Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Facts

“Just the facts, ma’am” said Jack Friday in Dragnet. We are obsessed with the facts. The facts will tell us the truth right? Maybe not so much.

We have all seen the experiment or heard of the accident with 4 witnesses and all of them told what happened. They told the facts and all the facts were in conflict with each other. The more witnesses you had, the more problems you had identifying the facts and consequently, the truth.

Maya Angelou is fond of saying that “sometimes the facts obscure the truth.” And the truth is that sometimes truth is what we WANT to remember and not what actually happened. I want to remember a GREAT childhood but my brother or my sister might remember it differently. I want to remember how this guy really ripped me off when in fact I was just stupid at the time. We taint facts for political reasons. We taint facts for personal reasons. We taint facts to avoid responsibility. We taint facts to bend the truth to our advantage. And we simply don’t remember what we should remember to get all the facts straight. I have a son with a near photographic memory for facts and figures but he forgets to come to a family dinner. We remember what we want to remember and it only marginally has anything to do with the facts.

But that is okay. As long as we understand that our facts are messed up and prejudiced by our view of them we can get along. This is the truth AS I SEE IT and not this is the truth NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY! As Maya said, sometimes the facts get in the way of the truth. I can find out a lot about a person if I get them talking about politics. Before too long I can tell you if they are Republican or Democrat, both sides seeing the same “facts” but coming to totally different conclusions. I can tell a lot about your job by asking simple work questions. I don’t want to know the “facts” of your job. I want to know if you are happy there, if you are doing what you want to do, or if you have big or small dreams. The facts often get in the way of the truth.

I am okay with that ambiguity. But I am okay with it because I understand that we all tell the “facts” according to our own worldview, our own particular bent of looking at the world. Your filter can then go through my filter and we can have a GREAT discussion on issues that are important. But if one of the parties doesn’t believe they have a bent of the facts but has a corner on the facts; there is a problem.

What about you? How do you “see” the facts?

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