Experience, Fact, and Truth

Posted on November 5, 2014 in Community, Justice

Experience: Yesterday was election day. Many, but not all, voted and/or watched the returns come in.

Fact: the Republicans now control both houses of Congress.

Truth: The “Republican wave” was a rejection of President Obama’s policies.

Or not.

Depending on which analyst and pundit you listen to.

Experience. Fact. Truth.

My news and social media perusal this morning led me to, among other things, a Facebook post and two op-ed pieces in The New York Times that got me to thinking—a lot—about these three words.

The Facebook post was a quote by Albert Einstein that one of my online friends shared, which I re-posted onto my timeline:

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

The first Times op-ed piece I read was Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Fast.”

Great headline.

His point is that the “nonsense election” we just witnessed missed the big challenges we face in the world: the resilience of our workers, environment, and institutions. He makes an eloquent case that we are experiencing three “climate changes” – digital, ecological, and geo-economical. He used the deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon, and the fact that Sao Paulo is about to run out of water unless it rains, to make his point about climate change.

Experience. Facts.

The second was Frank Bruni’s “Republicans, Meet Science.” His opening sentence makes it clear where he’s coming from:

Just days before the midterm elections, we got the latest alarm: The globe is heating up like a griddle, and we’re just lolling here like eggs.”

As a writer, I appreciate that “hook.” No doubt what his opinion was. And it drew me into the full article. Blunt and articulate, he makes his case why the new Republican majority in Congress needs to have “proper regard” for science. Why empiricism, what we see, must have primacy in setting policy. Because science is truth.

Experience. Facts. Truth.

These three words have become synonymous in our culture.

I don’t think so.

We observe. Things happen to us. We learn. Experience. If we do it, or it happens to us, it’s a fact. Are all of our facts “truth?”

Can we see life, the world, as it is, or only as we are?

Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?”

What say you? Let’s start a discussion.