Fact checking

Many of you may have watched the State of the Union address earlier this week. Some of you were encouraged. Some of you couldn’t wait for the fact checkers to do their work. Some of you didn’t really care or are not that interested in such events. Or . . .

Much of mainstream media credited many of the stated accomplishments to the Obama era with just marginal improvements in the last year since President Trump took office. Some reports emphasized exaggerations and overstatements, although found truthful statements as well. Some reported triumphs of a president who finally delivered results to a country waiting for such a leader.

But what does such disparity of “facts” mean . . . ?

Nothing highlights the phenomenon of relative truth about societal events perhaps more clearly than an event such as the State of the Union address. One thing most can agree upon is that our society is very polarized. So opposing views of what was said is a clear result. This very human tendency of seeing from our own world view creates the need at accident scenes for the statements of multiple witnesses, for each often sees what transpired, the facts, with very different conclusions of what happened.

Often this disparity can be the result of viewing the event from a different location. Yet when we dialogue with others, or see and hear activities in our world, or read about them, we each are viewing and experiencing through our own frames of reference. Every human being has a unique perspective, molded by our genes, our experiences, and by the people with whom we associate regularly. So who can possibly be each of our own personal fact checkers?

We often think we can be that to ourselves. “I know what happened! I saw it with my own eyes!” ” I heard that with my own ears!” ” This is who I am.” ” I know what’s right.” Or with a little more egocentric self awareness, “That’s how it feels to me so that’s how it is.”

Our own fact checkers, i.e, ourselves, are perhaps the most distorted, even for those of us who are emotionally healthy. For it is inevitable that as humans, we are challenged in this regard. We can’t help but to perceive the world from our own vantage points, our own biases crafted over years of living. The result is that facts, as they relate to interpersonal and sociological conclusions, are relative, for humans are relational beings. And for this reason, it is helpful to temper whatever we learn about these topics through media, reading, and experiences, with the suggested premise that facts about societal events are subject to multiple interpretations.

There is only one multi-faceted fact affecting humanity that is absolute -that HaShem loved mankind so much, warts and all, that He gave us His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, who died for our sins and resurrected, and that He is our Lord and Savior.

Shabbat shalom.

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