I am continually fascinated by how differently we can all interpret the same event.
I remember, gosh…maybe 19 years ago, when I went on this reading tear to understand “truth.” How can my truth be so different from your truth? Whose truth is real? Do we choose our own truths, because if that’s the case, couldn’t that be a pretty dangerous thing? But who gets to ultimately decide what is true?
I have to concede, I left my research frenzy even more confused than I started. But I am convinced, more than ever, that even in the midst of the confusion, it’s worth thinking about.
I believe there is power in a sincere search for the truth. To keep looking at what’s under our assumptions and judgements. To understand the root cause of events and not to look at them at face value. To wholeheartedly desire to understand what’s real and not simply believe whatever we read or hear. To commit to truth even in the face of realizing that it’s a muddy, messy, inconvenient and sometimes ugly aim.
Truth about ourselves. Truth about others. Truth about events. Truth about life. Truth.
We may not ever fully know what is true, but in our genuine commitment to understand, we are forced into empathy, we reject complacency, and we grow.
We become better in our commitment to truth.
Become a brave truth-seeker because of what it will make of you.
There is a brilliantly filmed scene in the movie “Sneakers” where Robert Redford and members of his security team begin rearranging Scrabble tiles in an effort to find a hidden message.
The same tiles were used to form a number of different messages. One message – a “truth” – was not a universal truth. But one message was better than others. In the same way, historians can look at “facts” and come up with different interpretations of history. There is no universal truth although some interpretations are generally regarded as better.
“Truth,” then, can be subjective, and within certain boundaries, we accept that.
Maybe this is where your research was going – or where you would hope the research went – some practices, behaviors etc are generally accepted as being more truthful than others. They have stood the test of time. They are generally accepted as conditions for a safe and sound society. They approach “certainty.”
We live in an age, however, where accepted truths – rules and laws – are being ignored or rewritten with increasing impunity and “truth isn’t truth.” We cross the line that we can co-exist in different realities and “our own truths” into the realm of confusion and chaos. What is, isn’t. What was, is no longer.
The tiles get rearranged into a “truth” that we no longer recognize.
I just love this post-Kimberly, so thought-provoking and also love Wendy’s comment below too pointing the paradox of truth.
The appreciation and understanding of what each of us classes as ‘truth’ is such a wonderfully hopeful principle. My truth is no better than your truth, they both exist concurrently, yet are so beautifully different.
Thank you, Kimberly and Wendy, for holding up the mirror to our thinking so beautifully.
Thank you, Garry. One of the things I’ve come to love about this community is how we all pull and stretch and expand the conversations for a richer understanding. Check out Tom’s comment below, as It is also a great addition to this exploration. (Tom will be at NLV BTW!)
thank you Kimberly, Tom’s reflections are so profound and powerful.
“There is such humility in learning. That maxim about the more that we learn, the more that we discover all that there is that we don’t know” – just so cool. NLV really is looking like a top gathering, shame I will only be there (in Chicago) from late evening on 12th Mar.
So looking forward to further comments on this awesome post.
Kimberly, there is such humility in learning. That maxim about the more that we learn, the more that we discover all that there is that we don’t know. Sometimes that reality smacks us so hard that we don’t ever want to say anything any more without hosing down every sentence with nuance, qualifiers and imprecise language, just to cover our, um… bases. We can’t float along on the sea, bobbing up and down with a mishmash of holding to the notion that there are no absolute truths, but we can lean in more when someone shares what their perspective is, and find nuggets of wisdom and growth, no matter how far fetched, imaginary or detached from reality that we think they are.
I think that you and I are similar, we hold certain things as bedrock foundations of our belief system, but we don’t feel it necessary to buy billboards proclaiming those to the world. We both know that we can only wade in so deep, and stay so long lest the riptide take us under and drown us in a sea of negativity or nonsense… but sometimes, getting your toes wet is nice and necessary. Besides, I know that if I shut down my filter and went all in on my deepest, most closely held beliefs, I might get some pained smiles back at me and people rather quickly shuffling away with a feeble wave and “Hey, it was nice talking to you…”
Judgment and discerning do have their place, and we may need some kind of mental refresher, psychic shower or some way of gaining distance when we mix it up with someone who is distinctly different from what we hold as truth. But sometimes truth is a catharsis and isn’t always dressed up like your prom date. What’s important is that exposure to other types of beliefs and thinking is not exposing yourself to disease, viruses or plagues. If it causes thought, introspection and taking inventory of what you really know or believe and why, is it such a bad thing?
When I met my wife we dated for four years. Part of that courtship involved me taking stock of my religious beliefs, examining what hers were, and comparing the two. Before we married, I decided to change religions. I still hold to those beliefs today. It wasn’t easy or something that I sought to do or would have done without that prodding, but I learned a great deal and was able to embrace her faith as my own. Before meeting her, that would’ve been certainly a very long shot for me to take on, but opening my mind to what was presented proved to be beneficial to both of us and our relationship. I’m not saying that every encounter will be like that, but does the examination really hurt?
Thanks for another eye opener. You’re just the most bestest at making people do the thinking thang… (and again, I write responses longer than the piece upon which I am commenting… leave it to me.)
And that’s one of the many reasons I adore you, Tom, because you think deeply about these things and are willing to jump into the thick of it all with me. Wouldn’t you guess it, “belief” is one of my top 5 strengths!
Surprise – surprise… relator and belief, will wonders never cease? Sometimes I do want to swap out one of my “I” strengths… input, ideation, intellection… just for variety. Thinking deeply for me is like breathing… Sometimes I might prefer to not think so much.
Kim I love your wild search in your earlier years to find a common truth that we can all get behind. And I love your confusion in the discovery that everyone is in their own reality and experiencing their own truth. What a mind-blowing thing to realize. I find in my work, we each get to recognize what resonates as true and right for us, while allowing others to do the same. When you live in your truth and I live in my truth we can make amazing magic together! Thank you for sharing! ❤️
It’s holding those two truths as equal, that makes life interesting, isn’t it, Wendy!