I watched an online video recently that was an advertisement for a men’s hygienic product. I am not big on commercials…but I watched this particular one because so many people had hyped it as something so unbelievable that it needed to be seen.
The video shows a Major League baseball player being interviewed in foul territory near right field with both his and the interviewers’ backs facing home plate. Within seconds, a player taking batting practice hits a line drive that is careening toward the head of the interviewer. Just a split second before the liner hits her in the head, the player being interviewed, with uncanny cat-like reflexes, turns, puts up his hand, and catches the ball.
It was unbelievable.
I even commented on the video as to how unbelievable it was that he caught the ball with just a glimpse out of the corner of his eye.
And then I found out that the video was not real.
It was digitally produced.
I had mixed emotions about the video- on one hand it was a marvel of digital video production, but on the other hand the video elicited in me an uncomfortable and poignant reality of how easily we can be deceived or manipulated into believing something about an incident, a person, or a group of people that may be completely fabricated.
Granted, manipulating and manufacturing images and information for the sake of propaganda is as old as humanity. I get that. I am just not sure that we are savvy enough to pick up on it when we are the targets of it or when we are in the midst of it. And consequently, we can very easily be moved and shaped by deception and manipulation with the means and ends being division, chaos, hatred, name-calling, retribution, brutality, and murder.
All because we are easily moved and swayed by what others want us to believe about situations, individuals, and groups of people.
I would argue vehemently that in the midst of social and cultural upheaval and chaos, if a person and/or a group of people do not have a value system on which to stand and through which to live that transcends situation and/or circumstance, he/she/they will be easily swayed and manipulated by inferior value systems and ideologies, propaganda, and misinformation.
I say all of this with the Church in the very forefront of my mind.
When the foundation of your life and identity is that of Christ’s teachings and the way of this resurrected Christ, there is no amount of manipulation, misinformation, or propaganda that can influence or change how you view situations and/or people. Because the way of the resurrected Christ is consistent and does not change based upon whether information or situations have been manipulated or propagandized. The way of the resurrected Christ continues to love, serve, extend mercy and grace, stand against injustice peacefully, and forgive every individual and every group of people no matter the situations or circumstances. The way of the resurrected Christ, the model of new humanity, does not initiate, participate, or join in conflict, chaos, hatred, name-calling, retribution, brutality, or murder.
Quite oppositely, if the foundation upon which your life and identity is anything less than Christ’s teachings and the way of the resurrected Christ, you may very easily be blown by the changing winds of public opinion, manipulation, misinformation, or even propaganda. If your foundation is less than Christ, which is consistent and does not change even when information, situations, or circumstances change, you may also come to believe that conflict, chaos, hatred, name-calling, retribution, brutality, or even murder is warranted and justified in situations, even if it is the product of misinformation, manipulation, or propaganda.
We have reached a point, I believe, in the world when there are so many positions, angles, self-interested ideologies, and half-truths that we are not sure what truth is anymore. Multiply that reality with purposeful misinformation, manipulation, and propaganda and we are all virtually lost, becoming the product of what we are consuming. We will believe almost anything that affirms what we already believe, even if it isn’t accurate, and the consequence is that it slowly turns us into people who are against one another. God help us for being people who build our houses upon the sinking sand.
In these turbulent and chaotic times, of which will continue to try men’s souls, the love of many will grow cold and it is beyond imperative for the Church to bear witness to the transcendent truth of God in the teachings of Jesus Christ and through the life of the resurrected Christ. For it was Jesus standing in the presence of Pontius Pilate who said that “[He] came into the world to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth, who is a friend of the Truth, who belongs to the Truth, hears and listens to [his voice].”
The voice of Truth is piercing through the cacophony of competing interests of misinformation, manipulation, half-truths, and propaganda…and calling the Church to be the new humanity, the resurrection community, which demonstrates the love, service, mercy, grace, peace, and forgiveness of God to every individual and to every group of people no matter the situations or circumstances. Let us be those who are known for our love of Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, the 99% and 1%, the Trayvon’s and the Zimmerman’s, U.S. citizens and Iranian citizens, black, white, brown, red, rich, poor, prisoner, free, gay, straight, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, and every other classification of people this world has made…because we all are people. And as God loved us…so let our love, our mercy, our grace, our service, and our forgiveness transcend those things that work to divide us and cause us to hate one another.
It is more important now than it has ever been.