The WHOLE Truth?

I heard someone on the radio yesterday saying “The BBC news tells the truth, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth” and it got me thinking. Is it possible to tell the whole truth? Surely we can only tell our truth, in which we offer what we believe without any deliberate distortions?


• noun (pl.
truths /trooths, troo&ulth;z/) 1 the quality or state of being
true. 2 (also the truth) that which is true as opposed to false. 3 a fact or belief that is accepted as true. — ORIGIN Old English.


• adjective (truer, truest) 1 in accordance with fact or reality. 2 rightly or strictly so called; genuine: true love.
3 real or actual. 4 accurate and exact. 5 (of a note) exactly in tune.
6 correctly positioned or aligned; upright or level. 7 loyal or faithful. 8 (true to) accurately conforming to (a standard or expectation).

• verb (trues, trued, truing or trueing) bring into the exact shape or position required. — ORIGIN Old English, steadfast, loyal;

The thing is, reality is a variable commodity, and it is filtered through a series of beliefs. “He was trying to kill me” really means “I believe he was trying to kill me“, we can not know anyone else’s intentions. We just project our best guess onto them according to what we would do in this situation. Now for the most part, the difference is small; this is a valid working hypothesis and it gets us through our lives okay. The problem comes when it is something important we are dealing with and particularly when a relationship is involved.

We assume that we can understand or infer their motivation. We seldom ask, and even if we do we don’t always believe them. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting everyone will give you an honest answer, rather I am saying you are not in their heads or their hearts and you truly don’t know what is driving them.

Life would be a little more precarious if we stopped pretending that there was a single truth, an American truth as opposed to, say, an Iraqi one, but once we got over the initial instability I suspect we would be far less wrong-footed. Perhaps the idea there is one truth comes from the same place as our belief that we are the centre of the Universe, as opposed to merely the centre of our own universe!

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” Albert Einsein


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