Grant Wood; “Parson Weems’ Fable”; 1939; oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; 1970.43
Post-truth was named “the word of the year” for 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries. I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, so I looked it up. It is defined as an adjective and per Oxford means: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In other words, we believe what lines up with our preconceived views and ideals we hold dear to our hearts. A person who tells a “pants on fire” lie can get away with it if it matches up with the audiences’ viewpoint. You can now forget your mama’s words of advice to “never tell a lie.” The moral lesson taught about George Washington fessing up to cutting down the cherry tree is now obsolete. Come to think of it, the story itself was a lie. It occurred to me in writing fiction, writers make their stories post-truth. As an author, I depend on the reader feeling passionate about what is happening in the story. Although I spend many hours doing research to make my story plausible, I count on emotions in the telling to grab the reader and keep them turning the page. So, do I tweak facts about protocol in a murder investigation or interviewing a suspect? Sometimes, if needed to draw out emotions or suspense. If fudging on technicalities keeps the plot moving forward, I take the risk. However, when I step from my fictional world into real life, I respect the truth. I expect politicians, reporters, family, and friends to speak the truth. Once a person has lied to me, I hesitate to believe anything they say moving forward. Call me naive in today’s world, but I think truth matters. The fourth word in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence is truth. Here is the exact wording: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. In my opinion, we should revere the word and not dismiss it from our current lives.
Susan Mills Wilson is a native of North Carolina where she writes romantic suspense. She is the leader of the Charlotte Writers Club Mystery Critique Group and a member of Charlotte Writers Club. Subscribe to Susan’s blog at www.susanmillswilson.com.