The phrases “alternative facts” and “fake news” are rampant throughout social media these days. Posts and tweets concerning everything from Sean Spicer and Kelleyanne Conway’s unsubstantiated claims regarding Trump’s inauguration and the ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ to reports that police officers burned protesters’ tepees at Standing Rock have gone viral. Comments are made upon comments, headlines and photos are shared and reposted. Both average citizens and well-known ones are raising their voices and jumping into the fray. After all, how are we to make informed decisions without reliable information?
But what is reliable information? What is truth? That is a matter of perspective. Anyone who has been involved in, been present at, or even watched a TV show about, a criminal trial is aware of how challenging it is to piece together the “facts” or “truth” of an event. No matter how accurate witnesses attempt to be when testifying, no two will be able to provide the exact same details. Their physical distances from the action, the amount of light and noise that was present at their positions, their angles of observation, their states of mind, their internal filters developed through their respective life experiences – in short, their perspectives – are going to be unique to them.
Perspective is always limited. Only by opening to and entertaining multiple perspectives can we begin to piece together a comprehensible picture of an issue or event. A physical wound cannot heal unless the two sides close and knit together, allowing new, healthy tissue to form and grow. Perpetuating rigid partisanship, divisiveness, an “us vs. them” mentality, and a need to be “right” prevents healing and growth to occur.
On an individual basis, each person’s perspective is valid to them. What is true for you in any given moment may not be true for me in that same moment, but that need not prevent mutual understanding.
The universe is in constant flux, which means that we are in constant flux. What was “true” for us once is not necessarily true for us now. This anomaly alone fortuitously creates the opportunity to seek and acknowledge other points of view. Holding on to rigid beliefs and insisting that there is only one right way, and that way is yours, stifles the possibility of dialogue and expansion.
Some people, particularly those in roles of authority, may perceive open-mindedness and flexibility as weakness. They may fear humiliation if they show that they are open to considering other perspectives and changing their minds on a topic, especially if it is a defining one for them, something that they have incorporated into their identity, their personal story. The ego holds on tightly to this personal story. Our sense of self, our role in our community, and our standing in society have largely been built on our personal story, and dropping our story, or at least being willing to make substantial edits, places our ego at risk.
Some people in roles of authority may perceive open-mindedness and flexibility as weakness. Click To Tweet
So we stick to our beliefs and adopt information that appears to be in line with those beliefs. We pass on that information to others whom we believe share our beliefs about other people or about the state of politics, health, religion, etc., without seeking to substantiate it. Perhaps there is even an unconscious desire for the information, the stories, to be ‘true’, because that would confirm and validate our own existing beliefs. Our need to “be right” would be satisfied.
And then there is the deliberate intention to manipulate other’s thinking. Whether it is alternative facts, fake news or spin from any other area of your life, remember that where the need to control is in place, fair and balanced knowledge is driven out. How might we be contributing to the quagmire by sticking to our own limited beliefs and desire to control, not only others but our own lives?
So how are we to proceed? We cannot control what others think, say, or do, nor is that a realistic or desirable goal. But remember that you are not just a spectator in this global theater. What we can do is ask questions and examine the surrounding beliefs, motives, actions, and desires. What is their intention? And what is your unbiased perspective on the matter?
Understand that truth truly is relative – both Kelleyanne’s and your own. We are responsible for our own growth and the forward evolution of humanity’s consciousness. It’s time now to take personal responsibility for our own stories and the motives we’re holding onto. Then look for the path of balance within the bigger picture.
Wisdom is what is needed to navigate the myriad alternative truths running rampant in today’s society. Wisdom results from putting all the fragments of the available information together into an integral composite. By continually asking questions and opening to a broader perspective, we bring increased understanding and peace to our own lives, and through our lives to the greater global community.
For further questions for reflection on this and related topics, and guidance on how to become more conscious in the world, see my book Evolve Your Life, available at Amazon.com.