Living Truth in a Lying Culture
I continue commentary on excerpts from Rod Dreher’s book Live Not By Lies. Here the author discusses the means and costs of standing up for truth in a culture built upon lies.
In time, a mere writer willing to suffer for truth took power from totalitarian zealots who marshaled an entire state in the service of lies. In the happy fate of Havel, we see the truth of an old Russian proverb, beloved by Solzhenitsyn: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.” It is up to us today to take up this challenge, to live not by lies and to speak the truth that defeats evil. How do we do this in a society built on lies? By accepting a life outside the mainstream, courageously defending the truth, and being willing to endure the consequences. These challenges are daunting, but we are blessed with examples from saints who’ve gone before.
Havel is Václav Havel, who is (from the Britannica site is:
Václav Havel, (born October 5, 1936, Prague, Czechoslovakia [now in Czech Republic]—died December 18, 2011, Hrádeček, Czech Republic), Czech playwright, poet, and political dissident, who, after the fall of communism, was president of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and of the Czech Republic (1993–2003).
We have already met Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. If you had suggested ten years ago that these two courageous freedom fighters against totalitarianism would become relevant, contemporary guides for the United States’ situation I would have laughed. But the tragic truths that we need to now listen with the greatest focus and seriousness to their testimony.
As Christians, we also must not listen and learn from those heroes of the faith from Soviet Russia (emphasis added).
To be a Baptist in Soviet Russia was to know that you were a permanent outsider. They endured it because they knew that truth was embodied in Jesus Christ, and that to live apart from him would mean living a lie. For the Baptists, to compromise with lies for the sake of a peaceful life is to bend at the knee to death. “When I think about the past, and how our brothers were sent to prison and never returned, I’m sure that this is the kind of certainty they had,” says the old pastor. “They lost any kind of status. They were mocked and ridiculed in society. Sometimes they even lost their children. Just because they were Baptists, the state was willing to take away their kids and send them to orphanages.
These believers were unable to find jobs. Their children were not able to enter universities. And still, they believed.” The Baptists stood alone, but stand they did. If you have been discipled in a faith that takes seriously the Apostle Paul’s words that to suffer for Christ is gain and are prepared, as the Orthodox Kaleda family was, to live with reduced expectations of worldly success, it becomes easier to stand for the truth.
Our experience of living in a successful, bountiful, narcissistic society has robed many of us of any real courage, any ability to embrace suffering as a moral good in the face of evil. Our continued peace, enjoyment and comfort trump all considerations of resistance to the evil lies that now surround us, even from the pulpits of our sanctuaries. We feel helpless and alone in our workplaces, social organizations and our churches.
That is just what the Progressive totalitarians who have captured all the institutions and high places in our society want us to think. But they currently are not even 1% as powerful as were their ideological ancestors in the Soviet Union or now in Communist China.
He is concerned by polls showing that Americans’ support for the First Amendment—which guarantees the constitutional right to free expression—is waning, especially among younger Americans, who are increasingly intolerant of dissenting opinion. Grygorenko sees this as a sign that society prefers the false peace of conformity to the tensions of liberty. To grow indifferent, even hostile, to free speech is suicidal for a free people.
Not everyone is in a position in which they can speak and write freely without destructive consequence. Yes, the dangers are real and present. Yes, each person must consider issues beyond immediate statements and actions. But yes, be it only in the voting booth, only in silence rather than supporting lies, or in open, active resistance, we must stop this evil in its tracks. The sooner this is accomplished the less will be the damage that must be repaired to recover a decent society.