Truth - MIA
Truth? Where Art Thou?
What is Truth? I’m beginning to wonder if “Truth” exists.
Despite my failed attempts at gaining knowledge through the auspices of the Chicago Public Schools system in the sixties and seventies, I did manage to glean a few disconnected facts. One was that water, when flowing through a drain, will spin differently in plumbing installed north of the equator than similar installations south of the equator. Interesting, but not very useful to a prospective employer.
But in America, it is facts themselves that do the spinning. Often they can spin both ways at once, depending on the interpretation. This, to my rudimentary knowledge, defies the laws of physics, but it happens nonetheless. There seems to be much spinning of facts lately. So much so that it’s hard for the average, poorly educated citizen like myself to distill the truth from the raw, whirling facts.
Methinks there are some who like this.
Take the Downing Street Minutes, for example. Left-minded bloggers are all over their interpretation of the memo as proof of sinister intent of our Favorite Shrubbery vis a vis Iraq. Spittle is flying. On the Right, those few who deign to notice the memo are stifling their yawns. What us truly telling is that the many lathering donkeys are just now starting to make others take notice and to formulate their denials.
My Righty friend, Leucanthemum, writes me today about one such pooh-pooh article in National Review, which underscores the old-ness of the story. An interesting point, if it is valid, is that the memo itself is “hearsay thrice-removed”. This is a spin I haven’t yet heard, but then I listen to the Left. Typically, the article continues to spin its denial that the memo has any important implication.
As Dave at electablog says, Divide and Conquer is the rule of the day. Keep the electorate bickering on non-essentials (like Howard Dean’s comments and John Kerry’s military record), and they cannot unite on the important issues (like preemptive warfare, national debt, environmentalism, social security, job security, health care, racism, unemployment – I could go on…).
It’s getting hard to know truth even when its staring at you. There’s so many ways to spin reality, it’s – well, unreal! I, for one, find it difficult to tell fact from fiction anymore.
I guess Truth is what you make of it.
So many people on this planet, and to each their own version of Truth. It’s mystifying, really, that we haven’t yet torn this planet asunder purely from the disparity of opinion. Surely, the counter-spinning vortices of thought has never reached so many so quickly, to reach both hurricane velocities and critical mass simultaneously. Maybe we will rip the fabric of space-time soon.
Meanwhile, we keep spinning. Meanwhile, like Elvis, the Truth has left the building. Truth in politics or in media, it seems, is irrelevant these days. What matters more is spin itself. S/he who control the spin controls the vote, and whomever controls the vote gets the prize. That’s life in America, home of Invasive Marketing, Super-sizing, and Hostile Takeovers. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when these concepts combine in our politics.
We spin and spin, not knowing that we do. What are the consequences of inventing truth? The first casualty is truth itself, the second reason. The third casualty is hope. What do we lose next? I think anyone with a modicum of self-reflection can agree that there is a whole in our experience, something that we long for, but cannot find. This inexplicable “something” may be unique to the individual, but we are all missing – whatever it is. This undefinable “thing” we lack is, if I may be so bold as to think I understand, a firm grounding in truthfulness. What we are missing is an anchor with which we can stabilize our existence. Perhaps a better metaphor is to say we are without a firm foundation in truthful reality on which we can build our lives. Without this foundation we cannot raise ourselves into our full potential; Without our anchor we drift.
Many say that truth is subjective. Does it logically follow that truth is illusion? I tend to listen to and believe what the Left has to say, as this best fits what I have experienced in life. No one else has the same life experiences that I do, so it follows that no one else will see truth as I do. Is what I am seeing real? Can anyone know for certain? There are whole schools of thought that say what we experience outside ourselves is a dream. Zen thinking - if I understand rightly - relates everything knowable as a construct of mind; Without the mind nothing can exist. Reality is whatever is underlying the conceptuality of experience which, being beyond concepts, cannot be explained. Therein lies the One True Thing. But you cannot know it, only experience it.
This works like a monkey-puzzle to the Western mind, involved in the minutiae of existential phenomena. Opinions, really just fluctuations of mind, take on inflated values to the point of causing harm to others of differing opinions. Viewpoint supercedes reason, often escalating to violence and warfare. Such is the Western dilemma, to value belief over reason, opinion over ethics. Truth, if it exists at all, becomes immaterial to the advancement of dogma.
Another common understanding is that truth is relative. On one level, this is just a rephrasing of the above, on another perhaps it reflects an unspoken cultural agreement regarding manipulation of truth. Is my relative truth greater that yours? Can truth be subjected to either manipulation or to valuation? To do so undermines the definition of truth: Truth just is. One truth, by definition, should fit all. As evidenced in the media, in the blogosphere, and in politics, this just isn’t the case. Therefore, is it truth? No, it can’t be.
So if what we hear is untrue, in what can we believe? Perhaps that is another essay. For now allow me to advise this: we must trust ourselves. Listen to your inner voice, to your heart. It will not steer you wrong. Truth is speaking, underneath all the noise and spinning facts, all the blustering pundits – myself included – and only by silently listening can you hear it. To do so is rational, to do so is sane.