Finding Reason: How Are People Getting Through These Strange Times?

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She said, “I did a lot of research…” 

Mandy Patinkin, playing the role of Montoya in the 1987 classic movie, The Princess Bride, famously said, “You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

It applies to what she said. In casual conversations these days “I did a lot of research” means “I Googled it.” Research used to mean much more than it does to people, today. 

Add to that the loads of misinformation, cranked out by formerly trusted media giants and scientific journals; an increasing number of so-called “experts,” who apparently paid others to study for them even through their post graduate years; the abundance of overconfident, self-promoted, loud-but-ignorant podcasters and bloggers; biased fact-checkers who claim to be unbiased; algorithms, designed to popularize particularly biased information which is sometimes incomplete and/or misleading; and the piles of books, self-published and/or self-promoted with remarkably clever-sounding arguments, but chock full of strategically deceiving propaganda, and we have ourselves a big problem. 

If Google wants us to read things they prefer to promote, those things will fill up the first several pages of hits in a basic search of a given related subject. Things Google deems misinformation, which might actually be the most accurate facts of a matter, well, those will be pushed off into oblivion or altogether removed from our ability to find. Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are under a lot of criticism for similar tactics, as they seem to seek to shape politics and culture in the world. These self-appointed arbiters of what they believe should be accepted as truth are playing a dangerous game and most don’t even realize when they’re sucked right into their deception. 

But, we say, “I did a lot of research on it,” when we would be more accurate if we said instead, “I read an unsourced, unproven report on it on my phone,” or “I read on my tablet about a study which was not peer-reviewed, not double-blind, and not credible, but I still chose to believe it with my blind allegiance to the internet.” No, the truth doesn’t sound as good. We prefer to look and sound right, rather than actually be right. At least we certainly act this way. 

Yes, we are in the “information overload” age and we’re struggling to know the difference between fact and fiction. Flip the channel from the news to a movie, and you could find more reality in a fictitious movie than you do on what used to be unbiased news sources. 

Sometimes we feel like Charlie Brown when he said, “Stop the world. I want to get off.” By the way, it was said long before Charlie Brown. The earliest reference to the phrase I’ve seen dates back to journalist and columnist, Harvey Earl Wilson, in the Thursday, May 10, 1951 publication of “It Happened Last Night” in the Dayton Daily News. 

The world has changed. In some ways we’ve improved. In others, we’ve gone so far backwards. 

Eggs used to be a common part of household meals in the world. Then, we were told by the “experts” eggs are bad for you. Now, we’re told by some “experts” eggs are good for you. 

I could list a boatload of lies media giants, “experts,” supposed journalists, scientific journals, etc., have fed us in recent years. It’s no wonder people have sunk into depression when we’ve been barraged with so much falsehoods. Truth seems more relative now than ever. Nobody seems to know what to believe in anymore. 

Well, not everyone feels hopeless. Not everyone has bought into the propaganda. Not everyone is discouraged or depressed. 

No, there are people amongst us who have navigated these troubled waters and are continuing to sail rather smoothly through it all. There are strong souls, peppered about this dull world, still living spiced up lives. While so many are crying on the inside, there are people laughing as they forge ahead, despite the difficulties. 

Look around. You might discover genuine Christians are getting through all this quite well. Sure, they have their moments, but overall they’re doing alright. Many of them have lost hours, jobs, income, health, family members, friends, stability and more. Yet, they still are walking tall and finding a way to gracefully make progress even in these strange times. 

Find them. Get closer to them. They are close to God, and can help you get closer to Him, as well. If you want this peace-filled, hope-filled, purpose-filled life you see in them, talk to them about it. They are focused and content, not lost or confused. They know the way. They know. 

Jesus said, “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” (John 14:4-8, NKJV)

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Pastor Jeff Adams is a longtime community leader, victim advocate and chaplain. He ministers internationally, nationally and locally. His column appears online weekly. He can be reached at jeffreydadams@hotmail.com.

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