News & Commentary State

C.S. Lewis warned us about fake news almost 70 years ago

Almost 70 years ago, C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, published the best selling classic titled, Mere Christianity.

Within the pages of that masterpiece of literature, Lewis seemingly predicted — with near perfection — the current tendency to embrace fake news or false stories provided they present our opposition in the worst light possible.

Lewis wrote: “The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible?

“If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on, we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything–God and our friends and ourselves included–as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed forever in a universe of pure hatred.”

It’s a remarkable warning from Lewis and one that our society, evidently, has failed to heed.

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