Ancient building techniques used to begin a new building with the cornerstone. The cornerstone was the determinant of the direction the building faced, the trueness of its walls, and the level of its floors. Every other feature of the building derived from the cornerstone.
The cornerstone must sit on a stable foundation. Builders in San Francisco learned the truth of this when the 58-story Millennium Tower began sinking, to the tune of 17 inches and leaning 14 inches. Developers have finally developed a fix for the tower, but it is going to cost more than its original construction to correct.
Other examples of the importance of the cornerstone abound. In the political realm, there are ill-founded countries like North Korea, Venezuela, and Syria, to name a few. In the realm of religion, there have been groups like Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple cult, the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, and the Heaven’s Gate cult in southern California.
Cornerstones are sorta like lie-detectors. They will tell you if the building is leaning or if it will eventually fall. Those who close their eyes to the inherent flaws of a building do so to their peril. Those who believe the “fake news” claims we hear so much today have become cynical.
The people who followed Jim Jones to Guyana suspended critical thinking. The Bible calls this critical thinking, “discernment” which is the ability to judge the value or truth of a thing. A friend of mine naively posts things that are not true, having no discernment to be able to determine the truth of a matter.
It’s obvious that a strong, true cornerstone is needed for building with integrity. But what can be said to a world that is growing increasingly more cynical? The answer is not easy, but there is an answer. Basically, the answer is to find and stick close to people and organizations that are transparent and preoccupied with the truth. Here are a few:
There are other trustworthy sources, however, the first step in being informed is setting the cornerstone of the building first. Poynter, Pew, and Politico are such organizations. From there other sources can be added. The key idea here is to avoid cynicism and learn how to trust again. It’s a cornerstone of democracy – trust, transparency, and truth.