Friday, January 18, 2013

Creating a Culture of Truth

The news about Notre Dame's Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend (a scheme that strung along the ND senior including her death of all things) should not surprise anyone who understands the great blinder that the internet is to genuine community.  Here, one can be anonymous, one can become a whole other person with an avatar to match.  One also can create an identity anew.  The problem with the internet world is ultimately just that, it is not real. Lennay Kekua was not real. 

We may never know the why of such a calculated and cruel deception, for the purveyors of this hoax behaved in a way that can also only be described as unreal.   It doesn't make sense to the natural laws in our hearts, to lie over and over again this way to someone about something as important, as lovely, as vital as love.

The only one who is real in this story, is Manti, as he felt real feelings including infatuation, grief and possibly great shame at being duped. Even his complicity if there is any is real.  He may have known and not spoken in an attempt to recover from what would be and now is, a public shaming for falling prey to people with evil intent.  He will have to live with the public memory of being either part of a scam, or being the victim of a scam.  If the first, he will have the hard road of remorse and recovery and the reality that some will never trust him again.  If the later, then he will have the hard road of recovery with the reality that some will never believe him in the first place. Either way, it is a hard road. 

Lance Armstrong also faces the road, a road known to be of his own making.  Was any of his triumph story real?  Did he win the first Tour de France without doping?  Would we believe it?  What is the proper response to such a protracted, calculated, destructive lying pattern?  For a society? He now joins all those baseball greats eligible for the Hall of Fame that no one wants to vote for, because we don't know how much of what was accomplished was real, and how much was chemically enhanced. 

We have before us two choices, life and death.  If we learn nothing else from these famous figures falling in the lime light, it is that truth always matters.  Truth even as unbearable as it might seem --I was scammed, I can't win it, is understandable in  a way that a lie, even a reasonable one, (to protect self, to protect prospects, to protect whatever), is not.  We can understand the reality of being fooled, of not being able to accomplish something and the heart break of both much better than the decision to rig the game.  

So what can we do to create a Culture of Truth?

1) Pray for all of these men, because they will really need grace to get through this, this is a tough storm to be stuck in the middle of, whether of their own designs or not. 

2) Take away what is good, discard the rest.  Live Strong isn't a bad lesson.  It is carpe diem so to speak for the modern age, but know what strength is. Strength is truth and strength is work.  Strength requires trust that life is not all about our own orchestration of the events, but about our choices and reactions to things we did not control, and about knowing when we should not control outcomes. 

3) Fasting. We are a culture addicted to approval and acknowledgement, so desperate for recognition, we've invented twitter so we may highlight to the world our every passing thought no matter how banal.   Fasting from the spotlight, whether it is National television or the pre-school parking lot, we will step away from the addictive narcotic Narcissism that is so easy to inhale in today's world. 

4) Do something real for someone else, something that takes thought, effort, energy and time.  We live in a gift card world of email ease, write a real letter, cook a meal, set flowers on the table, cultivate beauty through the gift of your own creativity, rather than the flash of a credit card. 

5) Practice something you stink at, allow failure to be ignored.  (My guitar and piano sit lonely most of the time), so I'm making myself suffer through the process for twenty minutes a day. It is not pretty but there is an appreciation in the moment when I hear a section of it "getting better." Play a game you don't normally win, without cheat codes or extra lives.  Learn to accept that all of this is a process and not a performance or a quest for perfection, it s a perpetual quest to become more real.

6) Engage in charity, both in deed and thought.  It doesn't matter if it doesn't make the news, it shouldn't. Being a giver to others is the antidote to the smoke of narcissism that can lead to big and little lies, can lead to preferring the non real world to that which matters most. Make gratitude and generosity the norm in your family's life by constantly cultivating it in yourself.  Let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the directing. 

7)  To grow deeper in love, we must be life long strugglers. If we would be life long learners and lovers of others, we don't ever finish or reach the pinnacle, there is no finish line.

Ultimately, the end result of all of this, will not stop everyone from being seduced by glory or their 15 minutes of fame, but it will help make the world a bit lighter than all the false glow of fake victories. 


Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge said...

Number 3 and 4 are especially resonant for me now over 1 and a half months into a facebook and twitter "fast." Why post facebook pics of my kids for relatives to see when I have the ability to bring them the real thing...

My life feels more authentic because it is now. I am having real conversations with real people in real time. And that requires a certain measure of truthfulness.

LarryD said...

I don't know how I managed to miss this post earlier, but I'm glad I came back and found it. Good stuff, thought-provoking stuff.

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