Oxford Dictionary has named "post-truth" its Word of the Year for 2016. What does this word say about our culture, and what does it mean for you?
[Darris McNeely] After the 2016 United States Presidential election, there’s been a great deal of assessment of what happened, why it happened, and why Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton. It’ll go on for a long time. But there’s one assessment that has taken place that I find to be very interesting. It was in an article that someone passed along to me, and it’s talking about a word that has been named the Word of the Year for 2016 in the aftermath of the election. It’s called “post-truth”. Word of the Year for 2016. Post-truth. Interesting word. A very applicable word to our time, not just for the politics of this year, but for so many other aspects of our culture and our society, as well.
The Oxford Dictionaries have spotted this word as “one of the defining words of our time”, they call it. A post-truth – in other words, we are past a period where truth really matters. “Post-truth,” it says, “has been named the Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionaries because it is a word in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Personal belief, whatever you believe to be true, whatever you want to be true, or whatever your emotions tell you should be true, trumps objective fact, objective truth. That pretty well sums up where we are, folks, in America and other parts of the world, not just America, in this period of 2016. Post-truth politics, they call it. We can also call it post-truth religion and post-truth culture, in many ways, as to its impact upon our world.
Katherine Connor Martin, who is the head of the US Dictionaries at the Oxford University Press, she told the New York Times that “truthlessness is a humorless way of discussing the quality of specific claims. Post-truth,” she said, “is an adjective describing a much bigger thing.” She says, “It’s saying that the truth is being regarded as mostly irrelevant.” Post-truth is saying that the truth is mostly irrelevant. When people go to either present a case, or to assess a situation, making critical decisions. I think that pretty well describes a lot of what we are seeing as we here on Beyond Today monitor politics, religion, and culture in the United States and Australia, Great Britain, and the world today and what is taking place.
What should be your view about truth? What should you be looking for? The Bible has a great deal to say about the subject of truth. If you were to look into the Scriptures and do a search, you will find a great deal of teaching about the truth, loving the truth – even Pilate, when Christ was before him, raised the question, “What is truth?” Christ said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The word of God is truth.
In Isaiah chapter 53, there is a very interesting statement – actually, it’s Isaiah chapter 59 – that talks about truth among the nations, truth among any nation and the importance of it. As the prophet says here, quoting God, it says, “Your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.” Pretty well, again, describing not only Judah of the day of Isaiah, but frankly any nation that we would look at either in that setting, or a modern setting. He goes on in verse 4, “No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.” Isaiah is describing his own day Judah as a post-truth culture. A post-truth time of religion and politics, as well. Judah went into captivity, Judah ceased to exist as a nation. Any nation that enters into a post-truth period where truth is not held to a high degree will suffer the same fate. In verse 13 here of Isaiah 59 it goes on, “In transgressing and in lying against the Lord and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt.” Verse 14 it says, “Justice is turned back, righteousness stands afar off, and truth is fallen in the street.” (Isaiah 59:1-21)
That’s what has happened. And this designation of the Word of 2016 as being post-truth, to describe America, the recent political election, probably a future political election as well – it doesn’t really matter – and any nation’s culture speaks to the spirit of our age and of our time where truth is not held in high regard, and it is a rare commodity. What can you do about that? Well, you may not be able to do too much about it at these levels. But you can do something about it in your own life.
There’s one last psalm. Psalm 15 is a psalm about truth. And it says regarding that type of person who can stand in the presence of God as “he who walks uprightly and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2). Strive to speak the truth in your heart. Don’t get caught up in a post-truth world, post-truth society, where emotion trumps facts. Look for truth, live the truth, let the truth reign in your heart.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.