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Canberra Today 18°/21° | Monday, January 24, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

When it comes to truth, it ain’t necessarily so

“I don’t want to overstate it, but it feels as though we’re in a conflict that decides whether or not we descend into the kind of chaos so beloved of Hollywood dystopians,” writes “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN

THE anti-vax movement is more troubling than first appears.

Robert Macklin.

It’s tempting to see it as simply a reaction to the lockdowns that have caused such financial and emotional hardship to so many in the community.

Add to that a burning resentment against the oppressive hand of authority at a time when the government itself has lost a good deal of the respect it once enjoyed. That might account for a few hundred protestors on the streets.

But it’s much more serious than that. A quick glance at the national news shows thousands carrying anti-vax banners while the international scene reveals the symptoms of a political nervous breakdown, the consequences of which look pretty scary. 

COVID-19 deaths are on the rise again in the northern hemisphere and the commitment to action on climate change at the Glasgow meeting was grudging at best. I don’t want to overstate it, but it feels as though we’re in a conflict that decides whether or not we descend into the kind of chaos so beloved of Hollywood dystopians. 

Truth itself, it seems, is at the heart of the struggle. And while that might sound a little strange – something is either true or it isn’t – well, it ain’t necessarily so. And our species is truly expert at muddying the waters.

For example, lots of parents tell their children there’s a Santa Claus who comes sliding down the chimney late on Christmas Eve; and if they’ve been very good he puts lots of presents at the end of the bed. But after a couple of years the kids discover that wasn’t true. So they get another story – Christmas is really the birthday of a man called Jesus who wasn’t really a man at all but the son of a god who is so powerful and perceptive that he not only created the entire universe but can even hear our thoughts!

It takes a little longer to discover that wasn’t true either. In fact, some people never do. They hang on so desperately to the idea that unlike all the other flora and fauna around them, humans don’t actually die; they live on in some spooky consciousness where the bad people are tortured and the good ones – them – have a fine old time. 

It doesn’t worry them that millions – no, billions – of other equally intelligent folk believe just as fervently in something entirely different. 

In fact, the most ghastly wars have been fought between those whose beliefs differ only slightly from each other. And since the election of a TV performer in the most powerful country in the world, that nation is splitting into warring factions that both end their threats with, “God bless America!”

Little wonder that the very concept of “truth” is not quite as straightforward as we first thought. 

But here’s the thing: we can actually measure the amounts of C02, methane and other atmospheric gasses that are causing the world to become uninhabitable. And we know precisely how to substitute “clean” energy to avoid that fate. Same with COVID-19. We know the cause and the cure because we can measure it.

Yet we’re so addicted to other “truths” that our Prime Minister refuses to engage with the climate-change cure, refuses to mandate vaccinations and can no longer distinguish between truth and lies… even when he’s the one lying.

This same chap – a proud Pentecostal believer – at 11.32am on Thursday, November 25, personally introduced a Bill into the national parliament “to protect people of religion, of faith, against discrimination”.

And that’s god’s honest truth. 

Who can be trusted?

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin

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