I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I really wish turning off the news in the 21st century was as easy as turning off a TV channel. But with social media, email newsletters, podcasts, and of course the good old fashioned TV and radio, it feels impossible sometimes. (Not to mention irresponsible – it’s important to be aware, after all.)
But sometimes, keeping up with current events is depressing. “And they lived happily ever after” does not seem to be the ending of any piece of journalism. And now, in the era of “fake news,” it’s not just depressing, but it’s untrustworthy, as well.
As a writer, this seriously bums me out. I love reading a good piece of writing, but not when it’s about a war, or another case of sexual assault, or how Iceland has almost “eradicated” Down syndrome through abortion. (That one really got to me.) I also hate the idea that other writers can’t be trusted, that so many so-called professionals are lying or stretching the truth just to get some clicks.
That’s why when I saw that Pope Francis’ message for World Communications Day focused on truth in media, I felt that same excitement that I feel sometimes during a really timely homily – like it was meant just for me. (Self-centered, maybe. But that’s the gift of a truly great piece of writing or speech – its truth speaks to many people – personally.)
Pope Francis called for “rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.” How beautiful is that? As a writer, I have a personal responsibility to communicate the truth. Whether I’m writing an article for my company on corporate training or a blog post here about my prayer life, I am responsible for what I write, and it must be the truth.
That doesn’t just mean I can’t write lies. For Christians, Pope Francis says, speaking (and writing) the truth goes beyond that:
“Truth involves our whole life. In the Bible, it carries with it the sense of support, solidity, and trust, as implied by the root ‘aman, the source of our liturgical expression Amen. Truth is something you can lean on, so as not to fall. In this relational sense, the only truly reliable and trustworthy One – the One on whom we can count – is the living God. Hence, Jesus can say: ‘I am the truth’ (Jn 14:6). We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves in the loyalty and trustworthiness of the One who loves us. This alone can liberate us: ‘The truth will set you free’ (Jn 8:32).”
As writers, and as readers (most of us are at least the latter), Pope Francis is calling us to “promote a journalism of peace.” Even when the story does not seem peaceful – which is all too often the case – our focus should be on the people involved. That’s why at work, I am renewing my dedication to making people’s work lives better through my writing, and here on this blog, I am renewing my dedication to prayerfully share a more spiritual truth. I’ll continue to speak for those who have no voice, like the unborn, and I will, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be one of the voices that serve as an example of the “alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.”
As Pope Francis ends his message, so I end this blog post: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.