The Unyielding Truth

The truth isn’t subjective. It’s indisputable. Belief in it is irrelevant to its accuracy. It constantly falls victim to prejudice, assumptions, and past experience. It is colored by emotion and warped by perspective. People often confuse these distorted perceptions with the truth.

A distinction should be made between the truth and “personal truth”: the truth is static, unaffected by emotion or expectations, and cannot be contested, while a “personal truth” is only a belief and can be dynamic. A reader may find wisdom in a piece that the author didn’t see — and neither is wrong. To each, the meaning is self-evident. These are “personal truths,” but they are too often confused with the truth.

“The average American… does not think that crime is down,” Newt Gingrich told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on July 22nd.

“But we are safer, and it is down,” Camerota interjected.

“No, that’s your view-”

“It’s a fact.”

“But what I said is also a fact,” Gingrich insisted. “The current view is that liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right, but it’s not where the human beings are.”

Gingrich’s mistake is in conflating personal beliefs with the truth. If the truth were subjective, Gingrich would have been correct. But facts aren’t altered by feelings or perception. Whatever it is taken to support, its real meaning remains unchanged. No matter how strongly someone believes in something, it still may not be the truth.

The truth exists whether it is known or not. In a criminal trial, the suspect’s testimony cannot contain purely truth, regardless of whether he believes he is telling it. His narrative is skewed by his instinct for self-preservation. Likewise, the policeman’s testimony won’t encompass only truth. His bias is also clear. The narrative constructed during a trial, in spite of any painstaking measures that are taken by the attorneys to accurately recreate events, isn’t going to duplicate exactly what happened; the truth is beyond human replication. However, though humans are unable to be cognizant of the truth in its purest, unadulterated form, the truth still exists. It is simply unknowable.