Truth Lookout

edifiedlistener

Truth is slippery in certain folks’ hands. I say

I’m looking for truth and what I mean is that I’m expecting

an insight I can connect with,

a plausibility that makes strong common sense.

My ears are open for that deep, drumming undertone that I felt before I could actually hear it.

I long for one clear explanation

a sermon on the mount to relieve all my worries that I might be

out of my mind and yours, too.

Ed Yong writes that America Is Trapped In A Pandemic Spiral and he’s correct it seems to me.

I want to clap, say Amen and ‘Truer words were rarely spoken”

He produces a laundry list of reasons why America, home of the brave, is marching resolutely in unwitting pursuit of its own demise. Like ants in a circular death march. The comparison is apt and painful.

In a country that seems to prefer off/on switches rather than dimmers or dials for EVERYTHING including thought patterns, it makes sense that

“Showiness is often mistaken for effectiveness.”

“Fixing systemic problems is more difficult than spewing moralism, …”

“…we started working our way through a serial monogamy of solutions, and, like spiraling army ants, marched forward with no sense of the future beyond the next few footsteps.”

That feels truthful. full of truth.

From where I sit and where I stand

I can know what it means to live in a country where the virus is managed, where health care is part of the package, where a pandemic federal response exists and can take effect. It’s not perfect but at least we know what works. And those are the things that get done.

Meanwhile, I read.

This time about feminism. Not in the abstract, not in the upper echelons of corporate management, no, feminism that is much closer to home, the kind I grew up around, the kind my mother and grandmother and aunts raised me in: Hood Feminism. A survival and every-day feminism of poor folks, working folks, queer and trans folks, Black, brown and Indigenous folks. I was familiar with academic feminism, with ‘we need more women CEOs’ feminism which felt like yeah-I-get-it-but-that’s-not-me feminism.

Reading Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism feels like a homecoming. She takes on everything from gun violence to housing to health care to eating disorders and explains how white feminism has managed to sidestep or purposefully limit the scope of concern about topics that affect a much higher proportion of women in the US and the world.

Over and over again, Mikki Kendall illustrates all the reasons mainstream (read white and middle class) feminism has failed women who do not fit that demographic, particularly women of color and poor women.

“…you can’t “lean in” when you can’t earn a legal living wage and you still need to feed yourself and those who depend on you.” (p. 36)

“Why is it that we’re more inclined to create programs to combat obesity than ones that meaningfully address hunger?” (p. 37)

“We expect marginalized voices to ring out no matter what obstacles they face, and then we penalize them for not saying the right thing in the right way.” (p.134)

“…the reality is that white, mainstream feminism has to confront the idea that the power to do harm rests in women too.” (p. 165)

“The fact is that harm-reducing votes of marginalized people will never be enough to outweigh the stupidity of white people who vote for racism at their own expense.” (p. 183)

So much truth!

I call it a felt truth. An undercurrent truth, the kind that runs through arteries – makes a heart keep beating. Experience truth.

Black girl woman experience truth. American truth. Slippery truth. Threatened-to-be-ignored-dismissed-overlooked Black girl woman American truth.

When Ed Yong is describing the American hankering for normalcy, the insistence on either/or framing, a media and public resistance to embracing necessary complexity, I hear reality speaking. I recognize the commanding voice of grade school film strips and pledge-of-allegiance-first holiday ceremonies. I know that America he’s talking about. I am a product.

An export.

Like most folks I want to believe that I will know truth when I see it.

For now I’d rather be honest.

Quantities of truth have not saved us so far. There’s more truth than we know what to do with. We’re not acting on the truths of climate destruction (we can really dispense with “change” by now). We’re not acting on the truth that rampant inequality is a societal design feature not a bug. So many truths!

Qualitative truth? Is that a thing? Should it be?

Truth with a quality that causes us to bend, to stretch, to reach, to remember.

These truths, the ones I feel and have felt, that have kept and keep me alive. I’m holding onto those and finding mirrors where I can.

Truth doubled makes me braver.

Faking it has made it

205h

This will likely be a short and quick post*. I am

  • amazed
  • devastated
  • appalled
  • mystified
  • overwhelmed
  • astounded

at the position we as a world find ourselves in currently. I say “world”because although I refer to the current governance developments taking shape in the no-longer-quite United States, we as a world are bound to pay the price on more levels than we can perhaps appreciate right now.

I hold US citizenship but live in Europe. I am far away from the full on day-to-day media saturation trumpeting news of the president elect and his cabinet under construction. That said, even at this distance, my anxieties and fears are being confirmed and inflamed regarding the direction public (and soon-to-be private) affairs are headed, for vulnerable and marginalized populations in particular.

And so it is with great dismay and shock that I come to terms with this notion of “post-truth,” although I already alerted friends to call me out if I publicly register disbelief at the emerging state of affairs.

What I am struggling with is the notion of how hard we will all have to work to separate lies from truth, particularly those coming from “official” sources. I like to fancy myself a fan of critical thought, of deeper than surface level research and exposition – but really, if I need to become a full time investigator for every.single.claim. that comes out of the White House and all related agencies – I am sunk.

With each new morsel of “news” we literally have to ask ourselves: Is this real? Because the possibility, no, likelihood that it is fake has never been higher. Fake news is at an all time high in popularity both for generators as well as for consumers. It creates profit! Which means that it is here to stay. And members of the incoming US leadership are high rollers in the fake news market.

Let that sink in. We can never assume that anyone with any bit of significant authority in the highest levels of US government is telling the truth. About anything. We cannot rely on traditional media to have done (or to do) their due diligence in reporting (because faster gets more clicks; viral makes money).

Christine Xu writes about the spread of rumors in China in support of the then Republican candidate for President and suggests:

The spread of small falsehoods and uncertainty is murkier, more organic, and much harder to undo. The distortions of reality come in layers, each more surreal than the last. Fighting it requires more than just pointing out the facts; it requires restoring faith in a shared understanding of the truth. This is the lesson Americans need to learn, and fast.

As the election fallout becomes denser and less readily navigable, this information uncertainty arises like an unexpected plague – a virus we struggle to diagnose, let alone treat. This is what I was not prepared for: having to fight for the truth, a genuine truth.

In my own world, I’m still a fan of integrity – in individuals and groups, in institutions. I see now that I can add this to my list of ‘things to fight for’.

Here’s the opening to a Twitter thread that helped my thinking mainly by sounding the alarm bells:

And this thread left a similar mark covering the same maneuver.

Part of the lesson here for me is to stop being surprised. Rather, I am charged with being cautious and vigilant. The deeper, more serious challenge becomes one of remaining open to trust: of my neighbors, my colleagues, acquaintances and friends.

So let us all pause, take a deep breath and realize where we are and what this means. I suspect those of you who have been reading dystopian sci-fi are feeling less aghast than others of us. Help us out. Be patient.

Let’s cull and curate our sources carefully. Which means we may need to slow down to do it.

 

* I may have believed this when I started writing but it is no longer the case. Not short, not quick, not the truth. It was in fact, unlikely. #fulldisclosure