Point of View: The true dilemma — Truth is on shaky ground

Steve Hughes poses for a photo on Feb. 15, 2020, at his Homer, Alaska, home. (Photo courtesy of Steve Hughes)

Steve Hughes poses for a photo on Feb. 15, 2020, at his Homer, Alaska, home. (Photo courtesy of Steve Hughes)

Do you long for those days when you could have a good honest debate and express your arguments and different opinions with mutual respect? When, despite political preferences you could genuinely acknowledge each other’s judgment and moral clarity was not such an issue. In fact you might even admire the integrity of your opponent’s rational explanations and learn something new that helps you see an issue in broader context. Those debates and our feelings for one another appear to have greatly deteriorated over the past three years as Americans have become more polarized over their support or rejection of this President.

A broad majority of people are not immune from this national virus of distrust infecting our society. Folks seem to have squared off into their respective camps so entrenched in their own beliefs that we are increasingly at odds and commonality is harder to find. What divides us are not just political issues, but issues of civility, honesty, and efforts to reveal or conceal the truth.

The true dilemma is that the foundation of our values has taken such a blow that even truth itself is on shaky ground. Are people not able to discern fact from fiction or know the difference between lies and truth? Or do we choose to betray our own ideals in pursuit of a favored agenda, no matter the cost? Have we forgotten that the way we get to our agenda is as important as the agenda itself?

We cannot ignore Donald Trump’s influence on the American character. He has exhibited behavior that we would not tolerate from our children, yet we have condoned his. No President has sown such divisiveness, spouted such hate and vitriol, thwarted the law, or sought to undermine the Constitution to the extent Trump has. Still he continues to have the support of many Americans. I struggle to make sense of this. I struggle with how to keep a positive relationship with my fellow countrymen and not fall prey to cynicism.

I believe the overall American character is one of decency and mutual respect for fellow human beings, that a man’s word means something, and that despite our differences we have much more in common. I think most people believe a civil association based on truth and fair representation is essential to a mutually contributing, healthy society. If we don’t have that, if we can’t agree on what’s right is right, if we look away, we’re in big trouble.

From now until the November elections we Americans are going to be peppered by propaganda, subjected to conspiracy theories, inundated by statistics, all run through the gauntlet of biased news coming from all sides. We may have to discern among foreign influences and examine whether what we are hearing is even true. It won’t be easy, but we have to do it. It will depend on how we choose to live in this world and meet real challenges that lie ahead.

Steve Hughes is a longtime resident of Kachemak Bay.

More in Opinion

Peter Zuyus
What about Alaska’s seniors in the 2022 governor race?

When 130,000 seniors speak, candidates will listen.

This image available under the Creative Commons license shows the outline of the state of Alaska filled with the pattern of the state flag.
Opinion: Bringing broadband to all Alaskans

Too many Alaskans face barriers accessing the internet.

This photo shows a stack of pocket constitutions at the Alaska State Capitol. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Join us in voting against a constitutional convention

Voting no on a constitutional convention is vital to the well-being and stability of our state.

Michael O’Meara.
Point of View: Tell BOEM how you feel

It seems like BOEM should prioritize input from people most likely to be affected if leases are sold

The State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Office of Information Technology webpage. (Screenshot/oit.alaska.gov)
Cloud migration now underway will strengthen, enhance State IT systems

At the most basic level, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services remotely

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: This is our borough and city

By Therese Lewandowski Another election already? Yes! This is our local elections… Continue reading

Jessica Cook, left, and Les Gara stand in The Peninsula Clarion’s offices on Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: Better schools for a better economy

We need leaders who care about our children’s futures

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation building is seen in Juneau, Alaska, in March 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: APFC keeps steady keel during turbulent year

FY2022 was a challenging year for all investors

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Nonprofits provide essential services not provided by cities

By our count, nonprofits provide more than 100 jobs to our communities

t
Opinion: Don’t get scammed like I nearly did

I should have just turned off the computer.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce campaigns for governor as he walks in the 65th annual Soldotna Progress Days Parade on Saturday, July 23, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. Pierce resigned as borough mayor effective Sept. 30, 2022, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: ‘It has been an honor to serve’

Borough mayor gives send-off ahead of departure