Archive for the ‘witness’ Tag

the truth makes all the difference

The 8th commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” is, at best, an ethical minimum. Can, should, this basic truth—don’t lie—be drawn out more broadly to include such ideas as protecting the dignity of a person, or the duty to represent truthfully what one has seen or what one has heard?

The answer, I would argue, is a resounding yes. The 10 Commandments, presented to us by Moses in the Hebrew Bible, set forth a minimum standard of behavior. Christ came and fulfilled the Old Covenant, and in turn elevated the moral standards first found in the 10 Commandments. In Matthew 5, or the “Sermon on the Mount,” Christ presents these new moral standards.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’

But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Matthew 5: 21-22

Christ takes what is a simple commandment—do not kill—and elevates it, elevates us—to a higher standard of behavior. Not only may we not kill our fellow brother—we must not be angry with him or harbor resentment toward him.

Similarly within the command “do not bear false witness against your neighbor” lies the elevated command to present the truth with accuracy, with conviction, and most importantly, with love.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2464) draws out this idea further (emphasis added):

“The 8th commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and who wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this case, they undermine the foundations of the covenant.”

So when, during a hearing to garner the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the cause of the attack with, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” I thought about this call to witness to the truth. And frankly, I would argue that the truth makes all the difference.

Lately the truth has been difficult to glean from a majority of principal news outlets.

Take, for example, the Gosnell case, which was largely ignored until Kirsten Powers’ courageous article in USA Today. After a virtual outcry on Twitter, more news outlets began to pick up the story; Fox News has even aired a special on the case. The details of the case are horrific, disturbing, nauseating. But the truth is important. The truth is necessary.

There is a similar dearth of coverage regarding the House Committee’s hearing on Benghazi, which took place on Wednesday. Only one of my usual three radio programs mentioned the hearing during my drive to work on Thursday. Senator Marco Rubio was a guest on one news program, and acknowledging the general lack of news coverage, he thanked this particular program for allowing him to speak about the hearing. His comments regarding the hearing were insightful, especially when he thoughtfully noted, “This is not about politics. This is about accountability.”

I applaud Senator Rubio for speaking out. Cases like Gosnell and Benghazi matter. The content is difficult to discuss, because it brings to the forefront all of the worst parts of ourselves that we seek at all costs to cover up. We have created a culture of death, “men without chests” as C.S. Lewis wrote, yet we are shocked when we see evil in our world. Our response to evil is more shocking than the evil itself—cover it up! Don’t talk about it. It’s too disturbing. It’s too political.

So what happens when the usual news outlets, or the people charged with providing the truth, purposefully misrepresent the truth (what seems to be the case in the Benghazi terrorist attack) or simply ignore the story altogether (as was the case with the Gosnell trial)?

Then we must demand the truth. Kirsten Powers’ article shamed the mainstream media into covering, or at least mentioning, the Gosnell trial. The “Break the Gosnell Media Blackout” Twitter campaign was largely effective. We must use whatever tools we have as individuals, whatever platforms, whatever influence, and demand the truth. When these stories aren’t being covered, we should call into the major news outlets and ask why every word of the Jodi Arias case is discussed on the evening program, but not a word is mentioned about the House Committee hearing on Benghazi? And, equally as important, we should take time to thank the news outlets, journalists, and individuals who put their careers on the line to speak the truth. Let them know that we want the truth and that we are grateful when people take risks to bring it to us.

This is about accountability. We need to continue to hold each other lovingly accountable for our wrongs. If we can look evil in the face, if we can call it out of the darkness and name it, then we can move forward and try to ensure that atrocities like the Gosnell clinic and tragedies like the terrorist attacks in Benghazi don’t happen ever again. It is not enough to live out our morality individually. We must demand the truth.

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32

Bob Rice

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