Can You Handle The Truth?

truthOver in the Make Meaningful Work discussion group, we got into a dialogue this past week about Fake News. Won’t go into everything here, suffice to say that the following is an edited version of the email I posted into the group and now sharing to a wider audience.

I suggested that we could look to maps as a metaphor for truth. For context, take a read of this. Essentially, the author is expounding on an increasing problem that Google and other global cartographers are facing.

I would summarize the challenge as a global context versus a national context … which I would suggest is akin to the ‘bubbles’ we live in.

If you are brought up in the UK, you have a history that you are taught. In France, likewise. In the USA - again. Here’s the question - are all those histories identical? I would suggest not. There are subtle differences and perspectives even in how things are worded.

Inside a nation, your bubble if you will, there is a truth that you generally hold to be absolute. But when you compare to other histories, discrepancies start to appear.

Maps are perfect to demonstrate the challenge.

  • is Kashmir part of India, Pakistan or its own separate state?
  • is Northern Ireland part of Eire or the UK?
  • is Taiwan part of China or an independent sovereign state?
  • is Hawaii the 50th State of the USA, or a sovereign nation under occupation?

…. you see, what I mean? Let’s extend it further.

In the USA, particularly during the 70s and 80s, large numbers of people in the USA, particularly Irish-Americans, supported the IRA. Wikipedia on NORAID. And whether or not Wikipedia is right or wrong about NORAID, it, there is no dispute that USA support for the IRA in their struggle to ‘liberate Northern Ireland’ as strong. All good. Let’s agree that Ireland belongs to Eire - and should be returned.

Now let’s head over to the other Ocean and ask whether Hawaii should also be liberated and returned to the status of sovereign state, as its had been for hundreds of years, complete with a monarchy.

Say what?

It isn’t really taught in US history books, but Hawaii existed as a sovereign nation for centuries until, in 1893, the USA  overthrew the Queen in what today we would call a coup and annexed the islands to the US.

Take a read. And if that peaks your interest - pop over and have a read of the  The Blount Report.

The Blount Report “first provided evidence that officially identified the United States’ complicity in the lawless overthrow of the lawful, peaceful government of Hawaii.” Blount concluded that U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens had carried out unauthorized partisan activities, including the landing of U.S. Marines under a false or exaggerated pretext, to support the anti-royalist conspirators; that these actions were instrumental to the success of the revolution; and that the revolution was carried out against the wishes of a majority of the population of Hawaii.

but then

The Blount Report was followed in 1894 by the Morgan Report, which contradicted Blount’s report by concluding that all participants except for Queen Liliʻuokalani were “not guilty”.

Which is right?

I don’t know. But truth is not only about what you want. Or what you believe. And it is consistent.

We all have out own truths, out beliefs, our prejudices, more often than not based on how we were brought up … and where. It is hard in the mists of history to right wrongs. And even if you could - for who’s benefit? Case in point … should Northern Ireland be removed from the UK? As recently as last year nearly two thirds of the people in Northern Ireland wanted to remain as part of the UK. (Though admittedly - since Brexit, that might have changed.)

See, It’s complicated.

What is not complicated is to point out to anybody that just because whatever truth you have about some aspect of the world, you almost certainly hold a contradiction. And I think that’s because we all have our own truths that we are taught from the beginning in our schools. And the truth we are taught are dependent on where in the world those schools are - and who is controlling what we are taught.

Truth? Can You Handle The Truth? …. and at least keep an open mind.


This Was Originally Posted To Beyond Bridges

The site has been closed down and the material moved to this site for posterity.

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