I had two different conversations this week where the issue of the truth came into question. The first was about the news and struggling to fine news without bias for one side or the other. In the other conversation, I was talking about the show The Affair which inspired a blog post a few years ago, since it showed how different two people’s perspectives can be on the same situation. Both conversations ended with the same final thought: How do we decipher the truth when the two versions being presented widely differ?
As a former political science student, I’ve always been fascinated by politics, especially international politics. I obviously have my own bias due to my own beliefs and values, so I often find myself looking at sources of news or discussion that don’t share my political leanings. I think that it’s important to try to understand the point of view of those who don’t see the world in the same way you do. It can be easy to dismiss those who don’t agree with us, but I find it interesting and want to understand why.
The challenge in trying to understand a perspective that isn’t your own is that you have to be open to challenging your own beliefs about what you think is fact. I can honestly say that the Internet is a blessing and a curse when it comes to this stuff! You could lose hours researching the claims on complete strangers in the pursuit of whether there’s a possibility that what they have stated is true.
While I continue my journey down the rabbit hole in the political realm, it’s made me think of interactions in my life that have no ties to politics. I have been in situations where I address something that I recall occurring in the past and been told that those things never happened. I used to label people who do this as revisionists, since it seemed to me that they had recreated a convenient history that left them without any personal responsibility.
The two conversations I refer to at the start of this serve as a reminder that there are always at least 3 sides to every story; yours, mine and the truth. They allowed me to realize that instead of accusing these people in my life as revisionists, I could accept the fact that their reality of what happened in the past isn’t the same as mine and leave it at that. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to convince someone that something happened a certain way, but it can be quite the exercise in futility and frustration.
If we truly want to uncover the truth, then we have to come to terms with the fact that the perspective we have on any specific thing may not be someone else’s truth. We have to keep an open mind and be willing to hear someone else’s point of view. Instead of trying to get them to see things the same way we do, we have to allow them to keep their truth. It’s important to find a way to disagree with one another without being disrespectful.
I feel like I need to say that this doesn’t mean I’m okay with people who try to gaslight you. I don’t think it’s ever okay for someone to physically, verbally or emotionally bully or abuse someone and then tell you that it never happened or that you’ve made it up. They might be unwilling to see or respect your perspective but that doesn’t prevent you from defending your truth.