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The lines between what is true, right, and good, and what is false, dangerous, and evil are purposely being blurred.

As the days of the first month of 2024 tick away toward the 2024 election, our country faces dangerous threats. But perhaps the greatest threat we may face is ourselves. As citizens we have rights — but we also have responsibilities, and the first of these is to use our brains to sort truth from lies.

Instead of becoming numb to continuous extremist actions that normalize violence, ignoring bad language, overlooking lie after lie by those using falsehood for political gain, and minimizing threats to public safety — every one of us has an obligation to be a voice of truth. To do less than that is to slide into the acceptance of corruption like some third-rate banana republic.

As President Joe Biden would say, “We’re better than that folks.”

It isn’t just the disinformation being spewed out at truly overwhelming rates by social media, or the AI  samples that purport to give you the “whole truth” and only scrape the surface. It isn’t just the continuous campaign litany of grievance — most of it these days from the far-right that has now become the mainstream Republican message box.

It isn’t just the culture war attacks and the racist code words or the parent’s rights hoopla, or the blind loyalty to dangerous rhetoric. This is about truth and what lies have done or will do to our country.

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Here are a few truths:

  • Biden overwhelmingly won the 2020 popular vote and the electoral vote to become the 46th President of the United States.
  • The economy is in good shape, unemployment is at a 50-year low, and the price of gas is coming down. Yes, packaged goods producers are still price-gouging (especially on the price of diapers!), housing costs are high everywhere, but the COVID pandemic is past, and we can gather in a park or theatre again.
  • Trump lost the 2020 election and yes, he keeps pretending that he won, either because of his ego, his fears of looking like the loser he is, or his desperate attempt to stay out of prison.
  • In this country, no matter what Trump pretends, no person is above the law, including presidents and former presidents. “He doesn’t understand how government works,” said one primary voter this morning in New Hampshire. “He just wants to tear it down.”
  • Trump has been impeached twice, indicted four times, charged with 91 criminal counts — a record unsurpassed by any other defeated or serving official in this country. He has decided that his best defense is to play the victim.
  • Yes, librarians, and libraries are good — the free exchange of viewpoints and information lies at the root of democracy.
  • Israel was indeed attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7 in the greatest attack on its citizens since the World War II Holocaust. [As a journalist, I have seen the evidence and it is overwhelming and heartbreaking.]
  • Israel’s response to the attack on it by Hamas has been an ill-conceived, full-scale assault on Gaza, which has now claimed the lives of 25,000, mostly women and children. This is war. Time would be required to determine if it is more than that.
  • Israel’s leadership has rejected the idea of a two-state solution, and that rejection is seeding hate. In fairness, when they agreed in the 1990s to a two-state solution, it was the Palestinians who rejected it, but now is the time for Israel’s Prime Minister to listen to the world.
  • Ukrainians are still battling the Russian invasion fending off nightly attacks on their cities, in ugly trench warfare where, just as in World War I, their trenches are filling with mice and rats. They are holding on to their democracy, waiting to see if the Western world will meet its 1994 commitment to help them defend themselves against Russia.
  • U.S. funding for Ukraine and a good border control piece of legislation is at the mercy of an election-denying speaker of the House who is being held hostage himself by a few far-right House members and — it appears — Donald Trump.
  • Trump and Project 2025 are a threat — and as informed citizens, we have a responsibility to our democracy to assure its continuation.

Here are a few falsehoods and lies:

  • The FBI dressed up like MAGA Republicans and attacked our own capitol on January 6, 2021. [Nope. Not true.]
  • Just like QAnon has proclaimed, Trump is a messiah-like figure who is here to save us all — or at least those who give him unconditional loyalty. [nadda — Trump is in it for himself.}
  • Every president needs full presidential immunity. [The other 44 Presidents who preceded Trump, and the one elected after him haven’t needed immunity.]
  • Teachers are trying to indoctrinate students. [No. Teachers are dedicated public servants who barely have time to teach their subject matter and get through the day. They aren’t indoctrinating students in anything except a love of knowledge.]
  • Israel attacked itself and just made up the story of the massacre of more than 1,000 people, and the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas, as an excuse to attack Gaza [A horrible lie — as a news journalist who has been given access to the heartbreaking evidence, this is false.]
  • Republicans in the House of Representatives want a negotiated deal about Ukraine and border control. [No they don’t. It appears they would rather run on their grievances — not solutions to the problems.]
  • Christian Nationalism is a religion [No, it is in no way a religion – it is a political power grab using religion to control people.]
  • Spoken by a New Hampshire primary voter on Tuesday morning: “We need Trump. He’s a divine intervention from God.” [No, that would mean that God has a perverse sense of humor, wouldn’t it?]
  • Putin, like so many of the world’s autocrats, is a good man. [Putin is a power-hungry dictator who cares not one wit about the people, his soldiers, about the Ukrainian children he has ordered be kidnapped and brain-washed, or about his sham democracy.]
  • If Trump were to win the 2024 election, he would “Only be a dictator on day one”. [Right, sure.]

Ark Valley Voice’s mission from our very start has been to give truth a voice. The difference between truth and lies, besides the obvious: whenever you are trying to ascertain what is the truth and what is a lie, consider the motive. Ask yourself —“Why is it being told?”

Democracy isn’t free — it comes with an obligation to practice it.

Editor’s note: “Our Voice” is the opinion section of Ark Valley Voice.