Degrees of Truth, Grasping For Reality,
and Why That Concept Still Matters
I love this fight scene from Monty Python & the Holy Grail.
The fictional Black Knight valiantly denies King Arthur from crossing his bridge and loses all of his limbs in the process.
“Tis but a scratch!” – Black Knight
“A scratch? your arm’s off!” – King Arthur.
“No, it isn’t!” – Black Knight,
“Well, what’s that then?” – King Arthur
(Black Knight looks down at his detached arm and pauses)
“I’ve had worse.”
As the battle ensues, the Black Knight is reduced to a trash-talking torso
hollering “I’m invincible” and “Come back here. I’ll bite your legs off!”
After all, he’s a Black Knight, and everyone knows that Black Knights are totally invincible.
“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.- Oscar Wilde
Take away: Coming to terms with the truth of the situation can sometimes be a painful experience.
It’s said that John Cleese wrote this scene because he hated the saying, “You never really lose until you give up.”
The deadly assault on the Capitol by a bizarre coalition of self-proclaimed
neo-Nazis, white supremacists, camouflaged preppers, Christians, and Viking
wannabe’s, has got to be one of the great head-scratchers of our time.
If you’re anything like me. me you’re wondering, “why are things so haywire?” and “where’s the truth in this situation?”
Everyone wants to believe they’re thinking independently, understanding how things work and why things are happening.
But everyone has only seen the world through the narrow lens of their own experiences and their social network.
There’s a strong force in our human nature that propels us toward interpreting reality in a self-serving and unrealistic way.
There’s an equally strong force that pulls us to conformity.
Demagogues have always understood and exploited this human flaw.
Throw in a compelling storyline that may or may not be true, and suddenly
typically smart people are embracing and defending ideas that range from
goofy to disastrous.
It shows up all over the place.
The same story, again and again.
The best leaders can grasp the reality of situations and take appropriate action for themselves and others. The best leaders also resist self-serving behaviors and mindless conformity.
I really admire that.
To make sure I’m still on track, I revisited my assumptions and framework on the various truth types and how we’re governed by them.
“Gravity’s not just a good idea; it’s the law.” Seth Godin
This is one of those absolute, axiomatic truths that just “is.” It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not.
Gravity is the truth that keeps you from spinning off into outer space. You can ignore it, but there’ll be a price to pay.
You can pretend it isn’t true. That also comes at a steep cost.
The same goes for the seasons of the year, death, and taxes.
Takeaway: The same way gravity keeps you grounded, there’s always an
absolute truth that overrides everything else in any given situation.
(Also referred to as personal or experiential truth)
We all have a worldview, whether we know it or not. It’s the set of our beliefs and assumptions that serve as our personal operating system.
Most kinds of truth we experience are about the past and the present. These are the easiest to see and confirm, but there are also truths about cause and effect. I.e., stove element- hot! Ice cream – yummy! Etc.
“The only source of knowledge is experience.” Albert Einstein
We all experience things at our own pace and time. Personal experience truth is the truth that’s mostly determined by you.
How you react and respond can only be seen and reported by you.
It’s how most of us interact with truth most of the time.
As we live out a truth based on experience either through direct or indirect participation
“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.” Rita Mae Brown
Take-away: Your worldview is essential, but it can also change as you learn,
change and grow through experience.
Beyond the types mentioned above, there are many perspectives on veracity that fall along a continuum of sorts.
In the strictest sense, truth is provable, objective, and not “opinion.”
A “half-truth” is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The information might be partly accurate but intended to evade, misdirect or lay blame.
“Truthiness,” coined by Stephen Colbert, is a belief or assertion that a particular
statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or
individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or
Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate
duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions.
Outright BS – (Not the Bachelor of Science ) Well, that’s self-explanatory.
Take away – The more you know yourself and align yourself with facts and reality, the better off you are.
Centuries ago, a famous religious leader declared “the truth shall set you free!”.
This phrase’s original context and intent refer to spiritual freedom from the bondage of our mortal sins.
“The truth shall set you free” has become part of our common English lexicon.
It is one of those axiomatic truths that has a liberating effect
This works in business, in relationships, and yes, even in politics.
Until next time,