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Truth as we know it to be

Fri, Sep 21st, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Truth might be defined as an accepted fact or reality. And yet, as we have seen all too often there are varying interpretations of the truth. Truth comes in different forms. There is my truth, your truth and the "real" truth. Some examples of acceptable truths are principles of physics and mathematics, such as Archimedes principle, the formula defining a right triangle, or the concept of force equals mass times acceleration. There is the acceptable truth that if one places their hand in a flame for a defined period of time they will get burned. It would probably be difficult to find anyone who would disagree that these are real truths.

Then there are what one might call modifications of the real truth. This modification then becomes my truth or your truth, but maybe not the real truth. An example would be the statement that the former leader of Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction, and, these weapons posed a grave threat to our country and the world. This statement, presented as fact, and therefore as someone's truth, was as we know, ultimately proved to be not a truth. Now, this supposed truth was said by the truth sayers to be based on hard fact. This was, however, contrary to other information available at the time that questioned the veracity of the weapons of mass destruction statement. So, who was telling the real truth?

Another example of truth modification and an example of my truth becoming your truth was presented by Vice President Cheney when he repeatedly claimed that the attacks of 9/11 were directly linked to Iraq. However, even as the Vice President was making this claim of truth there were hard, solid data to show that this was not the real truth. His statement, presented as fact was repeated so often and with such force that at one point 60% of those Americans who were asked if they believed there was a link between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks said there was. So, one person's truth becomes the truth of another, even in the face of contrary facts.

At times it is difficult to know what the real truth is. Many of us have come to accept that often we are not being told the truth, or all of the truth, or even some of the truth. We have come to accept that people hedge when presenting information they wish to be taken as true. We do this ourselves. We don't like to share bad news; we don't like to make others feel uncomfortable when presenting information they might not like. We keep hidden facts that might cause another person to think less of us. And, at times we accept things to be true because we wish them to be so, even when presented with opposing information. It has been said that the truth often lies in the middle. In some cases deciding what is and is not to be our truth can be difficult.

In other situations the truth is evident and there is no doubt as to the real truth.

We know the devastation many of our friends and neighbors have suffered in the wake of the rains and flood. We know of home and business damage; we know of lives damaged; we know the loss of community infrastructure. We also know to be true the resolve and spirit of our community to overcome these losses. We know that the signs in Rushford proclaiming to "Never, Ever Give Up" are speaking the common truth. We know that the work and efforts of many people, friends and neighbors, volunteers from around the country, firefighters, police, EMT's, National Guard troops, city officials, and state legislators was and is our truth. It is our common truth that the path to normalcy for Rushford and the surrounding communities will be long and at times difficult. We know it will take time, effort, money and resolve. We also know that our community will survive and grow. This is our truth and we know it to be so.

Alan Lipowitz lives in Peterson.

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