I just heard an advertisement that talked about discovering “my truth.” To me, this seems to be somewhat of a contradiction in terms.
Obviously when we talk about something being mine, it belongs to me. My life is my life. My vehicle is my vehicle. It belongs to me. It is in my possession. Simultaneously, it is not owned by anyone else. That is an important thing to recognize. This obviously does not mean that other people cannot observe my life, talk about my life, judge my life, influence my life or change my life. However, they cannot possess my life because it is something that is mine. Going back to the vehicle example, someone can take possession of my vehicle, but at that point it ceases to be mine. If I sell you my car, it has become your car and is not mine anymore.
Something that is mine does not necessarily have to be exclusively mine. America is my country. You can also legitimately say that America is your country. America is something that is external to us both, but we can both say that we possess it and have a legitimate claim to it at the same time. It is not the type of thing that can only be possessed by one person or another. It is a different type of possession of sorts.
But these types of entities are often times not things that you actually possess. America is my country, but I do not own America. You do not either. Still, it is something that we are part of. It is some type of collective enterprise, and it is a kind of ownership I suppose. At the very least, it is a part of a type of corporation for lack of a better word. There are many owners who have an interest in the overall project.
Now thinking about the word truth. Obviously that means that something has a quality of being true. Any idea may be the truth. We might speak the truth. We might avoid the truth. The thing about truth is that it seems to fall into the latter category. It does not have to be, and does not seem to be, true for only me. The fact that the sky is blue is not just my truth. It is more like America being your country and my country. It expresses a true quality about the sky. It is not just my truth. You also possess that truth because the fact of the matter is that the sky being blue is external to you and I. It is truly blue in its composition, so that is not something that only I recognize. The fact that I said the sky is blue does not mean that you cannot say it. When I own my car, it is only mine. When I recognize a truth about the outside world, it is the other kind of fact. We can simultaneously observe the same thing and come to the same conclusion based on the evidence.
Fascinatingly, when we put together my truth, truth tries to become the first type of fact. So many people talk about speaking their own truth, but that truth may be entirely foreign to what anybody else observed in the world around them. We are told that is not right to challenge someone else’s truth because that is somehow offensive. However, it seems that things that belong to the category of truth have the quality of being true. When we talk about truth, it is typically something beyond ourselves that we observe. We discover something about the world, and we know something is true because other people see it as well. I know it is not just my mind playing tricks on me because other people recognize that as well. This is not to fall into the trap of blindly following the majority, but if the truth is actually true, that it has a quality that expands it beyond myself. It is not just by truth. It is the truth. It is a thing that has qualities, and one of those qualities is being true.
I know that this seems like a rather ridiculous exercise, but this is really very difficult topic in our world right now. We talk a lot about truth, and we have people who are discussing how they have their own truth while other people are saying that they have their own truth. Those truth claims contradict, so one of them cannot be true. It is simply the law of non-contradiction at play, and it seems like common sense like I said above. Rather than assuming that truth is a quality that something has, the modern perspective is to bring truth to the human level. Truth is something that we apply to a particular topic. That makes a lot more sense of when we talk about something being my truth. It can be my truth if my truth is something that I give and impose on it. I add the level of significance.
Overall though, we realize that this type of individual definition of truth cannot be true unless we redefine entirely what truth itself actually is. Unless we are going to say that truth is something that I possess and no one else is capable of possessing simultaneously, we have to recognize that there is something external that people can observe and possess together. If we do not do that, then we have lost a vital part of our public discourse. If we entirely internalize truth as a personal experience that we give to things rather than something that things have in and of themselves, then we have no common ground. At best, my truth coincidentally overlaps with yours, but nothing says it has to, and there is no way to determine anything. We cannot come to any conclusion. Our society can only function if we have the capability to discuss things and work out our differences. If we individualize truth in this manner, I fear that we will lose the capability to do that.