What is “truth”? Is fact, truth? Is myth, truth? Is legend, truth? If five people witness an automobile accident from five different points of view, there is a possibility that you could get five differing stories of the event.
Each of these stories contain an element of fact; “there was an accident.” Each may contain an element of myth; “I know whose fault it was.” Each may contain an element of legend; “This intersection is notorious.” These factors (fact, myth, legend) combined create the “truth” that each of the five witnesses experienced, which can be five differing “truths”, based on five different viewpoints.
Once an individual belief becomes “truth”, that truth is handed-down to others. The more a story is shared, the more truthful it becomes. At some point, these truths can become so ingrained in our culture that we refuse to accept any other possibilities. At that point, truth becomes sacred, and many will fight to defend that truth.
About 600 years ago, most people were certain of one very important truth; the Earth is flat, and if you go too far away from the shore, you will fall off the edge. That truth was proven false. Many centuries earlier, it was the truth that the Sun revolves around the Earth. We all know how that one turned-out.
It is likewise dangerous to assume that our viewpoint or interpretation of Holy Scripture is the only truth. Humans have gotten in a lot of trouble that way. Various groups throughout human history have used Scripture to separate, rather than unite humankind.
Differing belief structures often decide who is “in” and who is “out”. A person may be “in” favor one moment, and “out” of favor the next. Individual interpretations of Scripture become absolute truth when spoken firmly and repetitively, and some groups exclude all who do not fully agree with their interpretation of truth. Given enough time, these interpretations can become sacred.
As a child of the 1960’s, I prefer to question everything. I believe the old interpretations that divide people must fall. We must make a concerted effort to break-down the barriers that divide us; race, gender, sexuality, class status, religion/belief structure, et al.
Here are some indisputable facts to support my belief that we must change our ways of responding to one another: (1) We are all occupants of this island planet. (2) We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. (3) We are all, in some way, dependent on each other. (4) We are dividing and killing each other at an alarming rate.
Notice the more religious a society becomes, the more violent it becomes. When anyone believes they are justified by God, they can convince themselves that anything they do is right. It is time to re-think any interpretation that promotes division. It is time to recognize and value the uniqueness of every individual. It is time to learn to love; unconditionally.
Blessings and Peace to You All,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at email@example.com. St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.