By Lana Turnbull
Despite what we hear a lot today, I still believe the truth matters. This has been called the beginning of the “post-truth” era, and “alternative facts” have become the buzzwords of the year. But here is why we can’t allow ourselves to give up on old-fashioned concepts like truth and fact. Like reality, provable truths are the foundation of civil society. Without them, there is nothing concrete for us to hold on to and we might just walk off the edge of this big flat earth! Oh, wait a minute, the earth is not flat, it’s a sphere and we have undeniable proof of that truth.
Without truth how do we teach our children to be honest? When the cookie jar gets broken, somebody did it. In most families there is more than one likely suspect, but somebody did it and it’s up to the parents (assuming they didn’t do it) to get the culprit to fess up. There is no alternative fact to the matter. It’s broken. Somebody broke it. Period. The same thing applies to homework. The age-old alternative fact of the dog ate it never worked and still doesn’t. There is a truth about every action and try as we might, twisting it one way or the other, just leads to a big hot mess and it doesn’t change the facts.
It’s easy to understand how we got to this place where truth and fact are mixed up with opinion and spin. Seeking the agreement of others is human nature. When cable news figured out it could cater to a particular audience with a particular ideology and belief system, it just paved the way for alternative views of reality. What we have to remember, however is that they are alternative views, but not alternative realities. Opinion is one thing, and fact is another and it is dangerous when we start to believe they are one in the same.
We can’t just select the truths we like. That’s a lesson we should all have learned by the time we became adults, no matter how painful it is. Not everyone will like us. We won’t always be the smartest or the most attractive or the most successful. And lashing out when our opinions are not accepted by others is not the way to win friends and influence people. It’s also not a healthy way to live.
A mile is still 5,280 feet. The Earth still revolves around the sun. Water still runs downhill. And gravity still keeps us from flying off the earth. I don’t know about you, but I find truth and facts very comforting. It’s fine for us to have our own opinions, in fact we should. But let’s not confuse opinion with fact…with the possible exceptions of mothers. Moms are the only ones still allowed to make it true…just because they say so.