Truth

I have never considered myself to be a particularly judgmental person but have been judged myself. I have never believed that the opinions other people offer me are necessarily the truth, they may be, but I have found it a far better option to make up my own mind about things.

I have been guilty of passing judgment, and I have even been guilty of offering a personal opinion about other people and their behaviour at times, but one thing I have learnt over the past few years is that even my opinion is only one possible version of the truth. That is the real key to truth. Personal experience, past behaviour, environment and genes all come together in a mix that means no two people ever experience the same thing in exactly the same way.

On my mothers birthday a few weeks back, my sisters their kids and mine sat around the kitchen table talking about our memories of childhood. My sister mentioned a few things that happened that I have absolutely no memory of. In fact if I was asked if things happened the way in which she believed they did I would have to say she was lying. Reality is that as kids our view of the world in which we live is not fully formed. Things said, or behaviour observed occurs in a far different context to the way we view things in the adult world. I know now that for my sister her truth is just as valid as mine for those events.

Therefore the opinions people hold of others are formed in ways which are coloured by their own perceptions and realities which may be a truth, but not necessarily the only truth.

When Mark Twain said “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything” he was only half right because the problem is your memories are only your own very individual truth. So there are many roads to truth and we really need to remember that when we listen to the gossip of others who offer opinion cloaked as truth.

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23 Comments

  1. WalksFarWoman said,

    September 4, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    This so reminded me of discussions between parents and children. I’d never thought of it in this way, that our different developments altered our view of the same point. The other thing is the weight of importance. Something which we may have found trivial might have meant a lot to the other person. We may have forgotten it while for them it’s remained a thorny issue. Oh heck Loz, we can but do our best and hope if we fail we can forgive one another and put it to rest.

  2. Beth said,

    September 4, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Loz; I so agree with your post – I would even go one step further and say that we all see things differently depending on the amount of stress we are under at the time. I remember some things one way when I am under stress, and a totally different perception of the situation when I am calm. Hard to keep track of all those truths…

  3. September 4, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Profoundly true post, Loz! I’ve had the same experience with my sisters. Just two and three years separate us in age, yet are memories are so different at times that one wonders if we are talking about being raised in the same family. My little sister especially seems to recall very few of the intense moments my older sister and I do. My older sister’s view of “truth” is very definitely colored by her emotional stability, she can “remember” events that absolutely did not happen! I guess that’a another factor in whose truth we are talking about. You are right – truth is very subjective!

  4. Jeff said,

    September 4, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    I hear what you are saying and agree with you in principle. My only reservation is the loose interpretation of the word “truth”. There is only one truth. Everything else is perception:FACT: The boy through a stone and killed the robin. One person saw the bird kill a crow. Yet another, saw him use a slingshot.Both of these witnesses BELIEVE their perceptions. YET, there is only one truth: the boy killed a robin by throwing a stone and striking it a fatal blow.

  5. September 4, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Truth hurts – own it and move forward. Hindsight is wonderful! Something I have tried to use in my daily life. We all have memories based on where we, our individual selves, are at that time in life. We have to look at the outside influences that affected our experience and acknowledge that there were also aspects affecting that someone else sharing the same experience. Our memories differ because of that.Isn’t this why we are all individuals. Why we all walk different life paths. Why we have the ability to use hindsight and choice in our daily life.Great Post Loz!

  6. Gypsy said,

    September 4, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    You are so right Loz. We do all have a different perception of the same event and that perception and our recollection of it is OUR TRUTH. Even a simple conversation can be interpreted differently depending on the person listening. They put their own spin on things because they are not only listening to the words but bringing their own beliefs and experiences into it as well. Those beliefs colour what they are hearing therefore they are not really “hearing” what the speaker is saying. Does that make sense? It sounded right in my head? I might not be explaining myself properly but I totally “get” what you’re saying. My truth might not necessarily be your truth but neither of us are lying 🙂

  7. September 4, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    “Therefore the opinions people hold of others are formed in ways which are coloured by their own perceptions and realities which may be a truth, but not necessarily the only truth.”Now, THAT is a lot to think about my friend.

