The Grievous Truth
According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary truth is, “the real facts about something: the things that are true”. It is true that I am an eighteen-year-old girl sitting at her desk and writing an essay about the opinion of truth. Is it true that I am disheveled? Is it true that I am thin? Is it true that this essay is well-written? These questions cannot be answered truthfully. In actuality, the world as we know it is based upon our personal opinions, not the truth.
As children, my sister and I were always told to tell the truth. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends, teachers; all these people would scold and shake their heads when they believed we were lying. A vase was broken, when asked who broke it the adults expected a humble admittance that the child, in fact, broke it. However, the child believed that a ghost broke it. This isn’t a lie. While running across the room, the child tripped over a cable that was plugged in behind a table that supported the vase. This table was across the room, and the cable was hidden. When the vase shattered to pieces from five feet away the child, who vividly believes in ghosts, concluded that a paranormal spitefully broke the vase. The child did not lie; his or her psyche causes the paranormal version of the story to be true.
An altered psyche isn’t the only reason for varied truths. Throughout the existence of the human race, man has believed in one or many Gods. This belief has controlled history, politics, and the world’s social construct. Roman Catholics believe that once someone dies their soul is judged by God and they either go to heaven or hell, but continue to watch over those left on earth. In 2005, a little girl’s dog died after a serious seizure. Instead of telling her that the dog has died, her mother instead told her that the dog moved to a different home in heaven but still plays with her in secret. The mother’s upbringing makes her story true, even though there is no scientific evidence to prove this.
Politicians, celebrities, and other public figures are often accused of lying, but the truth is unknown to us, the general public. Every human isn’t present for everyone else’s life. There is no way of telling the effect of every action on the rest of humanity. The president of a country might have said something to a different president, he or she may have believed that they were talking about world peace. That is their truth. This may or may not be the truth of the other party. Dialects, beliefs, moods, emotions, and personal perceptions all alter the truth.
Even when the truth is told and is accepted, it’s not always wanted. The little girl who lost her dog was not comforted by the “truth”, whichever the version. The general public will disapprove of a president who says he or she believed that the topic of conversation was world peace, but the wanted results were not achieved. However, years of tradition in many different cultures place importance upon the truth, forcing society to tell the truth even when it can damage the majority.
In Pawel Pawlikowski’s Oscar-winning film, “Ida”, an orphaned girl learns that she is Jewish, and her parents were murdered during World War II. Ida is about to take her vows and become a nun for the Catholic Church when she finds out this tragic truth and is acquainted with her aunt. The movie follows Ida’s journey with her aunt as she tries to find out her parent’s fate and decide whether or not she wishes to continue with her commitment to the Catholic Church. This truth about her parents only hurts Ida more. Her heart is broken by her aunt, her parents’ death, and a man she would have never met otherwise. In the end, Ida returns to the convent, presumably to take up the veil. Her fate remained the same, however now she undertook her future with a damaged soul.
The truth hurts. Almost everyone has heard this saying at one point in their life. So why do people find it necessary to hurt those around them by speaking these hurtful truths, even when they’re not always facts? A lot of these painful “truths” tend to be opinions. “You’re stupid.” A “truth” told to a little boy by his parents when he received a ‘C’ on a spelling test. This truth hurt his self-esteem so much that several years later he committed suicide due to a feeling of failure. Our version of the “truth” is not always in need of being voiced. The truth is still true to the individual when it is not voiced. So why hurt those around us with these destructive truths?
In “The Secret History of Wonder Woman”, Jill Lepore reveals the family arrangements of William Moulton Marston. He was married, and resided, with two women; Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne. He had four children, two with each woman, who, although lived together with both women, did not know that Marston was their father and that he was married to both women. Whether this truth was withheld to protect the parents or their children, it is not known. There was no lie told in this situation, withholding the truth allowed for the happiness of this family. There was no sin committed in regards of lying. The children’s innocence was saved during their younger lives. They didn’t have to worry about what their parents were doing and what society thought of them.
Lying is taboo in many cultures; this does not, however, give reason to being one hundred percent honest to everyone at all times. Society’s obsession with honesty may seem like a good standard of morality, but the human race has a tendency of overdoing many things, such as telling the truth. Sometimes keeping the truth to oneself saves a life.