"There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul. We spend our entire lives looking for the outlines." ~Josephine Hart
Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, each one of us is on a quest for truth. It is human nature to wonder--to seek--to fill the gaps of knowledge, and color in the spaces between the known and the unknown. We are not satisfied to "let it be" and accept that perhaps some information is beyond our grasp. It is what makes life frustrating and wonderful. It is what makes us pathetic and extraordinary at the same time.
We are seekers.
And thank goodness we are. If we weren't, polio would still plague us. The world would be flat. Lands and islands would remain undiscovered. We want answers. We want to be able to look into the looking glass and see not the murky image but the real one. We are searching for the truth.
Whether it's the Truth with a capital T or the truth about something specific, it is the same general concept. Every subject you take in school supports this search: What really happened on December 7, 1941 and what were the events that led up to it? What is the answer to this mathematical puzzle, or what steps did Einstein take to derive his theory of relativity? What is the author really trying to tell us in this passage, and does this symbolize anything profoundly universal? We want the answers, and we want them to make sense to us. We want to know, once and for all.
Schools seek to teach us not only how to uncover "truth," but how to recognize when something might be masquerading as truth. It starts early--some might argue too early--in elementary grades when we try to identify the differences between facts and opinions. We try to define both--put them into a neat little box--so we can easily and quickly recognize both and decipher their differences.
But...that begs another question...can "truth" be characterized in this way? Can opinions also be facts? What about morals and ethics? Are they facts? According to many dictionary definitions, they are not. So if our notions of right and wrong cannot be characterized as truth, but merely opinion, then why was the world so outraged recently when a cartoonist was brutally murdered because someone did not like what he had to say? What right do we have to point fingers if "Murder is wrong" is a moral opinion, not fact?
So much to sift through. I would like to challenge you to read this opinion article recently submitted to the New York Times. Not only is it an excellent piece of persuasive writing, but it also challenges the way we define truth and differentiate truth from opinion. After you read, please answer the following questions: 1. What, if anything, is wrong with the current distinction between fact and opinion? 2. Is there such thing as "moral truths" or does everything that is classified as a moral or belief indicate opinion only? 3. Is there such a thing as truth? How do we recognize it?
Maybe the search for the truth will always remain just that: a search. As the quote indicates at the top of this post, maybe truth is eternal. Therein lies the quandary: