In the midst of this age of information overload is it any surprise that deep thinking people give up on the idea of discernable truth?
Competive and contradictory claims assail us from all angles. Advocates on all sides are seemingly equally convinced that they see more clearly than those who of a different perspective.
We would be persuaded, they say, if we just opened our minds, examined the facts fairly and were honest with ourselves. But, despite their confidence, to me often all sides seem to lack a clear perspective and bring a bias that is only obvious to those on the other side.
Hypocrisy in Action
How is it the same people who want to string up leaders as war criminals are the same who demand only compassion and understanding for a woman who aborts a life because pregnancy is inconvenient?
How is it that gun owners and passionate pro-lifers are some of the same saying that we should judge all Syrian refugees as a potential terrorist and protest to keep them out rather than value them as individuals as they demand for themselves?
Everyone is convinced in their own minds. Everyone believes that they think rationally and most can give reasons for what they believe. But somehow everyone, including some very smart people on both sides, cannot agree on everything and oftentimes we vehemently disagree.
Even those who claim the same religious texts as their guidebook to life arrive at vastly different conclusions about what it says—often with perspective each claiming they are authentic and the others are the imposters. Both come with carefully crafted theologies and neither side shaken from the moorings of base assumptions that lurk somewhere outside the realm of their conscious thought.
Muslims see terrorism as the result of western intervention. They can point to the fact that terrorist organizations like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were nurtured to life or a direct consequence of foreign policy decisions of the United States of America. Many Americans, by contrast, see radicalization as a genetic flaw of Islamic faith and downplay their own responsibility.
We tend to see only the noble intentions of those who share our own particular ideological alignment. The same people who demand absolute accountability for others are often the most creative at manipulating the evidence in order to absolve themselves of even shared guilt.
Meanwhile, with a smug satisfaction (that I cannot know is genuine or facetious) I sit here thinking I know something and maybe I do?
Could it be that none of us can claim to have a complete picture of the truth and that all of us share some in creating this flawed reality?
I know it is more comfortable to assume our perspective is infallible and the we ourselves have no major fault. It is easy to outsource blame for the problems of the world, wash our own hands of responsibility, and pretend it is moral to distance ourselves sanctimoniously. However, isn’t that exactly what is wrong with the other side?
I say we all resolve all the more to clean our own side of the street. Lead the world by making no excuses and being an example. If you wish for people to be open to your own perspective try to see theirs. If you do not wish to be judged wholesale by the actions of a few bad actors then do not judge others that way.
Truth in Action
I believe there is truth to be found, but it is not something we profess so much as what we practice. The truth is the love that we live and not a proposition that is only possible when others do our bidding. Truth is our walk in consistent love not our words in hypocritical judgment.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
Do we give up on describing truth? No. I believe that there is some value in trying to put truth into words and arguing for what we believe is right and good. However, we must always speak in humility and be as brutal to ourselves as we are to those who see things differently.