Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World

It was a cold winter day and bits of icy snow were still falling on the windshield. I was in the passenger seat of our station wagon and my mother’s mouth was set in “stress.” She said, “When we go inside, you will hear me apologize for being late, and blaming the snow. This is a white lie. We shouldn’t ever lie. But if I don’t, I might lose the appointment.” I was a little bit in awe—my mother was about to lie. I walked into the hair salon with ears and eyes paying close attention. And she did mumble something to the receptionist about our precarious ride to the shop, after which we were hustled over to a waiting space and quickly given our turns.

The reason this event was forever etched in my mind is that honesty and truthfulness were high priorities in my family. I was taught very early not to lie and that the consequences for lying were far worse than those for mistakes that were truthfully owned up to.

Is truth still important? And what about Truth? Truth with a capital T is a truth that is not influenced by whether or not people believe it. It will remain True if all the world sees it as false and it will remain True if all the world sees it as true.

Truth with a capital T has faced centuries of challenges, not the least of which have been human attempts to convey or even enforce Truth. These attempts were not Truth, but human truths that were culturally and/or historically bound and therefore did not serve the greater Truth. Truth still exists today, undeterred by a society termed post-Truth by many. Post-Truth is not a chronological claim—it does not mean that we have moved into a time after truth, but rather into a time where Truth and even truth are deemed less important than personal or political gain.

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