Resisting the torrent of lies

by Rob Tiller

Lake Mattamuskeet

Lake Mattamuskeet

This has been a Black Mirror week, starting as seeming comedy and then becoming terrifying.  It’s been discombobulating to hear a President of the United States issue a nonstop barrage of falsehoods and shameless lies. It’s hard to know how to react to the proliferating falsehoods with no connection to reality, and lies so transparent they hardly seem intended to deceive.  

It’s not that I’m a truth and honesty absolutist.  The border areas of truth are sometimes fuzzy,  and most of us sometimes bend it about a bit.  But most of us recognize honesty as a core value, and truth as a meaningful ideal.  People known to show no concern for truth or to intentionally deceive with lies are not ordinarily given positions of trust and authority.  They are regarded with suspicion and contempt.  

So we’re in unknown territory, and it’s hard to get your bearings.  Do some people actually believe the Administration’s outrageous falsehoods? Perhaps supporters regard them more  as pleasing and harmless works of fiction.  This would be understandable, but unwise.  As pleasant as it may be to disconnect from reality, there are life and death problems that must be addressed.

a great egret

A great egret

Part of what’s frightening here is the sheer quantity of the falsehoods and lies. They’ve been coming in a torrent.  Before we’ve processed one, there’s another, and then another.  You’d hope that such constant lying would lead quickly to a loss of credibility and effectiveness.

But the torrent is exhausting.  Trying to unpack all the lies takes too much time. There is no craft in these lies, no careful calculation of how to conceal reality, so they can be generated very quickly.  It takes much longer to fact check them than to make them.  So we can’t catch up.  And it’s exhausting to try.  The effort takes lots of brainpower, and leaves us with not enough time or energy to think deeply about real problems.  It gets harder to think critically.  Our brains get muddled.

It could be a brilliantly evil strategy to subjugate us, though more likely, there is no strategy.  Either way, it’s dangerous.  We could easily find ourselves losing our bearings, more and more confused, less and less sure of our facts and our values, depleted, disheartened, and unable to resist.

Tundra swans

Tundra swans

So, we’ll need  fortification as we prepare for the resistance.  I’m trying to stay healthy and looking out for old and new sources of strength and wisdom.  For me, friends, books, and music help. In these dark times, I particularly treasure encounters with generous spirits.  

Apropos, this week I listened to an interview of Maria Popova on the podcast On Being hosted by Christa Tippett.  Popova (pronounced pa-POE-va) is the creator of BrainPickings,  where she shares thoughts on her wide-ranging reading.  I don’t find all of her subjects equally interesting, but she’s amazingly curious, creative, and thoughtful —  full of ideas and reflections.  She also seemed like a person with a really good heart.    

This week I’m departing from my usual custom of posting my favorite photographs from the previous week.  Instead, these are ones I took a couple of weeks ago iat Lake Mattamuskeet and nearby areas in eastern N.C.  As I’ve learned more about how to make  a digital image sing with Lightroom and Photoshop, my standards for considering an image adequately finished have risen, and it takes more time to get there.  

If you enjoy nature photography, you might like  It’s a site where professional photographers and skilled enthusiasts use the site to share  amazing images from all over the planet.  I’ve been spending more time there lately just looking, quietly absorbed and getting inspired.