The 60 Minutes interview with Belle Gibson, revealing her tangled web of deceit, and the ABC’s continuing bizarre defense over providing unfettered and supportive promotional opportunities to a terrorism suspect (and continuing terrorism advocate given Mallah’s comments) both point to a general failing in our society: the understanding, acceptance and advocacy of truth.
How often do you hear someone claim in a ridiculous high school-like, faux postmodern† or pseudo-modern angst, that what they are saying is ‘their truth’ and cannot be argued with? The 60 Minutes interview caught up Belle Gibson in her own lies and her inability to recognise reality, fostered by years of immersing herself in her own fictions. All it took was a few simple, straightforward questions, based on actual facts, for her lies to be torn down, leaving her confused and impotent.
Likewise, all it took for the ABC’s Insider host Barrie Cassidy to be shown as living in a dream world, was for Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ask if Cassidy were pulling Turnbull’s leg and seriously did not consider that promoting a known, fallacious, convicted terrorism suspect as an ‘impartial’ audience member on a national current affairs panel was not only offensive, but also dangerous to the very people whom he loves to threaten?
The commonalities in both cases?
1) The professional media were unable to face the truth about either Gibson or Mallah and deal with them appropriately. The fact is, 60 Minutes is late to the party. Gibson has been spouting her lies for years and has been promoted on national TV news shows, in magazines and elsewhere. The ‘fact checking’ that these agencies engaged in amounted to little more than Google searches. Because they couldn’t find anything on the web to discredit her, that’s where their inquiries stopped, even when they had doubts. How about a phone call to a hospital? How about checking some birth certificates? How about some MRI scans? I would expect even my older daughters, in Years 6 and 7, to check their facts better.
In terms of the ABC, its representatives are not prepared to face the truth about their decisions, biases and behaviours. Unbiased? Representative of Australia’s best interests? Don’t be facile. But, ensconced and engorged as they are on their own ideology and reportage, they are unable to accept the truth.
2) The subjects themselves, Gibson and Mallah, have been caught up in their own web of lies – their own ‘truth’ – from which they find it impossible to extricate themselves.
Let’s face it, society often thinks it’s great when someone says, “Oh, that’s my truth and you need to accept my reality. How I’ve constructed myself is totally up to me and my interpretation of life, the universe and everything”. But if you sat in front of a doctor, asking him or her how to treat your deadly disease and they gave you that claptrap, you’d want to slap them in the face, walk out and find someone else who talked sense. You would want someone who actually knows something that you can objectively identify as real and can provide some kind of solution. Yet, Western societies accept the first example of woolly headed thinking on anything and everything.
Unfortunately, you and I have witnessed too many in business, finance, consulting, coaching, advising, politics, law, social causes, professional services and more who have demonstrated their inability to declare truthfully their interests, experience, understanding or position. “[So-and-So’s] Rules for Building a Million Dollar Business” from someone who’s never built one, or even helped someone build one, is one that comes immediately to my mind. And do you and I buy into that, based on their false promise, or do we continue searching for the genuine article?
What About Us?
What hyper-distorted versions of our own reality have we created for ourselves? Are we willing to ask, or be asked, a few hard, cold questions that will force us to face the truth? Or are we happy to go on living a lie and feeling sorry that no-one else understands us?
How many people willingly adopted and supported Gibson’s “Eating whole foods cures cancer” scam? How many of her hundreds of thousands of followers bothered to engage in any informed, sceptical discussion with anyone else regarding her claims? Apple certainly didn’t. They promoted her app to “Apple Watch” preferred app status.
“In archery, it is said that someone’s “Aim is true”. That’s a conception of truth that we all need to adopt and pursue.” – Peter J. McLean
Is our aim true? Does it hit the mark? Do our words, actions, thoughts and insights match reality and the good outcomes we desire? Or is it off? Do our words and actions not reflect reality, honesty and our intent? Forget about transparency. How about unadulterated fidelity to the truth?
What we need in our own lives is some honest-to-goodness fact-checking to determine if we’re on a right path. We need to determine if our lives are aimed straight and true to the target, or else someone or something else will end up doing it for us, as has happened to Gibson and the ABC.
I feel pity for people like Gibson and Mallah. And I pity their victims, as well. But rather than sit in high-handed judgement, let’s consider ourselves: Are we aimed true?
How do you adhere to the truth in your leadership? Leave a comment.
© 2015 Peter J. McLean. Follow me at http://petermclean.co.
† Even Foucault, one of the heroes of postmodernism, admits to a natural, normative, reality by saying that it must be interpreted. But that’s a debate for academia and not this blog – and probably a spent debate, at that.