Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Truth Never Happens in Real Time

A friend of mine wrote a book and the first sentence is “Truth Never Happens in Real Time.” I always thought it presented an interesting theory.

There are all sorts of sayings about “truth”… “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” “The truth will set you free,” “the plain truth” or while taking the stand in a court of law you may be asked to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” So what about all this truth?

Being truthful is not easy especially when having to come to terms with two opposing views of “the truth.” Two people can have the exact same experience and have two totally different truths (views) of what happened. This is never more obvious to me than when my husband begins to tell a story. He paints a picture so unlike anything I experienced  I have to ask “when did that happen” or “who was with you”? His response to me is often “don’t you remember?” “No – not like that I don’t!”

Someone recently gave me a perfect example of this. She was on a tour bus with her husband when a lady in front of them tripped while stepping off the bus. To hear the husband tell the story the woman had difficulty maneuvering around because of her size and broke her leg. To hear the wife tell it, she was fit and trim and simply twisted her ankle! We’ve all been on one side or the other of this one: “I am not feeling well and won’t be in to work today.” So, are you wondering if your employee is truthful or are you wondering if your boss believes you?

As a parent, we teach our children the importance of telling the truth! When my kids were younger, I recited the tale about George Washington cutting down the cherry tree more than once. I have two daughters who have entirely different views on what “the truth” is, particularly when asked “WHO MADE THIS MESS?” I had to apologize recently when trying to get to the bottom of damages to a piece of etched glass in the living room. To tell the truth, (I had to say that at least once in this article) I was sure it was my youngest but she vehemently denied it. On to the next “do you know what happened?” “No mom!” I was sure someone was giving me the run around….little did I know it was my husband’s doing!

Those working in media walk a fine line on truth far too often. It’s the proverbial “half glass” syndrome – is it half full or half empty? Depends on your view and often on what and how questions are presented during the interview.

My view of the truth, in all of its glory, is it’s a tool to live by: a moral compass between right and wrong. If you have to lie about it you were probably doing something wrong to begin with. I have little tolerance for someone I perceive as lying. It’s insulting my intelligence.

Part of this view was etched in my brain during my upbringing but it was hammered home while in Rotary. Rotarians have what they call the Four Way Test which can be applied to any scenario. Apply the four questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Does it build goodwill and better friendships? Is it beneficial to all concerned? What a great easy-to-use tool for everyday life! It can be applied to any situation and lead to positive results.

Truths do change for each of us over time. That’s why I like the first sentence of my friend’s book. So, to keep it in context and give you something to think about, here’s the entire first paragraph of Will Dresser’s book “Sacrament of Fear”:

“Truth never happens in real time. Events happen, sources are cited, authorities offer up explanations. But ‘truth’ requires time. Time to shed illusions. Time to fend off lies. Time to evolve. And in the end, after all have had their say, ‘truth’ will have the last word and continue to light our way.”

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