Other Alternate Realities


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Truth, as you may well understand by now, it part of reality. And, since everyone has their own reality, everyone has their own truth. To support this argument, I give you “Jury Nullification”. Nearly everyone has heard of it and most understand that it means the jurors in a trial decided the law was wrong in this particular instance. A person may have been legally guilty but was found innocent by the jury. The jury has substituted their own reality in place of that of the lawmakers.

Probably the most famous or infamous case was the O. J. Simpson trial. In both the verdict and the public reaction to the verdict you can see there was a great chasm between the African-American community and their reality and the rest of the world. This can be better understood when you read the section on "Us and Them".

These personal or social or socio-economic truths are at the root of our inability to function as a single society or even a national society.

Another example I personally experienced was in high-school during the first phases of integration. My school was particularly prejudiced against integration so I decided to try to befriend one of the, at that time, black students and invite him home for lunch. As a senior, I could leave the school for lunch. We went to my home for lunch and for me to get to know him better. He was willing to talk with me and we started discussing the difficulties of race relations in the south. I told him about an experience I had had with my fellow students in a debate class where the merits of integration were debated.

In a formal debate, the side that has the best presentation with the most number of arguments and references is supposed to win. I was not on one of the teams, I was in the audience. When the debate was over, it appeared an easy decision to make. The team that was against integration had presented only three arguments with three references over and over again. The team that was pro integration had presented more that twice the number of arguments and references and did not have to repeat themselves.

The class voted unanimously for the team against integration. This was their own form of “Jury Nullification”. I was so angry with the stupidity of my fellow classmates and the failure of the teacher to deal with the situation that I refused to participate any further in the debates. Needless to say this caused a great problem for the school and after deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, the school agreed to let me write a paper for my grade instead of pushing the issue.

Now, back to my luncheon… My classmate, whose name I cannot recall after all of these years, talked to me about only one issue, the issue of financial reparations. Three things became clear from our discussion. One was that this was not his own idea. He had had it taught to him as a “truth” and not an idea. The second was that he was not in the least concerned about the impact this idea might have on me or any other so-called white person. Finally it was clear that there was to be no discussion about this topic whatsoever. He believed the “truth” of his position and was unwilling to discuss it any further.

The belief in absolute truth is one of the most dangerous ideas our civilization has ever developed. When there is no room for discussion or willingness to debate in a sincere and rational manner, the merits of any idea, there can only be resolution by power and that nearly always leads to violence as we have witnessed over and over again.

What this mindset seems unable to grasp is the difference between being dead right or dead wrong. There is none. You’re dead either way.

This page was last modified:      Friday, May 23, 2014 at 11:11:48 AM