There is a giant chasm that lies between what we Know and what we Don’t Know. A lot can get lost there. There is the old adage that the victors of a war tell the future the facts and the story, and it’s left to us and the people past us to decide how ‘true’ all of that really is.
It’s easy to forget how very deep the shadows are between the Known and Unknown and within those shadows lies the Truth. Ah, but the Truth is an instrument like everything else and it can either be used as a light to illuminate, or as a bludgeon, to beat down. In reading an article about a recent crime I am left wondering how much of the picture we are missing as we stand together looking into that abyss.
There’s another saying, as I run through my list of old adages, that there are three sides to every story, what Person 1 says, what Person 2 says, and the Truth. The meaning being that each party will inherently tell a story the way they see it, good or ill, and that they cannot extract their own bias. The ‘Truth’ is the revelation of the facts without any bias.
Except there’s not a way to get that, is there?
Even as we enter the fray WE have our OWN bias to contend with, even if we don’t see it.
Look no further than the current Supreme Court who makes rulings partially based on precedent, partially based on established law or custom and partially on their own biases. Sure, they CLAIM they are unbiased but no one is.
We cannot live a life, and experience what we do and then flip a switch to shut it all off.
It doesn’t work that way.
That’s why the truth is so slippery.
That’s why it’s always in question, these days.
The truth has become another tool to be used in battle, and we tend to believe whatever truth best serves our needs and ascribes to how we see the world.
Facts exist without need of comment or explanation.
The truth though tends to need an asterisk to help guide us towards what it means and it’s a matter of who that guide is that will tell us which truth we get.
How many times have we seen someone convicted of a crime only years later be freed because they were not the person who had committed that crime?
Which then makes you ask – what truth damned them then?
I turn back again to the case I read about and to an anecdote I’ll concoct out of whole cloth.
A man is walking down the street.
He nods to another man as they pass.
FIRST man believes he was nodding in a friendly way.
SECOND man believes it was an aggressive act and confronts First Man.
The two get in a scuffle and the First Man, believing his life is at risk, pulls a revolver out and it goes off.
Second Man is mortally wounded and dies.
First Man is arrested for the assault and charged with manslaughter.
He believes he is innocent.
What is the truth?
One can say that the first man should not have had a weapon, or that he should not have pulled it out but we ARE a nation that believes in self defense, even that which takes another life. While he may have used poor judgment, the first man may have been in the right because he believed he was being assaulted and could have been mortally injured himself.
So what happened?
Well, one person across the street saw the First Man act in an intimidating and aggressive manner.
Another person on the other side of the street saw the Second Man attack the First Man, unprovoked.
Where’s the truth?
NOW assume there were no visual witnesses but a video witness that caught the exchange.
It appears that the Second Man attacked the first.
What we don’t see is that the First Man was speaking to the Second and used derogatory or threatening language and the scuffle ensued.
The Second Man cannot speak to this because they are dead.
Where’s the truth?
The fact is that we may never quite know.
We do our best, we get all of the information we can, all of the facts we are able, and we see where it leads but there are thousands of incidents where we’ll never know what really happened. We’ll never see the full picture. The sad and tragic fact is that crimes have been committed, people have been punished, and wrongs have gone unpunished and facts unknown because the ‘victor’ told the story. Look no further than history for examples of this.
Look no further than social media and the many instances of people who we will never meet calling out one another for crimes and misdeeds and people jump to conclusions after hearing only one side of the story or just an allegation.
There will be people who will pay a price that they had no cause to pay, and sometimes that’s just how it works.
The best we can do is to keep our eyes and minds open and to listen to all the facts to see where they lead before we convict someone in our minds.
We are not perfect, we humans, but we owe it to one another not to damn each other without hearing as much information as we can. We need to take a moment, take a breath, and wait before we get on our soapbox because we may just be wrong.
And frankly, let’s be real, real honest, not everything we see, read, and hear calls for our public outrage.
And that’s the truth.