Over a period of time I’ve had an on-line and offhanded talk with some colleagues. The talk have been a bit rambling but have touched on matters of interpretation of truth and how the social and cultural belongings of a person or group of people colours that interpretation.
I think it can fairly well be said that I don’t think there are any specific eternal truths to be found, anywhere. The idea of Truth with a capital T have nevertheless been, and still is, an idea both strong and potent in the minds of humankind. The impact it have had on our history is undeniably big.
The list of thinkers that have elaborated on the concept is as long as history is old. What is it that makes truth such a tasty, even addictive, concept for some people? And what makes a lie?
And, as one of my colleagues so aptly stated – what is the difference between an interpretation that unbeknownst to the interpreter differs from the original, and conscious misinterpretation? He raised this topic while thinking of the US Bill of Rights, but it’s an interesting issue in a wider perspective as well, mainly because it relates to the way we look at a wide variety of topics. Like, we hail the the ancient Greeks for their giving us the concept of democracy, and a lot of people seems to think what they meant with it was just what we mean. Is it? In some countries, certainly, because it excludes all women, and all men that aren’t above a certain income level. Then, democracy means that only rich males are allowed to participate in the decision-making.
To me, of course, this is not democracy. To me the word implies that power is given to the people. (This means there exist no democratic countries, as of today). I, then, is a conscious misinterpreter of the concept ‘democracy’, as I widen it to include all people. But it could be argued that the Greeks thought it included all people too, they just didn’t think women or the less well situated to be ‘people’.
This is not an academic discussion. Throughout the history people with the power to assert their (skewed) interpretation of a ruling or guiding document to be true have used this to their personal benefit, often to justify organised harassment and torture of groups of people. Going back to the US Bill of Rights mentioned earlier it’s now certain that the US as a nation views some people as more equal than others, whatever it says in that document. And as it at the time is was written did NOT include people not classified as ‘people’ it could be argued that this is in line with the original idea. Even if the idea originated in 1776, and even if it could be argued that rather a lot of water have flowed beneath the bridge since.
This is just one example. There are examples spread throughout the world. That I happened upon this one was because my colleague mentioned it – a coincidence, not a judgement.
So, maybe it’s not the concept of truth that should interest us, but how we treat each other; how we perceive and judge each other.
So, no, there’s no truth to be found. Not out there, not in here. Mainly because truth is not the important thing – being true is.
The statement is a contradiction, in itself, but I stand by it.