We have finally gotten into the 2020’s, and it’s not only a new year, but also a new decade. I know that for me and a great number of other people, the past number of years has been very difficult. While my own personal situation has been very chaotic (more about that in another post), the state of our world has felt like there’s no solid ground on which to stand on, and the normal rules of our culture and how people interact have disintegrated. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and there’s been many people who have written or spoken about our being in a “post-truth” world, and I think that there’s more to discuss than just that blank statement. Overall, I think that what we have is that people (on all sides) are feeling like the truth, as they know it, isn’t respected, and therefore the people who don’t respect it aren’t worthy of respect.
I’ve come to think of three versions of truth: 1) That which is mine, 2) That which is yours or other people’s, and 3) That which doesn’t belong to anyone (which I’m calling “The Truth”).
- My Truth: I see this as how I understand the world to be from my own experience and what I’ve seen. It makes sense to me and fits in with how I think the world works. I will tend to live my life in ways that falls in line with this reality and as long as I don’t do anything that negatively affects anyone else by this, it shouldn’t matter to anyone else. Hopefully it affects people positively!
- Other’s Truth: This is what you believe and fits your understanding of the world. This may or may not be in line with My Truth and could be directly opposed. As long as your truth doesn’t impinge upon my way of living my life, it doesn’t affect me.
- The Truth: These are facts that hold true when measured, observed, and proven by different people in different situations, regardless of their personal truths. Things like “Florida is on average warmer than New York” and “Grass is green” fall in this category.
In a perfect world, we would all feel good about My Truth, respect Your Truth (even if I don’t agree with it), and we would all accept The Truth. Right now, in our present world, this is not the case.
Here are the problems that I see with each of these:
- Problems with My Truth: When people think that My Truth is The Truth, they think they can impose what they see as right on others, regardless of what Other’s Truth is. They close themselves off to other’s experiences and keep themselves in their own bubble. It then becomes a struggle instead of a conversation and cooperation.
- Problems with Other’s Truth: If My Truth is The Truth, then Other’s Truth must be wrong if it contradicts mine. This disrespects others and negates their experience. It makes anyone who doesn’t fall in line with My Truth the enemy who has to be defeated. This stops any type of meaningful conversation or understanding of others.
- Problems with The Truth: If we can’t agree on The Truth, then we will never be able to talk with each other. Right now, there are people who will deny what is objectively presented in front of them. We see this daily with our politicians saying something and then denying they said it, or people seeing someone do something and then say “He didn’t do (or say) that” even though the the evidence is right in front of them. Also there are particular media outlets that are intentionally lying in their messaging and looking to divide people.
While I feel that there are particular populations that are outright messing with The Truth (and that’s My Truth!), the bigger problem is that there is a big disrespect for Other’s Truth in this world. In the past two decades, many people and groups that have not felt heard and Their Truth has been respected have been standing up and stating that they have rights. Examples of this are the #Metoo Movement, Black Lives Matter, The Standing Rock Protests, Marriage Equality and many others. What we have seen is a backlash of people in power saying that these groups don’t deserve to have Their Truth respected and to have legislation made that directly damages these people because Their Own Truth is valued more highly.
So, what’s the answer to this problem? That’s something that our culture itself needs to deal with on a much deeper level. We can see that since the question of Truth is in question right now, so fighting about what The Truth is right now is really not helpful, as we’ve just seen battle lines drawn and skirmishes fought daily. My own thought is that if we can at least get to know Other’s Truth, and tell My Truth, and hopefully get people to know that they don’t have to agree, but they can respect me, and if I can respect Their Truth, we might be able to make a change in the culture.
The cultural battles are exhausting and don’t get anywhere, and I’d much rather play and smile. I’m hoping that the 2020’s will be a kinder and more playful decade, and I’m just trying to do my part to make that happen.