Are you a truth-teller? A truth-seeker? I like to think I am. But while there are “real” truths…facts like 2 + 2 = 4, and forces like gravity, that will not be denied, at work in every moment…so much of what we believe to be true is shaded by perception, or intention, or seeing a chain of events unfold from beginning to end.
Is truth in the eye of the beholder? To a certain degree, yes. Though I don’t believe in a relative morality, things are not always what they seem at first glance. Context and understanding are critical factors in determining truth.
I’ve known some people who use truth as a weapon, a kind of battering ram to be fearlessly used and proudly claimed. Honesty and truth are closely interwoven. And sometimes truth hurts. But I’ll admit I’m always on guard when I sense this is happening. Someone who uses truth as a way to plow through life and over people needs to ask some questions about motive.
And that begs the question: who determines truth? All of us do, at least so far as we are able. Isn’t that what just happened this week in the election? Voters evaluated candidates, the economy, national security, healthcare, etc., etc., etc., and judged the truth of the candidates’ claims for themselves.
There’s another way we determine our truth, and that is by the words we feed ourselves.
Oh, I don’t mean that we change objective truths…telling myself I live in Florida when I live in Alaska is not going to take me very far. I’m not going to wake up in Disney World tomorrow.
But our version of truth in matters of the heart, in opinion, in assumptions about others, their motives, their intentions, their efforts…our version of the truth is dependent on our specific view of life, and how we interpret it.
This is the “glass half full” meme, or the optimist/pessimist struggle.
Only it’s bigger than that.
Words and thoughts are so powerful. They can literally change the world. They change the way people view themselves, each other, family…words are critical to truth.
I read words that build me up, inspire me, help me reach to become, and I do become. I become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It can work the other way too.
And if it works for me, or against me, when the words are my own, the impact is even stronger when it comes to the things I allow myself to believe about others.
Because I’m the only person in the world that I can get into. I know my motivations, my intentions. I know when I make a mistake that I tried my best. That allows me to see my truth…I did the best I could. My heart was in the right place.
It’s not always so easy to see that truth from the outside. I don’t want to feel suspicious, or doubtful, or assume the worst about someone just because I can’t know the whole truth about them. Because when I do that, I create my version of their truth. Whether it is really “true” or not.
So why do we do it? Why do we let our assumptions get the better of us? Why do we let them color our views?
Drama is more entertaining than unvarnished reality. Sometimes prettier too.
I’m trying to be an honest person, trying to pay attention to those moments when I rush the story, mistake perception for reality.
It’s not easy, because I get in my own way. It’s a conscious battle, every day, to let truth come out without my assistance. It’s really tough.
Truth is universal. But it’s also personal…at least the version we tell ourselves. Finding the real thing…now that’s priceless.
Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love. Assume the good and doubt the bad. ~ Jeffrey R. Holland
What we see depends mainly on what we look for. ~ Anonymous