Is truth important to you? If you’re a normal, God-fearing American, you probably would not hesitate to make the claim that, indeed, you do value truth.

You likely hold dear the self-evident truth that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You appreciate the truth of the universal equalizer: time, and the laws of physics that allow our world to function in a predictable, stable manner. You would probably even say that your spouse is “true” in the sense that he or she is honest and faithful.

But to what extent do you really value truth?

It would be interesting to poll the current generation, the leaders of tomorrow, in order to discover their perspective on truth. Our post-modern, morally relativistic culture has certainly made a mess of our understanding of it. We seem to think there is no objective truth, only opinions and ever-shifting popular views perpetuated by those with the loudest microphones. The definitions of words are always changing to fit the vernacular. As a child of the ‘90s, I grew up listening to music like Aaron Tippin’s hit “You’ve Got To Stand for Something” which reminds us that even though it’s tempting to sell out our values for an easier life, “whatever you do today you’ll have to sleep with tonight”; he claims that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. The question is: for what do we stand?

The Barna Group took the initiative to answer this question. Its research found that 74% of millennials agree with the statement, “Whatever is right for your life, or works best for you is the only truth you can know.” If you are an ethical, law-abiding citizen, this should be deeply troubling. What is it, then, that keeps people with a morally relativistic perspective from cheating, stealing or slandering? Is the fear of being punished by law our only guiding principle when we consider our values? When our truth is defined simply by what “works best” at any given point in time, how can we even attempt to cultivate cultural values or strive for a “more just, equitable society”? Who defines this when even the dictionary is in a state of constant flux?

Sadly, it seems that as a society we don’t stand for anything, and even if we did we wouldn’t be able to define it.

In the face of this grim realization, it is understandable why many of us choose to “check out.” It is easier to leave this culture crisis for the birds and instead hunker down here in our secluded community where a handshake deal still means something. We have beautiful views, clean water and decent neighbors, and in this sense it can seem like the problems facing our country are far off. We like it that way. After all, that’s why many of us moved (or choose to stay) here in the first place: “It’s a great place to raise a family,” we say. And it is. For now.

Wallowa County is a wonderful place to live as long as we continue to revere truth, but even this pursuit is under attack by the Marxist ideologues that dominate the mainstream media, our universities and even some of our local organizations. Those of us committed to upholding the truth of the rule of law and moral absolutes (rights to life, liberty and property, and what used to be known as “common decency”) are being pushed to the margins. Censorship is occurring with alarming frequency, and we no longer seem to have forums that welcome and encourage lively, intelligent debate. Even discussions about values and truth are stifled within our own families, which used to be the bedrock for the formation and refining of the moral compass and conscience.

It is deeply disturbing that in a country characterized by its love for the free press there has been a mass silencing of opinions without due process or an opportunity for rebuttal. When did we become so fragile that we can’t handle lending an ear to a ridiculous or challenging idea? Do we lack the mental capacity to hear both sides of an issue and postpone the decision-making process until after hearing all of the evidence? It’s been said in many different iterations: “The truth needs no defense — simply let it loose, it will defend itself.”

While it’s true that standing in truth is often costly, as the spilled blood of our servicemen and women, law enforcement, political prisoners and martyrs would testify, the truth itself is a blinding light that knows no end and requires no assistance to do its transformative work. We need only to stand in it, and allow it to illuminate our lives. In the end, it is the excellence of truth that serves as a beacon to guide us when the waters grow turbulent. We must never give in to the temptation to sacrifice truth to the god of self-satisfaction, lest we become nothing more than slaves to our carnal instincts.

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Devin Patton is a third-generation Wallowa County native whose pastimes include the study of ag economics, history and free thought.

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