Stories. Our world loves them. And so do we!
As if it isn’t enough that key events take place in our world, the real stories of interest to us are the stories about the events, not the raw data within the events themselves, but snippets of the events that support the sensational stories that engage us most in our senses.
Now there are other stories within events, too, and these don’t always meet with our implicit agreement. We don’t like some stories. In fact, some stories destroy our harmonious inner world, because they run counter to our beliefs. These stories focus on ‘alternative facts.’ And there are ‘alternative facts’ in every event. These are the facts that compete in opposition to the sides we choose to take.
We, a partial people, now have the technology to express our views on the global stage, and we won’t be held to account, not even, if we’re believers, by God. We interpret events and make our own analysis. It’s our right in our privileged age.
Here is a fact for you. Facts are facts, and facts are impartial. This is why there are ‘alternative facts’, because no factual account of anything plays directly into biased hands. There are ‘alternative facts’ because there are always facts on both (and all) sides of any argument.
Here is another fact. We exaggerate the facts that work in our favour, and we minimise the facts we don’t like. We support our biases, obviously, and, unless we’re carefully aware, we say by our actions, “to hell with the truth,” all the while lying to ourselves, in elevating one truth over another, not seeing that the truth is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If we valued the whole truth and nothing but the truth we would be bored and unstimulated in this life, because there are so few stories that are entirely factual. There is spin everywhere today.
Both sides of the political divide do one and the same thing. It happens in marital conflict and in marriage counselling, in workplace and industrial disputes, between parents and their children. Every arena of life involves alternative facts.
So, Kellyanne Conway was right. There are alternative facts. How reprehensible that she and the current U.S. Administration are using alternative facts. But, wait. Everyone’s been using alternative facts, including past administrations, other world leaders, and yes, you and I.
What can we do about this? Start playing life by the rule of integrity. That is, to learn to listen more, speak less, judge less, and wait on the truth more.
One day we will be held to proper account, whether we held to truth or fished for lies.
Steve Wickham holds Degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counselling.
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