Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The truth

By Carl

The mystery of life is understanding what truth is, and when it matters.

Think about it: what is truth? Truth can be defined as the presentation of things that are factual, but in the presentation, fact goes away.

Spin, in other words. If I take a photograph of a man sitting on a bench, factually, the man is sitting on the bench, but what is the truth of the picture?

After all, he could be Aqualung, spitting out pieces of his broken luck. He could be an undercover cop, waiting for a mugger. He could be a father or grandfather, watching his child. He could be contemplating suicide.

What is missing is context. Truth, you see, is context. If the photograph tells a story, then you can begin to understand the truth of the picture, but it goes even deeper than that.

Even telling a story with a photograph, we can see that we are getting the photographer's truth, and that's not necessarily the truth you need. You need your truth.

A photograph represents a split second in time from the photographer's perspective and incorporates his entire life's experience in that moment. He is revealing to you his truth, but not yours. You may agree with his truth, or accept it, but that is only half the story you need. You need your truth, which is what does HIS (or her) truth mean to you? How does his truth interact with yours?

To put it another way, how likely would you be to bring sunscreen if Fox News told you it would be sunny today?

Which brings me to blogging and politics. Truth is all around you: John McCain has his truth, so does Barack Obama. Both of their truths are intended to influence you to vote for them, and both of their truths, while true, in that moment are also lies!

We're seeing this in the outrage of the left over Obama's move to the middle. He presented a truth to us that said "I'm with you," and then turned his back on that truth.

But here's the thing: in his mind, both truths are his truth. The context, as with the photograph, is what matters.

The context here is that Obama wants to be President. What else did we expect from a man who rose four years ago from state legislator to Senator and now to Democratic candidate for President? He sat down, figured out a strategy to win the nomination and then the general election and is carrying it out perfectly.

We bought into his truth but the truth we bought into was not the truth he really had.

(crossposted to S
imply Left Behind)

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  • Of course, there's also the truth about American politics (and democratic politics generally, if not all politics generally), which is that truth is often secondary to deceit.

    I would not argue that Obama is being deceitful, just that he is playing the game to win. And to win you need to be all things to all people, or at least many things to many different constituencies. I am troubled by some of Obama's apparent shifts, but one needs to take into account the context. Winning a presidential election is a lot different than winning primaries and caucuses dominated by party members. It's not so much that he is being deceitful, or lying, or flip-flopping, or being an opportunist, it's that he's shifted his emphasis.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 4:28 PM  

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