  8. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:04 am

    wfw – the weight of importance is something I have dealt with a lot over the past few years. Things that I remember from childhood are simply that my memories, not necessarily what happened.

  9. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Beth – you are so right. Stress can heighten some experiences and numb others. There is a protective mechanism in our brain that often filters out the bad things.

  10. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Absolutely Josie. But we can sometimes judge people on things that may or may not have happened in exactly the way we remember them happening.

  11. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Jeff – but whose perception is truth.My sister remembers getting the strap from my mother for something I did. Neither my mother nor I have any memory of that happening. Of course I wasn’t the one who had the stinging leg so maybe it just wasn’t important enough for me to remember. The issue here is what is the “fact” and if we can’t determine that then is either truth actually wrong?

  12. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Lady Penelope – yes there are choices but sometimes the framework in which we live does not allow us to see them. May I point you to a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called “The Four Agreements” which explains this far more eloquently than I. I first talked about it in this post not long after I started this blog -http://midlife-journey.blogspot.com/2007/04/agreements.html

  13. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Gypsy – it makes a lot of sense and is the reason why we say some people hear but others truly listen.

  14. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Mel – I am glad I’ve got you thinking 🙂

  15. paisley said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:23 am

    exactly… just recently i posted on a similar subject,, as it has been clear in my mind as well… i think we are both coming along in all of this quite nicely loz… and i love dropping in to find out the latest…

  16. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 1:27 am

    As I do to your blogs dear Paisley 🙂

  17. Dorothy said,

    September 5, 2007 at 5:06 am

    Loz; The other day, my daughter reminded me of some personal things I had shared with her. They were all true, however, I wished I hadn’t said them… She remembers, I wish she didn’t… I couldn’t say a word except, I listened and thought wow, they tell me the truth will set you free…in this case not so…Have fun with this one…its true.Dorothy from grammologyhttp://grammology.com

  18. Loz said,

    September 5, 2007 at 5:42 am

    Dorothy – it was George Herbert who said “Follow not truth too near the heels, lest it dash out thy teeth.”I wrote a post asking whether there was such a thing as a virtous lie on my other blog Sunrays and Saturdays here – http://manta57.blogspot.com/2007/04/is-there-such-thing-as-virtuous-lie.htmlSo I think there is an argument for telling falsehoods at times because the truth can hurt.

  19. Seiche said,

    September 5, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    I’m a little late in joining the discussion, but I have been thinking about this post since you threw it out there. I have to agree with wfw; it all comes down to the amount of importance one places on things. Hindsight is most definitely NOT 20/20. And I want to thank you for writing about things like this. I’ve been somewhat lax in commenting lately on the blogs I check everyday, but this post practically demanded it.

  20. Loz said,

    September 6, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Seiche – thanks for coming back. Don’t worry too much about the lack of commenting, I’ve been a bit the same lately. Not out of lack of interest, more lack of time.

  21. Charlotte said,

    September 6, 2007 at 4:53 am

    Yes, I often joke that if five writers all experienced the same thing, they would all write completely different accounts of it. And, let me tell you, it is WAY worse with family. So many family members seem intent on reinventing history. Of course, my memories are always the correct ones.

  22. Jeff said,

    September 7, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    I don’t think there is any way of knowing whose perception is the closest to the truth. I don’t think ANYONE’s perception is spot on truth. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that there is one absolute truth – even if no one can fully know it.

  23. Ms. Q said,

    September 10, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Interesting! I’m currently reading a book, “Why We Believe What We Believe” by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman. The inside cover asks, “Why do you believe the things you believe? Do you remember event differently from how they really happened? How do morals evolve?”It’s fascinating. It covers how our emotions affect what we remember. So you’re right, there is no “one truth.”Here’s something I just read this morning that I’m still wrapping my mind around:”I suspect that if a person could maintain a more open-minded state, the range of interpretations concerning spiritual experiences might increase. In many eastern traditions, one will find spiritual teachers who believe that all perceptions of the world are essentially cognitive interpretations. If practitioners could meditate to suspend the brain’s propensity to make interpretations, they might glimpse a truer reality. But they wouldn’t be able to put it into words, because language is a highly interpretive process.”


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