One of the troubles we're running into more and more in our world is this idea of truth and what it really means. We've lost truth among us, and I'm not sure how, at this point, we get it back.
We have an entire generation of persons who have been raised to believe that truth is whatever feels right to them. They can come face-to-face with the facts in any given situation, facts that can be hard to deny, and still stand defiantly and declare they are waiting on truth. Truth is intimately personal. This group of persons is never satisfied until the world lines up perfectly with what they feel. (So, this group of persons is never satisfied.)
On the other side of the equation, we have persons who believe in truth as purely a set of facts. The truth is whatever can be quantified; it must not be qualified. They spend their lives looking at data and information and evidence and forget the very human impact that this data, information, and evidence has. Truth is removed from the personal entirely and is purely universal. This group of persons is never satisfied until the world stops arguing the facts. (So, this group of persons is never satisfied.)
We're seeing this conflict of truth raging on our streets right now. It is closely tied with other ideas, like justice, for example. We have one group in Ferguson, Missouri waiting on truth because the lack of an indictment feels like a farce. We have another group in Ferguson, Missouri pointing to the facts presented to the grand jury and declaring the matter closed. The same is happening in Cleveland. And New York City. And not just with police action. It's invading issues of sexuality and homosexuality, Black and white, rich and poor, religious and atheist, Republican and Democrat, American and immigrant. You name it. Our battles are, primarily, battles over this thing called truth - which is either intimately personal or universally impersonal, if you listen to the masses on either side.
And I have to say that in the course of my life, I have been in both "truth" camps. I have been a rigid rule-follower, a person who only looks at the facts and the data and the evidence. I have been the person who says, "Clearly, truth must be this because this is where all the information points." And I have failed to recognize the very human impact of such a statement. On the other hand, there are times when I have been one of those persons who will declare that the truth must be somewhere beyond the facts because in my heart, this doesn't feel real. This doesn't feel right. Whatever the issue is, it feels like it deserves more than the facts can ever give it. And I have fought passionately in the face of the evidence to the contrary. I think these are both traps that are all too easy to fall into.
We have truly lost truth among us.
The truth about truth is that it is not intimately personal and whatever must be true for you to feel comfortable in your world. And it's not completely impersonal, some universal concept that hangs over the world like an umbrella. The truth about truth is that...it is both. It is this thing that is universally real but so intimately personal that you can't help but think it's meant just for you. It is information with intimacy. It is meaningfulness with evidence. Truth cannot be separated into one or the other; it is necessarily both.
As it should be. It's impossible to live in community if the world is ruled by emotion, by what a man feels must be the case. Because no two men feel exactly the same. The world could never be anything if it must be everything. Neither can we live together if all we have is fact, if all we have is information. There's no meaning in that. There's nothing deeper to draw us together. In a world of fact, life is not a story we're telling; it's a game in which we are merely the tokens.
Even those of us who cannot articulate such an idea know this to be true. We know it because there have been times in our lives when we have been overwhelmed by the truth, by the real truth, by this thing that is both fact and fulfilling, that is direct and deep, that is verifiable and validating, that is universally real and intimately personal. There have been times where we've come to know, to truly know, what truth is and we've realized what that word really means.
I don't know how all this plays out on our streets. I don't know how we bring our world back to a place like this, a place where there is room for real truth among us. I don't know how you get a man who feels this can't be right to look at the facts, and I don't know how you get a man who knows the facts to look beyond them into the eyes of the wounded. I wish I did. I wish I could smear my hand over our blacks and whites and blur them into shades of grey where we can see both what is real and what that really means with the same eyes. I wish I knew how to make us less angry at one another and more broken for each other. But I don't.
All I know is that truth is out there. And it's also in here. And it's everywhere. And it's somewhere. And we've lost truth - real truth - among us. And I'm not sure how, at this point, we get it back.