Over the years I have become skeptical about what is the truth.

Because, in an expansive sea of information about any one subject and, in the wake of its rapid spread, a prevailing “truth” arises.

So, what is the “truth”? To answer this question, I must be careful not to be led by persuasion or even my own biases. Someone who is mistaken, otherwise willfully untruthful, or says a falsehood with conviction ,can be persuasive nonetheless. Still, perception of the truth does not change the truth. Consequently, when that person has power, influence, authority, and a large following, it may be difficult to discern what is “the” truth and what, by design, prevails as the “truth”.

I am sure many of you find yourselves adrift in this sea where the north star appears to be hidden behind dark clouds, clouds saturated with disinformation.

To find the truth, I must navigate the same sea of information, follow, and rely on my own compass. To be sure I am headed toward the north star, I do a quick fact check about the information and those who are talking about it.

As usual there are many, many different sources and many different proponents. So, to further ease my mind and quiet any doubts, I reference and cross-reference sources. Doing this makes me more confident about what to believe and who to trust.

 Of course, I have my own biases and usually believe as true, the truth as spoken by people who I have trusted in the past. Still, I cannot help but imagine that I am not the only one uneasy about what is true and who to trust, especially during these times.

Here I include people, scholars, who face the same challenge. They do the research, write, and speak about their findings. Yet, other scholars have a different truth about the same subjects. They have their own version and or perspective and, like you and me, they also have their own biases. So, what to believe and who to trust when there seems to be more than one “truth”?

If there are indeed two sides to any story, someone must concede to being wrong. But the ego or, what seems to be the case, other interests, get in the way and there is a stale mate. Obstinate in their way, both scholars retreat to their respective corners.

Conveniently, people in power can call upon or cite the scholar and his or her version of the “truth” to make his or her case to the people. This does not mean they have chosen wisely. It could simply be a matter of design and not necessarily a search for “the” truth.

Now, between power players, it becomes a contest with seemingly, little or no rules. It is about seeing who is more persuasive in spreading their adopted version of the truth.

Let the disinformation salvos fly!

The spread becomes easy simply because many good people are not inclined to do even the basic research, much less lend serious thought about what they believe and who they trust. They are busy and sometimes overwhelmed with their daily lives. It is easier to rely on those who “do” the research. The persuaders know and rely on this behavior and, unwittingly or not, the spread of disinformation only serves to divide people.

Media salvos laced with disinformation intended to demean one side or the other is the delivery mechanism of choice. Reason dies on the battlefield of ideas and victory belongs to the passionate, and not necessarily to the truth tellers.

 “Words are like keys. We use them alone, in combination or sequence to open minds so as to capture the imagination of those we try to persuade. Choose your words wisely. Speak the truth”. W.G.

When two people believe they are right and the other is wrong, who breaks the stale mate? Of course, I do, either by accepting at face value what is being proffered or doing my own research and then applying, what I believe is most important: common sense and fairness.

Enough good people will simply be moved by emotion and familiarity. The population of stale maters grows exponentially and now you have two armies and no arbiters.

Like you, I am a soldier on the battlefield. But I do my own research and listen to those who have usually been reliable. However, and with an open mind, I also consider the opposing view (the prevailing truth). Then I apply the simple test of common sense and fairness and if it lies on the other side, there I stand in service as an arbiter.

The truth has no race, no gender, no creed and, most importantly, no one owner.  It belongs to us all. It belongs to humanity.

Still there remains two powerful and opposing belief about “the” truth, and there seems to be no reconciliation. But how could there be between walls and bridges? There needs to be more cross overs to tip the balance toward the truth. That is what bridges are for.

When persuaded to ignore the truth or to believe that winning at all cost means that the truth does not matter, this mindset is what creates the most powerful and perfect bomb there could ever be; a human made bomb.

Naturally, bombs do what bombs do, they blow up things and people and, in this climate and during these times and, in the United States of America, they could also blow up minds and institutions.

 Fortunately, this bomb can be diffused by people of conscience doing a basic search for the truth, putting biases aside and applying the simple test of common sense and fairness for the good of humanity; for love, dignity and respect for each other. Yes. We are all in this together.

Be honest with yourself when faced with having to cross a bridge to get to the truth. Do so with the confidence that it would make the world better place to live in. If we allow walls of separations to stand, we all will perish in our own graveyards.

Photo by Ilenia F. on Unsplash

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