Has postmodernism deconstructed our collectively held objective truth into smithereens? Is it possible there is no such thing as truth and fiction anymore? Or that whether something is considered a truth or a fiction is a matter of opinion based on the facts the decider has at hand? Has this always been the case anyway? And a certain powerful group of people just convinced themselves and their societies that an actual truth existed, and the job was to discover it, arrive at it in some so-called objective way?
How can something so sacrosanct, so essential, so seemingly necessary as an objective, verifiable, repeatable, social truth wobble? And yet all around us that is what we see – everyone feeling entitled to their own truth. Is it possible that the institutions under siege are not democracy, capitalism, or other systems of social regulation, but the even more fundamental system of social regulation we call “The Truth”?
For awhile in the United States, we have been pacified by a two party system, arguing the social truths in government, in media and in the court. But as social life becomes exponentially more multi-faceted, having to now reckon with things like systemic racism, that two party system fails to represent all the multifaceted versions of truth sprouting up. Throw in the issue of mistrust, due to significant and repeated breaches of trust during the history of the country, on the part of the authorities, and you have the splintered, post-truth scenario we find ourselves in today.
Social Interactions no longer have a script. This is a good thing, right? We are increasingly freed of the confining scripts. But then how do we know who we are in relation to one another? With our social identities revealed to be fictions, who are we?
The moment we are in socially is a great mirror for the process of emotional and spiritual maturation we go through as individuals. As we begin to discover our true nature we wonder how we could ever have believed some of the stories we told ourselves. We wonder whether our former truths were all fictions. But eventually we come to find that there are stages of development, and truths appropriate to each of those stages. We evolve out of prior truths all the time. Why would we not also do this socially, collectively?
The job of a parent coaxing a child to a new level of development is not so much to argue with them about why their view of the truth is inaccurate as much as it is to show them the benefit of seeing things a different way. Similarly, our job collectively is not to argue about the truth, but to coax new levels of awareness and understanding. And that is only possible if the person you’re trying to coax feels that you love and respect them.