Last week my family and I found ourselves amid a whirlwind of virtual fame. It’s already starting to fizzle, as we knew it would, but what happened behind the scenes taught me something important and very powerful. Something I hope I will never forget.
Here is a quick re-cap. I posted a surveillance video of my 2 youngest boys and it went viral. It started with our local news posting the video on their social medial channels. Then they came to interview my boys and I. Suddenly, we were being contacted by national news stations such as Fox News, ABC World News, and Inside Edition – we were asked to be on a national morning show – and we even got an offer from an agency wanting to license and sell the video. It was surreal.
There were thousands of comments praising my boys and their decision, grateful for the example of goodness they had set. And then there were the comments claiming the video was fake, set up, and accusing some involved. Now, I’m not writing this to defend the video or to explain what really happened. I know the whole story, and that’s all that really matters. What I want to write about is a lesson I learned through it all; a lesson on truth and perception.
Many people watched the entire video. They read all the stories about it. They had all the information they could get their hands on, yet they really had no idea what happened. How often do we think we have “all the information” and are quick to judge? I’ve been there many times.
So often the “truths” we tell ourselves are merely fragments of the truth, and sometimes they’re not really the truth at all.
I recently heard the parable of the blind men and the elephant. One blind man only touched the trunk, and was certain it was a snake. Another only touched the knee and was sure it was a tree. Another touched the tail and insisted it was a rope. Each one is describing truth. Each were partly in the right, yet all were in the wrong.
The “truths” we cling to shape the quality of our societies as well as our individual characters. All too often these “truths” are based on incomplete and inaccurate evidence, and at times they serve very selfish motives.
We all have poor judgment. We tend to blur the line between belief and truth. Too often we confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Other times, we don’t believe truth or reject it-because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong.
The thing about truth is that it exists beyond belief. It is true even if nobody believes it.
We simply don’t know all things—we can’t see everything. What may seem contradictory now may be perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information. And that information might not be available now or tomorrow, or in twenty years.
We should all be seeking after truth with an open mind. If we can do that, we will become more tolerant of others, more open to listen, and more inclined to build each other up – instead of tearing each other down.