The Truth About Truth

During the last presidential election, I lost so much respect for so many folks that I didn’t think my opinion of people could get much lower, but I am now losing even more respect for people than I did back then.

It’s not their opinions that matter — or don’t matter — to me. People can believe whatever they want, can say whatever they want, share whatever they want. I read everything. (In this way, if nothing else, I am a bit different from those who read only that which illuminates or proves what they already believe.) I agree with some of what most people say and most of what some people say, so I really have no stake in what is generally believed or disbelieved.

I have learned enough to know that contrary to what people are saying, we are not all in this together. We might all be dealing with the same global situation, but everyone is dealing with their own particular brand of the situation. Some people are terrified while others don’t seem particularly upset. Some people are going stir-crazy with the lockdowns yet for other people, it’s not much different from their pre-quarantine lives. Some people are dying of loneliness and the lack of touch, others are dying from The Bob or other diseases. Some people are grieving, others are just waiting for the restrictions to be lifted. Some people are angry at those who don’t wear masks even out walking by themselves with no one else around. Some people refuse to wear masks unless it is mandated, and sometimes not even then. Some people are losing jobs, others are losing their minds. Still others are living in dread of the aftermath of the shutdown and the long-term repercussions.

We all live with the values we take to heart and whatever truth we can face. Some people’s truth tends to be very religious. For others it’s politics. Still others look behind the headlines of the news to find deeper reasons for what is happening in the world. It’s all good. It’s all truth in its own way.

As Berrnie LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman) says to his son at the end of the movie Hero: “You remember when I said how I was gonna explain about life, buddy? Well the thing about life is, it gets weird. People are always talking ya about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or somethin’, and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn, as you get older, is there ain’t no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is, you pick the layer of bullshit that you prefer and that’s your bullshit, so to speak.”

Yep. That about covers it, though I have to admit, the toilet paper analogy is especially amusing and apropos considering the current shortage of both toilet paper and truth.

So why am I losing respect? Because other people don’t have the same laissez-faire attitude that Bernie does. Too often people resort to ridicule, belligerence, sarcasm and other tools of the weak when they are confronted with ideas contrary to their own.

What does it matter to anyone what other people believe to be the truth? That’s their level of bullshit. You have your own. Does it matter that some of your FB friends are turning to God to help them through this situation? Does it matter that some are using this situation to foster their political beliefs? Does it matter that some believe the official story? Does it matter that some people are looking for causes and explanations from experts other than the “official” experts?

No. None of that matters. We are all coping the best we can. Sneering at people for their truth is no help to anyone. Getting nasty toward people who post different sources than yours shows a lack of open-mindedness. Ridiculing people only points out the ridiculousness of your own position, not theirs.

I still go on Facebook way more than I should. Partly, it’s to reply to comments that people leave on my posts. Partly it’s to catch up with those few I do respect — the people who post thoughtful articles from a variety of sources and who never resort to ridicule or belligerence or sarcasm.

And partly, I have to admit, because I am bored. (Boredom is not something I ever like admitting, because I believe any reasonably intelligent person has the resources to stave off boredom, but these are times that try even the most resourceful.)

Luckily, FB has a snooze button so I can put the less than reasonable folks in a time-out. Even more luckily, my knee is healing, which allows me to get around more and find other things to do than play on the computer. (Part of the issue with my knee/leg, I have come to realize is that I spend way too much time sitting at my computer, so staying away is good on so many levels.)

This the truth. Or at least my truth.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.