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Lies and Our Odd Relationship with Truth

6 min read

There is such a close kinship between story and truth (or reality). The poet Murial Rukeyser tells us “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

So how much of “truth” is actually to be found in facts, and how much is to be found in the stories we tell ourselves and each other about what’s happening and what that means? Facts may, indeed, get whatever power they have from the stories they tell.

In myself and others I see selected facts and logics coalescing around good stories they support, while other facts and logics (which don’t fit so well) are ignored, actively rejected or even fought. After all, if we let the misfits in, we might have to change a good story or two — even lose confidence in the fundamental stories we use to make sense of everything else — our Truth. We might have to live in uncertainty, puzzled or excited, vulnerable to whatever came next that could shake up our world.

This is not a comfortable place to be. But I can imagine it being closer to The Truth — where The Truth is not a story or anything very solid, but an opening into greater vastness, greater detail, greater diversity, deeper layers of every story that comes along, and the natural co-creativity that bubbles up out of all those stories interacting — an awed partnership with the wild unfolding of the universe.

It might be healthier place to live, in the long run, than any of the places where we decide we know enough to leave our uncertainty and openness behind.

If we got accustomed to living there, I suspect we might even become wise. But I’m not sure we’d even notice we’d changed. We’d be too busy exploring each other’s worlds and finding our way together into shared stories that make temporary but powerful sense to us all.

So perhaps the lies of politicians are best seen as mirrors in which to see more clearly our own ambivalence about Truth and our passionate love affair with Story, that we may step through the looking glass together, with eyes open, to co-create a new civilization where power is less toxic and Truth is in love with Mystery.

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