Truth does matter. In the age of “fake news,” politicians lying with impunity and easy dissemination of false information on social media, discerning the truth is an especially important issue.

Buddhists teach us that without truth there cannot be wisdom. If you lie to yourself, it is quite difficult to make thoughtful choices in your actions. And if you lie to others, you seriously hinder their ability to find the wisest path.

With so many difficult and complex challenges facing us in the world, it is nearly impossible to move forward if we’re not using true information to guide us. And the intense partisanship that infects our national discussion relies on the use of mistruth, and alternative interpretations of reality, to magnify our differences so that we can’t find common ground.

But, fortunately, there is something each of us can do that will help to improve things. We can all be more careful about discerning the real truth of what we read and hear in the news, and be especially careful about what we choose to share with others in our social networks. Check for sources, look for fact-checking and, before sharing, pause to ask yourself if you might be inadvertently sharing unverified information. Also, ask yourself if what you are sharing is meant to inform or inflame, and try not to make things worse than they already are.

If more of us were to be more responsible consumers and disseminators of information, I truly believe we could begin to turn the tide on the scourge of false information that infects so much of our national discourse, and begin to have more reasonable and effective dialogue.

Doug Zlatin


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