Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Inconvenience of Truth

Just because the subjectivity of "truth" is inconvenient, doesn't make it less true.

It has been proven that we are each the sum of our experience, that we each perceive the world through our own unique frame of reference. Therefore, our "truth" is subject to unique interpretation, often contrived to comply with our, or our peer group's agenda. Empirically, it has been proven that if several individuals are confined to a controlled environment and subjected to a stimulus or series of stimuli, then removed from the environment without an opportunity to interact, that each reports having undergone a distinct experience, one from the other. Surprising? Not really, in a world where "absolute zero" doesn't equal "0".

"Absolutes" are a rarity and the concept of the absolute is often employed to "rally the troops", as in religious or political fundamentalism. Curiously, those seeking to employ the concept of "truth" to further an agenda often do so because their argument, left to stand on its own, is either unconvincing or deeply subject to interpretation, as indeed most things are. To reinforce an argument, it might be referred to as "absolute truth", meaning true beyond question. If I say to you, "the sky is blue" because it is a bright, cloudless midday, that statement must be true, right? However, you could observe the sky to be azure, cerulean, etc. Who would be correct? We each would be because our observation is our truth.

Employing our "truth" in an argument is a slippery slope. It smacks of exclusionism and fundamentalism and, while it serves a purpose, it does nothing to further harmony or understanding or effective communication. But there's certainly no lack of evidence as to its effectiveness: religion being a perfect example. If your "truth" is as true as you may think, it will have no trouble standing on its own without repeated reinforcement or the need for widespread agreement. Such truths are a rarity, indeed.

Whose truth is the right one? Whose truth is absolute?

I'll answer my own questions: everyone's and no one's.

It requires our force of will to "suspend" our truth sometimes in order to build better communication and better relationships with others, especially those with whom it appears we have great philosophical differences. Such actions are the opposite of fundamentalism and often lead to beautiful discoveries about oneself that might not occur otherwise. Indeed, a knife does not get sharper without friction. Nor does truth reveal itself without effort. Through occasionally yielding our comfortable ground just a little, we open a universe of truth to ourselves, a universe that has been waiting to be discovered. Of course, to yield requires that we be motivated to yield. What constitutes sufficient motivation? Might we get hurt in the process? Will it be worth it, in the end?

We spend our lives searching for truth in order to be at peace.

Are you at peace?

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