! “Like unto God”? Nay, like unto the devil who “knew evil” when he and his bad angels embraced it. Only Our Lady, by a singular privilege, would be exempt from contracting original sin All others now stamped at conception with original sin come into this world with a wounded nature prone to sin and concupiscence. The Good God sent His son to remedy this. Therefore are we baptized, freed from the guilt of original sin, but not its effects. Jesus is the New Adam and Mary the New Eve: Ave Maria! Ave is Eva backwards.
The First Lie: Original Sin
Prior to becoming the first victims of the devil’s lie, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, the most beautiful place on earth. How happy they were living in this heavenly paradise. However, this all changed when Satan tempted Eve into eating a single apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a tree located in the center in the Garden of Eden. “Wow!” thought Eve. “All I have to do is to eat one apple from that tree and I will be like God.
God told Adam and Eve that they must never eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil tree. But Eve wanted to be like God and to know about good and evil. The fruits on the tree were ripe and delicious looking. The more that Eve ruminated about Satan’s promise, the more attractive the forbidden fruit became. Beside, Eve started to become annoyed with God. She considered the rule to be a silly one. There wasn’t any reason not to allow the forbidden fruit to be eaten. “Why waste such good fruit by letting them rot on the tree?” Eve asked herself. Moreover, as Satan pointed out to Eve, God gave her a free will. Wouldn’t He, therefore, expect her to decide for herself what is right and wrong and to act accordingly. Eve threw all caution to the wind. She disobeyed God and ate the fruit. She then lured Adam into doing the same. Eve fell hook, line, and sinker for Satan’s “sales pitch,” which became the first lie in the history of mankind.
After eating the forbidden fruit, Eve felt guilty. The reward for violating God’s command fell far short of her expectations. Like a sugar covered pastry filled with empty calories, sins look much better than they taste — regret rather than joy follows. Besides guilt, Eve was frightened, anticipating that God would be angry and chastise her for breaking His law. Adam and Eve were young adults. They had no history of behaving sinfully and coping with the emotionally charged turmoil which follows. Sorting out and coping with this myriad of feelings must have been most difficult. God did confront Adam and Eve. They were defensive, Eve blaming the serpent and Adam first blaming her (and then himself) for their violating God’s commandment. However, these excuses were unacceptable. Adam and Eve were exited from the Garden of Eden and punished accordingly. Their relationship with God was badly tarnished. They were then sentenced to a life of hard labor, pain, and death.
Returning to our present day, the disingenuousness of our government officials and those in authority, nationally and globally (there are, to be sure, encouraging exceptions in Poland and Hungary) is accelerating at breakneck speed as lying begets more lying. Even well-meaning people are at each others’ throats. All of this began long ago in the Garden of Paradise. Look where we are today! Where will we be tomorrow? Is it too late to reverse the moral decay, untangle the web devouring us? Or have we fallen too far?
Lastly, as noted at the beginning of this article, we are being fed “fables” as objective reality. We have surrounded ourselves with teachers who preach what “the people” want to hear — teachers who satisfy their lusts, their “itchy ears,” rather than truth. As a whole we have become presumptuous in our thinking, over-rating our “goodness” and under-rating our flaws. Divine and Natural Law are ignored. The road to destruction is wide, Christ said; the path to life eternal is narrow. We cannot believe otherwise as true Christians. It all began with our first parents.. Imagine losing your home and all of the privileges you have been given, all in one day. Your relationship with God, your loving Benefactor, has been compromised unto death. How would you feel? What might you do? What CAN you do? Penance? Yes. God will restore His grace to the penitent. But salvation? No. For that we need a Savior, a God-Man. It is He that “maketh all things new” (Apoc. 21:5).
This might be a good time to read the story of Adam and Eve once more. This will most certainly help us to always tell the truth and to despise the “Father of Lies.”