It was one of those brilliant prairie days that gleam in my memory like the first time I discovered that birthdays meant presents. The sun looked down from a cloudless sky as the wind moved relentlessly through the field of tombstones bowing the sparse trees in dutiful adulation. My thoughts of those who slept here were painted with faces and stories of a time when life was not as charitable. Even in death these resilient and enduring people steel their faces to the inhospitality of an unforgiving land. Their very presence on this prairie hill behind the small white church presents an astonishing concept. Even in death they bear witness to the sometimes harshness of reality and the resilient flexibility of living with truth. This prairie cemetery brought to mind another blinding flash of the obvious, what has happened to the truth?
Narrative has supplanted reality, whether founded in truth or not. We even find ourselves mired in conversations about what truth actually is. To quote the Hebrew prophet Isaiah “truth has stumbled in the streets.”
What is truth? Yes, you are correct, that is a pretty weighty subject. History is full of examples of interpreting experiences that lead to a perception of truth. In most of the world’s wars truth has been the under girding of conflict and in the end defined by the victors. Today's world is full of factions all of which claim to have a corner on the truth. Reality, however, reveals that none of us do and that all of us do. So if we were in philosophy class most likely the basic assumption would be that truth is personal. In this thinking even if there are two diametrically opposing positions both perceptions are true. If that is correct, we have adeptly brought ourselves back to the starting point, is there such a thing as truth?
Doubting Thomas - Mark Tansey
At this point the observation is that life provides us with experience that teaches lessons. Those lessons come from personal experience or the witness of other experiences that report on the appearance of truth in events and times commonly recognized as being real. This common recognition of reality or truth is important and, if provided with the opportunity, can be identified inside most all individual, cultural, and societal narratives. In each of the stories that are carried around by every human there is a place, acknowledged or ignored, that we all share. That simple truth is the foundation for all others. Impudent as it may sound in a world that embraces difference it is our similarities that will bring us together and in doing so define truth itself.
The recognition of common ground is the knowledge that will change the world from the bottom to the top. Knowledge is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom enables credible action. Credible action leads to civil dialogue. Civil dialogue highlights the value of common truths. This builds sensitivity and respect for those that appear different but in reality, are just the same. This common truth remembered on the wind-swept hill with its monuments of stone is mankind’s only hope and always has been.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal. (Thomas Jefferson)