What Is Truth?
I found myself recently engaged in a discussion which centered around the question “what is truth?”
An interesting question which poses many risks in terms of providing an answer. When I refer to risks, I am of course talking about the polar opposite exercise of earnestly pursuing too deep a philosophical debate that accomplishes little more than inflaming personal passions or, conversely, falling into a whimsical irreverence that is reminiscent of the Bill Cosby “why is there air” routine.
For those who may not recall the Cosby musings, the comedian related a story from his college days when he was dating a girl who was a philosophy major.
In his own unique way, Cosby wryly observed that while his girlfriend’s philosophy class debated the deep issues on subjects such as “why is there air?” he could not understand why such a question posed so great of a challenge. As an athletics major he knew the answer to why there is air . . . to blow up basketballs, footballs, volleyballs . . .
The above being said, as a writer I could not resist the urge to at least attempt to tackle the what is truth question, which I am happy to share with you now. I of course hope that you will generously provide your own “two cents” and offer your thoughts by way of a comment.
Interesting thoughts Jackie, which immediately turned my attention to “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” in which Neil Postman referenced the fear expressed by Aldous Huxley in his book Brave New World that “truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.” The question of course is simply this, with the advent of citizen journalism broadening the artificially narrowed funnel through which traditional media disseminated “truths” one cannot help but wonder what impact this will have on the question/observations you have presented.
You indicated that “We the people are not as bewildered as we once were,” and perhaps this is even truer today with the accessibility to information afforded us through social networking and social medium. But is volume really the basis for establishing the foundation to which you are referring? Or are we in fact experiencing an increasing cacophony of competing and even conflicting ideals that bring us no closer to the truth than we were when we were the huddled masses willing and trustfully accepting what those in power fed us as universal truths?
Ultimately, and perhaps a victim to the human need for simple explanations delivered in neatly packaged idioms, I cannot help but recall the “there are three sides to every story . . . yours, mine and the truth” axiom.
I do not think truth is so much something that we possess as it is something we need to seek with both openness and humility, as well as the acknowledgment that our personal experiences and resulting predilections like the compass itself does not always point the way to the true north.
I am not talking about the mindless acquiescence to the seemingly random (emphasis on seemingly) occurrences of everyday life, but instead an earnest curiosity that challenges and therefore extends us beyond our known, and often passionately guarded boundaries of supposed understanding.
In short, truth exists around us and despite us, occupying it’s own immutable realms of infinite existence. An existence, which has yet to be fully revealed to us but for a few fleeting moments that are manifested in the acts of decency, courage and love we are sometimes privileged to either experience or witness from time-to-time.
Now we may try to emulate these genuine events based on a subconsciously obfuscated memory that is as fleeting as a wisp of smoke. Perhaps this means that we must therefore be content with the fact that our recognition and ultimate pursuit of these better angels represent the pinnacle of truth in our present world. In essence, accept the fact that the awareness of truth will have to suffice until we experience truth in its full glory in a new world.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. Now I have to go a find a few basketballs and footballs to fill with air.