Where Is the Truth?

truthThe law is said to be a search for truth. After more than three decades looking for it, I still haven't found it.

Anyone who's ever watched a good lawyer at work knows facts are not absolute. They can be twisted and turned just about any way we want to suit our needs.

But when facts are filtered, distorted and stretched to bolster one's position, it raises the question we all should be asking in every situation:

"Where is the truth?"

I always knew facts could look different depending on the perspective of the viewer. And how those facts were weighted and prioritized was even more subjective.

The process of trying to present them in an objective and reasoned way, however, was nowhere to be found in the process of trying to get one's way. That is, after all, the job of the lawyer -- to zealously represent the interests of his or her client.

Limbo PartyIn this case, zealously must mean spinning the facts so the good side was out, and unfavorable views hidden out of sight.

It's the same thing in our political arena. The battle lines are drawn, and pols and pundits routinely gravitate toward one side or the other. And then bend over backwards to skew their presentation of policies, programs and proposals to best appeal for public support for their side of the issue (almost always with an eye to throwing or keeping the other guys out).

Sort of like doing the limbo with the truth. Or maybe twisting themselves in to pretzels.

pretzelThe media certainly encourages such "spinning," putting on expert after so-called expert to spout one reason or view after another they want people to adopt. It's as if they've already made up their minds how they want things to be. Then they go about finding ways of buttressing their arguments to justify their positions and encourage their adoption by others.

Then again, it isn't much different in any other aspect of human relations. People tend to be pretty rigid in their thinking. They see facts through a very thick lens, distorting them to show them (at least to themselves) in the way they most want those facts to be seen.

It's much like looking in the fun house mirrors that make us look thinner.
I guess there's nothing wrong with seeing things the way we want them to be -- or think they are, given the filters and distortions we impose upon them.

One of the great truths I learned over the years about seeing reality (interestingly, from my friend and spiritual teacher Tsen Tsing) is that the truth is interpretable. While we'd like to think it is an absolute, it is not. It varies based on the viewer's point of view, perception, and a whole host of factors very personal to that viewer.

So what's this have to do with you?

Look at the situations in our national and world affairs that have people so up in arms. The scope and role of government. Militarism. Taxes. Debt. Environmental degradation. Energy. Civil rights. Abortion.

Then consider the positions taken on each side of the issue. And the legions of surrogates who are dutifully trotted out to sway your opinion on the whole mess.

Do they? What arguments strike home with you? Which don't? What are the emotions you feel when they do? The thoughts that go through your head?

Do you shout at the other side, or turn them off when they're speaking? Or do you politely and rationally evaluate every word objectively, as if you didn't have a stand on the matter to start with?

Everything that goes on in our outer world is a reflection of some condition within us. The inner responses they trigger are keys to unlocking that door and understanding a little more what makes us tick.

If we truly want peace, somehow we have to find a way to erase the lines in the sand and move into new positions that allow us all to see things another way.

I suggest that way is to begin to understand why we are the way we are, and at least do our best to neutralize the influence of all the many hidden conditions within us that impose those filters.

The people we disagree with aren't doing anything differently than we are. They are seeing the world through their own set of filters and biases, just as we do through ours. We can't fault them for that. Nor beat ourselves up, either.

As we've all witnessed time and time again, no amount of fighting over the truths of a situation make anyone take off those glasses. It will only make them more entrenched and determined to show you who's right, and who's wrong.

Even if ultimately it kills you both.

Try to remember that next time you turn on the news. No matter which side's interpretation you're listening to, look behind the scenes and try to understand what the interests, filters and biases are that are causing them to see it that way and take such a stand.

Doing so will be much easier when you know your own as well.

Once you do, though, I promise you'll see things differently. You just might even find some common ground you never knew existed that could serve you both.

It might even be the truth. At least, a truth that can build a better tomorrow for all.

God bless you indeed.