For centuries people believed the world was flat. In fact, they defended this belief so strongly that anyone making a claim to the contrary was considered crazy. It took several astute philosophers, greek astronomers, and three misguided ships to awaken the consciousness of the larger populace.
When the new world had been discovered, many thousands of people sought refuge from persecution. They desperately flocked to this country to find a little piece of land to build the life they envisioned. However, even with an intimate knowledge of pain and suffocation, many willingly enslaved others.
The slave trade thrived and grew, gaining a footing of enormous proportions in this country. These half-men, as many saw them, were brutalized all in the name of superiority and profit. It took a select few with a broader definition of the meaning of humanity to break the chain, and give these people the respect and equality they deserved.
Perception and truth are funny things. Something is a fact of the world until a few brave souls stand up to challenge it. The group will often fight because change is difficult. As humans, we want a firm grasp of our reality – unmovable facts that define the shape of our world and who we are. The anxiety and fear intimately tied to change rules every decision the group makes, and those in a position of “authority” often use these emotions to manipulate actions, thoughts, and beliefs.
For fans of The Walking Dead, you can see this clearly in the town of Woodbury. The Governor used the rescue attempt of two characters as a call to arms to attack a smaller group just trying to survive. He painted them as a threat, terrorist bent on taking over the town and destroying the peace they’d fought to create. His truth, created out of fear and revenge, became the townspeople’s reality… until they realized he was freaking insane.
Why do I use fiction instead of something going on in the world today?
Well, that may be the easiest question to answer. Because fiction often mirrors society, only on a tighter more intense scale. What we’re capable of seeing from a more objective standpoint can be a better example than current events, not because it can’t be argued, but people are more willing to calmly discuss something that doesn’t directly affect their lives.
Before we “choose a side” of any issue, we must first consider the lessons of the past. How much of what we believe as a society has been disproven or changed? Hell, when I grew up, Pluto was still a planet. But millions of children will never know this because the shape of their reality has been forever changed.
Anyone asserting anything as an absolute truth is simply talking about their truth, the way they see the world at this very moment. That’s not say it’s a lie, but it’s also not a fact.
Here’s the difference in bullet point format:
- I was born June 26, 1973.
- I have four sisters and one brother.
- I was married twice.
- I birthed three children and lost a fourth in my third month of pregnancy.
- I currently live on a farm in West Virginia.
- I haven’t died yet.
My Truth –
- No political party has the definitive answer on how to run the country well.
- God exists because I believe he does, not because anyone else tells me so.
- There are energies and things in this universe we will never be able to explain or record.
- Man is inherently good.
- We are all beings of light with a greater purpose only the universe knows.
- Separation is an illusion. We are all connected whether we choose to recognize it or not.
- We will not change until we release fear and doubt.
- There are no ultimate truths.
There’s a distinct difference between fact and truth.
Facts are actual recordable data at a specific moment in time, some of which may change – like Pluto being a planet or my father having more children I don’t know about – but for the most part they’re stationary points in history. It was a fact that people believed the world was flat, but not an actual fact that the world was flat. So, we have to be very careful about what we point out to be absolute. I know for a fact the sun will rise each morning… until it doesn’t.
Truth is based on individual or group perception. It’s usually followed by an extremely emotional argument about how someone else is right or wrong. While interesting and provocative, it can also be very divisive. Man has proven its willingness to fight to the death for these truths, causing pain and chaos. Not one of our more endearing qualities as humans, but certainly a defining characteristic.
So, here’s where I screw with your head.
Given that people believed the world being flat was an absolute fact, can we say for certain that anything we know without a doubt to be fact is more than a personal truth?
Fact – I haven’t died yet.
Truth – But I suppose it depends on whether I’ve actually ever lived in the first place. 🙂