Hyperbole, Anger & Fear: The Greatest Enemies of Truth

The truth is an ambiguous thing sometimes. Unfortunately, this makes the truth easy to manipulate and difficult to identify when manipulated. It is not enough to simply speak the truth, that truth must be communicated with integrity.

What is perhaps most concerning in today’s culture is the lightning-quick method by which false information is spread. This is then followed by often complete and unabashed acceptance by many Christians and conservatives. Information comes as commentary in a tidal wave of hyperbole, fear, and anger.

How can we possibly engage productively in a social and political discussion that is governed by fundamentally dishonest rules? The best starting place is to make sure that our own standards are different from those we are decrying.

[bctt tweet=”Engaging in politics: Start with communicating truth truthfully. #KeepTXFamiliesFree #THSCKnowsTX” username=”thsc”]

Children learn by example, so if home schoolers plan to raise a generation that knows and understands the truth, we will have to start with making sure that the current generation is actually communicating that truth.

Hyperbole: The Christian form of lying

Truth is in the eye of the beholder. This has become the unspoken standard of communication by elected officials, religious leaders, businessmen, and, yes, the everyday working American. Hyperbole is an honest man’s greatest tool for dishonesty.

Hyperbole is based on an element of truth, but is embellished to communicate the opinion of the speaker at the expense of the facts on which that opinion is based.

This is the very nature of hyperbolic communication–when the speaker fails to distinguish between the facts and his or her opinion, resulting in an inseparable mix of “partially true” claims.

Anger & Fear: Hyperbole’s greatest motivators

Anger and Fear are two of the greatest motivators in existence. At the root of nearly every political and social upheaval you can find deep roots of one, or both, of these two emotional elements. So why do so many leaders rely on these instead of appealing to reason or courage?  Because reasonable people are harder to influence and courageous people will stand up to a demagogue.

A person motivated by anger or fear will do almost anything he or she thinks necessary to produce the desired result.  For a demagoguing speaker, this is a goldmine of opportunity.

[bctt tweet=”Anger and Fear: a demagogues goldmine of opportunity. #KeepTXFamiliesFree #KeepTXStrong” username=”thsc”]

What is the result?

Our society has reached a point where hyperbole is the go-to communication style and fear and anger are coveted emotions to produce in audiences.

This is because someone who can produce strong anger or fear in an audience can create a multitude ripe for action but lacking in direction, which the presenter is typically ready to provide.

Many leaders aim to bring the water to a boiling point, but have no regard for what they are cooking. Overall, we have lost our allegiance to the truth.

So how do we communicate the truth?

Here is the problem: the line between truth and hyperbole is extremely difficult to identify. Many times the speakers may not be aware of just how hyperbolically they are speaking until someone calls them out on it.

In order for us to communicate the truth, we have to identify the traits that accompany hyperbolic, fear-mongering, anger-generating, semi-factual information.

Generalizations such as “always,” “everybody,” or other similar words are stereotypical examples of hyperbole. In more general terms, hyperbolic communication is frequently accompanied by presenting selected facts and then, rather than outlining the reasons for disagreement with the speaker, impugning the motives of the speaker. In an article earlier this year titled “The ‘Other Side’ is not Dumb,” Sean Blanda gave an excellent overview of how this particular problem has permeated American thought.

Here is the bottom line: We have to check not just our motives, but our methods. We have to learn to separate the facts from our opinion and clearly articulate each one. We have to learn to motivate people through courage, reason, and the desire to do what is right instead of through fear, anger, and the desire to be controversial.

[bctt tweet=”Check not just motives, but methods. #KeepTXFamiliesFree #KeepTXStrong” username=”thsc”]

So what’s the takeaway?

Our kids may be raised in the home, but they will live out in the world. Home schoolers are already recognized nationally for their performance academically, let’s also make sure that we are known as champions of truth.

At THSC, we try to make our contributions to the political, social, and moral arena not simply truthful in fact, but also honest in presentation. The merits of parental rights and home schooling do not need embellishment in order to make their case.

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