“Just give me some truth,
All I want is some truth,”
as John Lennon used to say.
That, of course, is or would be only a start: a good, necessary start.
Good for Jan Bohmermann, the German comedian and a social satirist, for coming forth and admitting he’d perpetrated a visual lie and thereby slandered Yanis Varoufakis in a mercilessly self-revealing, self-satirizing video aimed at the German public. Of course, the evidence was incontrovertible, so he really had no option but acknowledge the truth — which, in his case, and in actual fact, isn’t all that damning or damaging, either. The real culprits, though, as the short video in today’s article in The Guardian that set off this train of thought of mine explains, are our media, who’ve been reducing complex realities to the most comfortable of lies some would prefer have us live with.
The problem with lies, in politics as in life, is that we can also die of them. Lies can kill. The dead youth of Athens, killed by starvation and malnutrition, and the Greek pensioners whom despair led to commit suicide in such large numbers in the last few years, both testify to the insidious power of economic and political lies to destroy human lives: to kill, in short.
This offers us a timely opportunity, therefore, to recall also that is was the Ancient Greeks who first developed ethics as a branch of philosophy, as a subject for sustained, rational thought. And how right they were, how right Aristotle was, to insist that ethics is, among other things, a branch of politics: that it must not be conceived of separately from issues and questions that concern our life as social beings. Of course, as some of them argued, and as some of the Ancient Hebrews intuited so well, also, ethics is a part of metaphysics, too: of those questions and issues that concern the difficulty of being human, the existential challenges of living in a world of multiplicity.
The truth is “only” something to begin with, and stick to. Always. It’s that noble and that precious, as Meister Eckhart used to say: adding that, if God ‘himself’ could deviate from the truth, he would let God go and stick with the truth. Meister Eckhart was fortunate enough in that he was spared that which might have forced him to make such a choice.