11 June 2020


I've been thinking about the word "truth" lately.

Truth is a controversial word.  It seems simple:  the quality or state of being true; in accordance with fact or reality (from Oxford Languages).

The problem is, truth can be relative.  Don't get me wrong, I do believe in absolute truth. I mean, the truth is, there is no such thing as a square circle.  The truth is, if you drop something within gravity's pull, it will fall.  I also happen to believe that absolute truth exists within the spiritual realm: there is a God.  I am not him.

The way I'm thinking of relative truth is in the way of the old story of the blind men and the elephant.  Each of the ten men spoke the truth about what they saw through their fingertips.  But the absolute truth of what an elephant looks like was found in the combination of their ten relative truths.

A lot of people talk about "my truth."  People want to speak and believe their own truths about things.  I used to have a problem with that, because I didn't understand how truth could be different for different people.  But everyone has a side.  Everyone has an opinion.  Everyone has a unique experience.

I've seen relative truth divide people, and it makes me sad. I wish we could all listen to each other's truth with open ears and hands.  I wish we could validate each other.  The phrase, "I see you" is being thrown around a lot these days, but I wish it was more heartfelt, not just the latest buzz phrase.

The absolute truth is, if two or more people have a common experience, there will be two or more truths.  It's for us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. It's for us to hear each other - for me to hear you without rising to my own defense, and you to hear me without rising to your own defense.  It's for us to realize and acknowledge that we do not have the corner on the market for truth, that our personal version of the truth is not necessarily THE truth. It's for us to be humble, conciliatory, willing to own our part in the other person's truth, willing to be kind and gentle in our presentation and in our hearing.  It's for us to present our own truth in a way that doesn't aim to maim another person. It's for us to be honest with ourselves as we tell our truth to each other, admit our desire to lash out, to make others embrace our truth, to deny the truth of others, and to resist that desire.

Maybe if we combine our relative truths to see the whole, we can tend to each others' wounds, offer each other grace, and continue in gentle relationship with one another.  Maybe we can clean up the mess of this world.

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