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“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. ” — Proverbs 18:17, English Standard Version
“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” — not Mark Twain
The first quote was likely first written 3,000 years ago, one of the proverbs of King Solomon. It assumes a fair hearing. It assumes that the listener or listeners are open to hearing contradictory testimony or adversarial questioning of the first speaker.
The proverb is still true today, yet the public square now features goons whose leaders understand that their side will “seem right” if “the other” never gets to come and effectively question their claims. In such an environment, amplified by social media with algorithms favoring the lie and suppressing the truth, those who would speak truth to power, or even just engage in real dialog, are at enormous disadvantage. Still, the ancient wisdom is true.
Human beings start filtering or dialing down the mass and social media noise, and start noticing the loud chorus is singing off the same sheet, and that the tunes are quite predictable. So, our society depends on effective advocates questioning the conventional wisdom, challenging the dominant narrative. So, each of us needs to grab our boots and, in the words of the old Army running song: “shine them up, lace them up, put them on your feet.”