America’s Struggle with Truth: Divided by Ideology & Party

President Richard Nixon & Johnny Cash, 1970

September 17, 2021

In the 1970s, when America was divided by the Vietnam War,  singer/songwriter Johnny Cash gave his performance in the East Room of the White House at the invitation of President Nixon. 

To the American people, and Nixon himself, Cash would come to address, through a simple selection of songs, a message to the powerful. What is Truth has become a famous Cash title as it was directed toward Nixon. It was mixed in with a list of other Cash titles at this famed performance, some of which Nixon had personally requested. Yet, it stood out due to the setting and clear-toned values of its message. 

Between the fanfare of the press surrounding those songs Cash did not play at the performance, and through the lyrics of this one title, Cash called out Nixon, failing to meet the controversial president’s expectation of Cash as a political proxy to the everyman.

The song known as What is Truth becomes an anthem of a kind to the various political movements of young America. Standing up to “the Man” as did Cash has become a novel thing.  Youths ponder it, they march for it, they will burn and loot cities for it. Yet, have they ever found the answer to this solemn question. Truth becomes more about the novelty of defending a belief than questioning the validity of one’s beliefs and opening the mind to what might better the society as a whole. 

What is Truth? 

As it relates to America, what is this national Truth? What are the ties that bind a union so divided? In this Digital Age, propaganda is more abundant than stable food sources. What does Truth mean to the American masses? 

What does Truth mean to the Afghanistan citizen who witnessed a failed nation-building from a poorly defined American presence, and an equally scattered, leaderless, and allegedly corrupt Afghan government? 

The question of Truth burns for every society. Every society has its version of events. From Rome to the Chinese Communist regime, to the Ayatollahs of post-Revolution Iran, and, yes, to the U.S. Federal government, each falsely believes themselves to be the superior nation. Each believes that they have perfected something that all the others have failed at before. All of these abandon the will of the people for the pursuit of their greatness, believing it is their greatness that secured their position. All along, it was the will of the everyman that put them in power, whether through a weak society or a strong, free-thinking one. It is the moral responsibility of the people to their society that decides their kings, not the other way around. 

All of these regimes pass through the fire at some point. Some are consumed by it, others reform under a new face. Meanwhile, the will of the people endures. The will of the people and the human experience continues to triumph over the weaker members of each social age.  

This is because of the fact that the values making humans equal and free rise to meet the challenges of corruption in every age. Truth and not Party is our Phoenix. The ashes of society see their constant reprisal on those burning wings. 

The way of Truth is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It comes no other way than through self-evidence. It comes only by recognizing that there are fixed constants to our World that no governing force, no matter how great, can change. 

The fire that tests all regimes comes from its ignition source. Those nations who adapt to regime leadership, suppose that truth is upheld by institutional values. Those natural rebels believe resistance to be the truth, and they will follow it to death. Conflicts rise from this clash of the accepting and the unaccepting, but none of them possess the truth inherently. 

Whether they align themselves behind political, religious, or other group creeds, no one group is ever able to define fully what truth is. Rather, they define simply what is wrong and inherently false about their counterpart. Social responsibility trickles down to the place where the conscious citizen thinks to define truth and liberty for all, not only those he/she agrees with. 

Defining Truth 

Oxford defines truth as a “fact or belief that is accepted as truth.” It is also described as a state of being “in accordance with fact or reality.” In the same breath, Oxford defines “fact” as “ a thing that is known or proved to be true,” or “information used as evidence.” 

This exposes a fundamental problem of modern truth wars. That is, that truth is a self-defining factor. That any evidence can support the collective understanding of truth. That a belief that is held strongly enough can be defined as true. That something proven with enough “facts or sincerity” somehow becomes true and then must dictate society. 

Suppose for all future arguments that truth itself is a constant, lonely pursuit. That no one Party can possess it. Instead, “truths” for social cooperation then, are those realities that have reached a mutually beneficial consensus. 

In the preamble to the American constitution, the truth that is “self-evident,” meaning that it has defined itself without needing to be proven or defended by a partisan force, is that all human beings are “created equal.” As such, they are entitled to “certain unalienable rights.” 

For the sake of America’s future, then, returning to this base definition for the sake of all Americans becomes an essential part of accepting what truth means for an American collective whole. All Americans are equal and are entitled to certain unalienable rights. Truth, in American reporting at least, should then mean reportage, or the relay of public facts and realities, that benefit Americans as a general whole.

Lonely Voice of Truth 

The future of truth will be lonely. It will not be celebrated by any institution, nor will it be protected by any organization. 

Partisanship, in the name of truth, will trample the soul of that thing that raises its flags. “Truth,” they continue to cry as they burn buildings in the names of their martyrs. “For the truth,” they will say as they continue to stifle voices to trim the fat from the elephants in the room. 

They will continue to sing the praises of those they have chosen as heroes. Joe Biden will be celebrated as the “man who ended the war in Afghanistan” while the blood drips from the many doorposts of sacrificed Afghans. Biden, for the sole virtue of not being Trump, will be canonized with this value. The Republican Party has been guilty of doing the same thing for its own heroes, which are, in the end, mere people as are the rest of us. To canonize another fallible human is not prudent for the society as a whole. 

You see what’s going on, don’t you? It is no longer about defining the value that makes things real, realistic, or tests the veracity of a statement. It is about defending a conviction. It is emphasizing proof on anything that fits the flavor of the party. 

Conviction is so powerful that it drowns out any meaningful debate. What if there are things to criticize about your favorite politician? What if your “Party of Truth” has come in the crosshairs of friendly fire, and you are none the wiser because you will follow blindly down any road they choose for you?

Returning to the basic American value, we find that the truths held at our beginning were merely those that were self-evident. They did not need to be defended with waving banners and closed fists. Americans must lay down their torches and pitchforks and realize the games they have been played with and have played. A free citizen is one that can disagree and still carry on being unified with another person. 

Truth is not offended by disagreement. It cannot be altered by someone’s inaccurate or slanted understanding. In the same way, American opinions were made to disagree, debate, and adapt to social coexistence. A unified society need not be a unanimous society, but one that recognizes that, to pursue Truth properly, one must be allowed to argue it, to understand it, and then to at last embrace their conclusions. In pursuit of a living thing, conclusions can change, and one may disagree with someone they once agreed with wholeheartedly. 

Contemplating American Pigeon’s Purpose 

It is our moral obligation to make a distinction. It is not American Pigeon authors that will preserve Truth as a virtue or validate it somehow. We hold the Truth to be self-evident. Truth is itself the substance of things as they are, not as a single Party would like to mold them to be. 

We observe the Truth, from our perspective. We can comment on it, yes. We can arrange it, and we can even point to the elephants where they stand. However, we do not add or subtract to this being for all our chatter. Truth simply is the substance of things that are. 

American Pigeon comes with a simple purpose. To carry the development of those self-evident occurrences to you, the reader, directly. To allow you to see for yourself things you would not otherwise, far-flung events or nearby but hidden happenings. Suppose rather than uphold the truth or burn on the pyres of our self-defeating hubris, we are simply carrying messages to you. 

Our task is an honor for us, and our approach to it is from a place of humility. We can initiate dialogue with you, our reader, that will benefit both the speaker and the one spoken to. This, in the end, is the purpose of public discourse and journalism. This is our service to you. Your support of our constant journey to carry these untampered with messages means everything. 

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