Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is truth?

I used a random blog entry generator today, and it gave me the topic, “What is truth?”

They sure know how to throw the puffballs at you.

When I was a kid, I always knew what truth was. It was all around me. It was the only worldview I’d been exposed to. Truth was everything I’d been told. It was not just the truth, it was the Truth with a capital T.

I knew that I was the smartest person who ever lived and that I would be President someday, and, for that reason, everybody else was jealous of me and hated me.

I knew that nobody in the history of the world ever worked harder than my parents, and for that reason, everybody else was trying to take advantage of them.

I knew that I was white, male, American, Protestant, and of northern European descent, and, therefore, better than anybody who wasn’t all of those things.

I knew that my family was perfect.

I knew that, if I got a bad grade, it was because the teacher wasn’t smart enough to appreciate my genius.

I knew that God was this thing up in the sky that I couldn’t see, but He would make sure that everything turned out for the best and that nothing bad would ever happen to me.

Life was good. Life was Truth.

Then a funny thing happened. I found out that the Truth wasn’t the truth after all.

It started with books. There were always lots of books around, and nobody minded me reading them. It was proof of how smart I was, after all. But then I started to actually remember what was in those books, and it wasn’t long before they began to contradict the Truth.

Of course, when there was a conflict, I was always told in no uncertain terms that the Truth prevailed. The people who write those books don’t know what the real world is like! They don’t know what it’s like to work for a living!

So I held out as long as I could as a defender of the Truth. Of course, it helped that I went to school with kids who had heard some variation on the Truth in their own homes. And it also didn’t hurt that I went to a college where diversity meant your roommate was Catholic. So I could laugh off any challenges to the Truth.

I grew up and entered the real world—which, I was always told, would just reinforce the Truth—and found that very little of the Truth was true at all.

I found that not everything turns out for the best, the good guy doesn’t always win—and that there are times when the good guy isn’t me.

I found that most of my problems are my own damn fault and not part of some grand conspiracy against smart people.

I found that there are many forms of intelligence that can’t be measured by an IQ test.

I found that no ethnicity, gender, nationality, belief system or surname has a monopoly on intelligence, hard work or goodness.

I found that most people are too wrapped up in their own problems to mess with you.

I found that everybody has issues, and most people have subscriptions.

I found that most people are doing the best they can.

And truth? I’m not sure what it is anymore, but I can live with that. I have to.