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Some Thoughts about Truth

We are locked in an ancient war. The war between force and liberty. Rather than face the fear that comes with liberty, rather than put in the work that is required to be free with responsibly, one side of that war writes a play in which each person has their part written for them. Actors who refuse the role or try to ad lib don’t get to quit the play, they get forced into performing. The actors on the stage who know the truth have an obligation to break script. One weapon in this war is the bending of the truth or the outright denying of it. 

Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem That the riches of worlds can produce, And priceless the value of truth will be when The proud monarch’s costliest diadem Is counted but dross and refuse.

Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize To which mortals or Gods can aspire. Go search in the depths where it glittering lies, Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies: ‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp When with winds of stern justice he copes. But the pillar of truth will endure to the last, And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first, For the limits of time it steps o’er. Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst, Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst, Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

– John Jaques, 1851

The truth is like a lion

I recently read a long article that asks the question “what ever happened to the truth?”

My answer to that question is – nothing. The truth is the truth.

What the author really means to ask is what happened to mankind’s quest for the truth. The article reads, “Opinions that are not backed up by facts are given airtime and normalized by a mass media that does not know how to navigate a surreal world they, in part, helped build — perpetuating the cycle rather than breaking out of it.” The interesting thing is that even though they know this (and admit this) people still can’t agree on just which facts are real and which ones are being normalized.

I say, there was no collusion between Trump and Russia. Right now the evidence is in my favor. However, many say I’m wrong and the evidence is not in my favor. The same is true about things like global warming. I say mankind isn’t causing the earth to warm up and even if they were it isn’t a bad thing to have happen based on history. Others say I am wrong and am just ignoring the facts.

The problem isn’t the truth, the problem is with emotion.

Emotion is a fine thing really and it has many benefits. However, it often works as an impediment to thinking. Even the best meaning folk can get things wrong of course. I don’t mean to say that all mistakes are the result of emotion or senselessness.

Time also is such an impediment. People are too angry to think and don’t take the time to think. If we ever really want the truth then we have to ponder and pondering takes time and effort. Emotion is so much easier to manage than thought.

Couple that with the fact that people don’t like to be wrong on things they feel emotional about. If you get all hot and bothered over something and that something turns out to be false then you feel rather foolish or stupid. This is because you likely were foolish or stupid. Perhaps you made an honest mistake, but doubtfully so. More than likely you were duped or uneducated on the matter but drew a conclusion anyway. As such you have little desire to admit this, even to yourself.

I suppose it boils down to knowing the difference between internal truth, external truth, and eternal truth.

Some things are true, only for us or for a few people together. These things are internal truths. As mentioned above, it is true that I like apple pie. That’s an internal truth. Then there are external truths. To say that the sun in shining. That’s external. Others can verify it. But it’s not an eternal truth because the sun might not be shining in an hour. Lastly there are eternal truths. These are harder to grasp. Impossible to prove. We can’t even say that the laws of physics are eternal. But we can postulate that something is. Meaning something exists that always will in a state that isn’t changing. What? Some say natural laws, some say God, some say chaos, some say entropy.

No one has a claim on truth.

Knowledge is power and because of that some people want to hold onto the knowledge so they have the power. They want to keep truth to themselves to wield it. But that’s the thing about truth – it is, what it is. That’s probably the best way to define truth – it is what it is.

Why is all this important?

Quite simply because some people continue to deny the truth, to fight against it, and to use that to harm others or even to unknowingly harm themselves. There are also people who deny that truth exists. They ironically say they only thing that can be known is that nothing can be known. Which of course leaves one to question how exactly they know that let alone come to a place of certitude concerning it. Humans don’t do well with the unknown. They like to put things into neat little boxes and make sense of them. Sometimes they do this poorly and something real becomes a ghost story. Meaning they don’t understand the real truth so they make up one.

There’s a common saying, one I dislike greatly: “Their truth”. The reason I dislike this is because it tends to be as a replacement for actual truth. As if to say, “sure, that’s not really how things are, but it’s their truth”. So that means it counts and because it counts it disallows any other “truth”. 

That confusion of truth and the acceptance of non-truth as truth is harmful. It’s mentally harmful, it’s harmful to society. I suspect that this, perhaps more than any other reason, is why America stands at such a crossroads of anger. They fight because everyone believes their truth and not THE truth.

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