What is truth?
Is it something vague we assemble out of our day to day encounters and experiences? The Google search engine, today’s headlines via Yahoo, or a Facebook whitewash of news stories, and we may as well mention the legacy mainstream news sources such as CNN, ABC, and the BBC. Or, is truth something far more tangible that exists outside of our conversations on Snapchat and Messenger?
Today we think we are too busy to bother with an article requiring more than 2 minutes of our time. Maybe, 3 minutes, but, you know, that would be pushing it. There would need to be images attached or a video embedded for us to make the effort. Okay, a little sarcasm, but you know what I mean. Our ability to spend time understanding a story tends to be time dependent, doesn't it? We'd have to be sure we were going to get value. So, let me ask you a question. What value do you place on truth?
It seems to me very few of us do anything that resembles real research anymore. I’m not talking a university degree here. I mean setting aside at least 5 minutes to get to the bottom of a news story. An issue of importance. Really, I mean more than 5 minutes.
We tell ourselves we get all the news we need packaged and presented to us. That's the assumption we are making when we set aside time to watch the news on TV or our phone. If we were asked we might reply well, it must be true or they wouldn’t tell us. What else do we need to know? We trust the journalists who tell the stories.
Everything is fine with this line of thinking, until the stories they tell turn out to be incorrect, and we find out it affects us. Then we face the truth. Our trusted news source must have lied to us knowingly or perhaps unknowingly (just to be charitable) .
Didn’t journalism once profess to bring us THE truth? We hardly hear anything like that said anymore. Apparently. now the essentials of journalism hold that “journalistic truth” is subject to revision. Truth can be melded and reshaped. But hey, don’t worry. it’s still true.
A famous writer—it was Ernest Hemingway—once said this about writers. “A writer’s problem does not change. It’s always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it.”
I know that fiction is a departure from what we regard today as journalism, which is supposed to be about the facts. But Hemingway is talking about the impact of truth on readers, and so we are talking about the same thing.
Without truth are we not all left alone on our own separate desert island? Is that where we want to stay?
Today, we look at our children and we know, hope, that they are the adults of tomorrow. That they will recognize the truth and benefit from it. So we get back to the question. What is the truth? More often than not, the bravest among us are the young. Our children.
Songwriter, performer, and rock star, Kurt Cobain recognized as much and came to the succinct conclusion that “(t)he duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” But how does youth recognize corruption without knowing the truth? What if truth is being censored?
Julian Assange the founder, Editor-in-chief, and director of Wikileaks an organization that’s been a recipient of a number of awards is a clear example of truth being censored. His political persecution is “connected to an intensifying campaign by the US and other governments to impose far-reaching Internet censorship.” In other words, an attempt to hide truth. How do journalists perform their role or do their work in such an environment?
A number of public figures in journalism and filmmaking have stepped forward to speak out for truth, urging freedom for Julian Assange. Some of the names who have called for Assange’s freedom include the following. British film director Ken Loach, Professor of media studies Professor Piers Robinson, Australian filmmaker Curtis Levy, Sue Phillips representing The Public Committee for Education in Australia, British film and television producer Tony Garnett, and numerous other public figures including Australian John Pilger have all spoken out in support of freedom for Assange.
This weekend there will be a major demonstration in Sydney calling for Assange to be given safe passage from England to his home country Australia.
Here’s a little background. The full article is HERE. I recommend you read it. The urgency of the situation for Assange and for all of us if we lose a truth-seeker and speaker like Assange could not be clearer. “Under conditions of a growing international campaign to demand freedom for Julian Assange, Ecuador’s foreign minister has indicated moves are underway to force the WikiLeaks editor out of Ecuador’s London embassy, where he was granted political asylum six years ago.” From the article by Mike Head.
The document (actually the footage from an Apache attack helicopter) that arguably brought Assange and Wikileaks worldwide attention can be found at this link. Some discretion is advised - if we are adults we should be able to handle the truth, right?
As further background, this interview with a US soldier from Bravo Company who was involved in the incident is eye opening, and yes, his testimony will likely not leave you unmoved.
In Australia, there has been wide support shown by the people for Assange to be released. On Sunday, the Australian journalist and BAFTA award wining filmmaker John Pilger will speak in support of Assange’s release at a demonstration in Sydney on June 17th. There is also a vigil to be held outside the Ecuador Embassy in London on June 19th.
Support truth and justice. Support the protection of Julian Assange’s rights under International law and his safe passage to Australia. Support freedom for truth. Stand up for Julian Assange.
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© 2015 by Gerard O'Neill