CDE Viewpoint – Honesty is the only policy

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by Jesmond Saliba Our wonderful era of boundless information is accompanied by an equal potential for misinformation. The miracle of powerful knowledge-sharing that launched humanity into the third millennium has uncovered a nasty underbelly that intoxicates the values of accuracy, veracity, and legitimacy.

Truth becomes a rocky terrain, especially when it is reduced to an interpretation of facts, and a double-decker problem crashes clumsily into our sense of certainty: whose interpretation to consider, which facts to believe?

Societies have been long enough in a global trend of nihilism to recognise the air of post-expertise that permeates most areas of life. It could be nutrition advice, literary criticism, or management tips; personal experience is nowadays noticeably more authoritative than informed expertise.

In the meantime, we can also begin to observe the foundations of a post-fact age taking shape, one in which alternative perspectives shatter any idea of a commonly acceptable reality.

The fracas in Washington D.C. in the first week of the year is a disturbing but fitting epitome of this emerging world disorder. The rioting mob assaulting the Capitol represents, quite literally, the dangerous clash of realities that carve the US into two. The divide runs deeper than the Trump phenomenon and neither is it simply an American quirk.

The mutually-exclusive standpoints of Brexiteers and Remainers in the UK, for example, have sucked up the political oxygen of Britain for nearly six years. The tumult of protests, debates, accusations, and manoeuvring since the 2015 general election was but the bubbling on top of decades of fermenting disagreement.

In a time of profound mistrust, the notion of truth is the first to disintegrate.

This confused situation, however, presents a new calling to leaders of democracies. More than truth, this historical moment requires honesty. Truth demands the consensus that is fast slipping out of hand, but candour and integrity lie within the individual’s grasp. Honesty is a public declaration that a person is siding with what they know while remaining actively open to what they don’t. If truth is a pledge to a firm perception, honesty is commitment to the prism of views that refract across a community.

The complexities of a post-truth world are many, but the answers will not be found without honesty.

Jesmond Saliba

This article was first published on CorporateDispatchPro.

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