“The truth does not care about our governments, ideologies, religions. It will lie in wait…I once would fear the cost of truth. Now I only ask, what is the cost of lies? …every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.” Valery Legasov, Soviet scientist, chair of the Chernobyl Commission.
That debt for the US became due last week; we should learn the lessons. As Legasov documented, governmental pressure and desires often perpetrate unfolding tragedy. We should use our strength not to litigate the ills of the US but remove the scales from our eyes.
At the core of the US insurrection is the lie about the value of human beings. When we believe that some are more valuable than others, we are engaged in an ideological posture. We call it racism in the US but what do we call it here? It leads to structural inequities that affect the quality of lives and the chances of success. When President Donald Trump on November 5, 2020 names Detroit and Philadelphia as cities that should not determine the outcome of elections (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-election/), it is akin to us casting aspersions on Laventille, a place rich in political and cultural history but with people of a certain colour and social class.
When we ignore the plight of those who wait for interminable hours at our hospitals, we too are behaving as though public health does not matter. When the elites get special privileges while others suffer, we too are Marie Antoinette. Martin Luther King lamented “instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque, a cheque that has come back marked “insufficient funds”. Sadly, we too are doing the same to many while blaming the virus.
Last week Neil Sheehan, the Pentagon Papers journalist, died. He was at the epicentre of the famed showdown between the Nixon administration and the press. Locally, we castigate investigative journalism, seek to identify their sources and intimidate such intrepid souls. We give support to narcissists who believe that they alone can save us from destruction. We believe that social media, unfiltered and unverified and driven by algorithms, is better than the well-sourced report. We like and believe “doctors”, who hawk conspiracy theories and divisive positions. Shades of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.
President Trump claimed that he alone could fix the state of the nation and promised to “drain the swamp”. He claimed to do the most for black people. Were these claims ever true?
Ignoring personal history and actions, we too believe the robber talk of some and hail them as patriots. We are simple-minded, trusting folk.
As an imperfect believer, I am deeply disappointed with Christian leaders, here and there, who promote lies. As Romans 1:25 says, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.” Their silence or embrace of politicians for short-term gain sabotage their prophetic voice. Claiming to speak on behalf of God, they feast on ill-gotten wealth but are blind to the needs of the poor.
Let us remove the beam in our eyes before attempting to take the speck from our neighbour’s.