Author Rod Dreher's new book 'Live not by Lies' is a handbook about how to survive with dignity when all around us rejects truth.

Charles Lewis: Truth stands against lies of evil, oppression

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  • June 16, 2021

We live in a time in which truth has lost its meaning. We live in a time in which truth is replaced by feelings. When something no longer feels right it cannot be the truth. Every opinion is valid and none is greater than another.

All around us we hear that life is not really sacred but disposable when it becomes an inconvenience. Suffering has no value and should be eradicated even if that means state-sanctioned murder. Gender is a choice rather than an essential part of God’s creation. Civic life has been replaced by identity politics.

The question posed by Pontius Pilate 2,000 years ago still reverberates today: What is truth?

In the 14th century St. Catherine of Siena understood the need to recognize truth: “To choose truth,” she wrote, “is at the same time to choose freedom, and to stand up without fear to the threats and lies of evil and oppression.”

Into this morass comes a new book that addresses this sorry state of affairs and also offers hope. For those of us who believe there is such a thing as truth, Live Not By Lies by Rod Dreher is essential reading. It is a handbook about how to survive with dignity when all around us rejects truth.

It reminds us that we don’t have to surrender to the “woke” madness and that there is such a thing as truth.

It goes further than simply blaming the media or even governments. It also puts a strong focus on corporations who sell us high-tech toys that have the potential to run our lives in ways only George Orwell could have imagined.

Our cell phones, our virtual assistants (not sweet Siri!) and the tracks we leave on social media have the power to turn what we think of private activities into a means of mass manipulation. We willingly give away reams of personal information without ever thinking of the consequence.

Dreher believes, correctly, we are living in an era of “soft totalitarianism” that “exploits modern man’s preference for personal pleasure over principles, including political liberties.”

“The public will support, or at least not oppose, the coming of the soft totalitarianism, not because it fears the imposition of cruel punishments but because it will be more or less satisfied by hedonistic comforts,” writes Dreher. 

Dreher, who also wrote The Benedict Option and How Dante Can Save Your Life, is clear that what we are experiencing today is in no way the same as those regimes who used torture, rape and murder to crush dissent.

However, those who lived under brutal repression look at the way we live in the West and offer a stark warning.

While researching Live Not By Lies he travelled to the former Soviet-bloc countries. In Prague, he met with Kamila Bendova, who with her late husband built up an anti-communist dissident movement. She remains, Dreher writes, vigilant about what she sees as threats to freedom.

“I mention to her that tens of millions of Americans have installed in their houses so-called ‘smart speakers’ that monitor conversations for the sake of making domestic life more convenient. The appalled look on her face telegraphs a clear message: ‘How can Americans be so gullible?’ ”

Bendova lived under a regime in which the bugging of homes was a regular occurrence. The reason this was done, she tells Dreher, is that the more information the state had on someone the more easily they could be manipulated.

Manipulation does not only have to come from governments. Corporations, which today have a power once unimaginable, can use personal data to get inside the heads of their customers for their own needs.

This is even more of an issue as more corporations have become “woke” and will punish jurisdictions for making decisions they deem goes against the values of their businesses.

When Republican-led Georgia changed its voting laws to limit voting by mail, Major League Baseball, a $2-billion industry, punished the state by moving the All-Star game away from Atlanta to Denver. Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola issued their own protests.

When did corporations become so left wing?

Dreher, a practising Orthodox Christian, emphasizes the role of religion as a “bedrock of resistance.”

Religion is important because, as Dreher writes, it is not enough to be against something but also to “be for something good.”

“The important lesson to draw is that a creed … is a description of objective reality, is a priceless possession. It tells you how to discern truth from lies.”

If St. Catherine were with us today she would rush out to buy this book. And then tell others to do the same.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

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