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We are instinctively blind to what is not relative. We are not cameras. We select. Robert Henri
What is the truth? Is it the quality or state of being true? Is it that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality? Is it a fact or belief that is accepted as true?
Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”Henry David Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
Today we hear about “alternative facts.” Fake news is not new. Mark Antony heard the rumor that Cleopatra had committed suicide, and then stabbed himself in the abdomen – only to discover that Cleopatra herself had been responsible for spreading the rumor. He later died in her arms.
Psychology Today says: The mind does not perceive reality as it is, but only as it can, filtering, distorting and interpreting it. In modern times it has been argued that truth is largely constructed by social and cultural processes, to say nothing of individual desires and dispositions. There are categories and constructs regarding, for example, race and sexuality which may not reflect biological let alone metaphysical realities.
Some people feel if something works, it may well be true; if it doesn’t, it most probably isn’t. Some things work for me, but not for you. Is it possible there is no “truth” only “perspective”?
The greatest thing a human soul can ever do in this world is to see something and tell what he saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, and thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one. John Ruskin
How can we know if we are lying to our self? Of course, self-deception is hard to distinguish from the truth. If it wasn’t we would never deceive our self. We usually don’t believe we are lying to our self, deceiving our self or in any way not dealing with what is. It is so easy to take credit for the good and find someone else to blame for what goes wrong in our life. We can do our best to bring radical honesty into our lives. If we will unflinchingly look at the reality of our life, our relationships, finances, and all other areas of our life and take 100% responsibility for the situation we find our self in. We can then look outside our selves and see the truth residing there as well.
If we can tell the truth, or at least don’t lie. We can try to look at the many sides of something to determine the truth of it. It is a good exercise and the more we practice the better at it we will become.
Psychology Today says, “truth is constructive and adaptive, while lies are destructive and self-defeating. So how useful is a self-deceptive thought or reaction going to be to you? Are you just covering up an irrational fear, or helping to create a solid foundation for the future? Are you empowering yourself to fulfill your highest potential, or depriving yourself of opportunities for growth and creating further problems down the line? Is the cycle simply going to repeat itself, or will the truth, at last, make you free?
Truth is something I question as a writer. At my Writers group, we were discussing true stories versus fiction. My belief is there are no “true stories”, that are absolutely nothing but the truth. There are always three sides to a story and only one is told by whoever is doing the telling. History was written by the victors. It wasn’t the truth; it is “his story”.
At least fiction doesn’t pretend to be the truth as it gives us the motivations behind the actions. It is in fiction we learn about ourselves. As the author not constrained by facts can delve into the heart of who we are, what motivates us, how we think, how our biases cloud our thoughts and actions. It is in fiction where the real truth of who we are is told. Not facts, not deeds as they happened, but the truth of who we are as people. It is in fiction we find ourselves. Fiction can go deeper into the heart of situations because it is not constrained by facts. Most of us do not know and understand ourselves and our deepest motivations; reading about characters and their motivations helps us see our self.
Is fiction the lie that tells the truth? Isn’t it through fiction we get to the motivations behind the actions and realize the motivation behind what is bad, isn’t always bad, and the motivation behind what is good, isn’t always good? Don’t we get to know characters better than we know real people? Isn’t it through those characters, we begin to understand our self and others better?
I believe in not quite knowing. A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning. “I write out of curiosity and bewilderment…I’ve learned a lot I could not have if I were not a writer”. William Trevor
Lies That Tell the Truth: A Book of and about Metaphor Paperback – Dec 20 2000