Reality vs the truth
Reality does not equal the truth — I read this short passage in an essay about ways historians try to shape their work and narratives without regard to their preconceptions. And everyone has them, preconceptions, that is. There is no person in the world that is not biased in one way or the other. Of course, it is possible, even recommendable, to be able to check your prejudices and be impartial — but there is something deeper in all of us that will shape how we will (involuntarily) construct the truth of reality in our mind.
Reality is what is, what is happening right now, and what we can experience as it exists. The truth is how we apply the reality in mind to have our understanding of it. For example — an hour ago, I was outside smoking, there was a heavy downpour and I saw a guy walking by, no umbrella, no hoodie, visibly wet. That is the reality — a guy walking in rain, soaked to the bone. My thoughts and my truth of what I saw was that the guy was unprepared, he didn’t check the forecast that called for rain today and suffered consequences. I don’t know what was his true reading of this situation. Could be the same as mine, or could be that he took a calculated risk leaving home when it wasn’t raining hoping not to get wet running a quick errand. Could be that he forgot an umbrella, could be that doesn't have an umbrella, maybe it is broken or he cannot afford it. Could be that he doesn’t care for rain and getting wet, could be that he likes getting soaked and walking around dripping wet.
I don’t know what his truth is, or what could be the truth of another person seeing it. For me, the truth was that this guy was unprepared — because I would never be caught out in the rain without any protection. If the forecast calls for the rain — my umbrella is always in my backpack, another one is always in my car, and I would wear a jacket with the hood just in case (I also have a light waterproof jacket in my car — again, just in case). I’d rather be overprotected and overprepared than have a possibility of discomfort from the rain. But it is just me, and my way of thinking and living. And that shapes the way I perceived that situation today. And that was something so mundane — a guy walking in the rain. With complex situations — be it political, social, religious — our prejudices shape our perception of the truth on a much bigger scale. And it is crucial to remember that our truth is only one of the other possible truths. We can keep that our truth for our understanding and accept that there are others and they are equally as valid by the perception of other people.