Necessary Truth?

I fotruthund this meme on one of those pages where all they post are inspirational memes that are either things that people like to read but never practice, things you should have figured out by now or things that sound good at first but upon further reflection – are not.

This meme is of the third kind – it sounds good but in reality is not always the case.  Sure, there are times when the truth is better than not knowing.  Usually those times involve something depressing like your significant other is cheating on you and you knowing this truth is better than constantly wondering if they are cheating or not.  Knowing the truth gives you the ability to make an informed decision on what to do about their cheating.  And so such distressing and depressing situations go.

There are other times where the truth is not necessary.  They say ignorance is bliss and in some instances it is.  Once you know, you can never un-know.  Not knowing all truths can alleviate some of the strain reality places on the mind.

What I mean by this is – remember that movie you saw as a kid…. the one where you fell in love with the animal the story was about – and at the end of the movie, despite the problems that arose, everyone ended up happy.  The family adopted the animal or the animal found its way home or the animal survived – whatever story it was and however it ended.  It made you happy.  Would it have served any purpose for someone to have told you at that time that eventually, the family that adopted the animal was sad because the animal died.  All animals die.  All people die.  That’s life.

Or if someone had pointed out to you that statistically speaking, lost animals rarely find their way home.  They are more likely to get killed out in the world by cars, other animals or the elements.  And then there is the fact that as great as a good triumph over illness or disaster is, it simply is not usually the case.  The odds are against it.  The world, nature – they are unbiased, which means that in general, statistics rule (except at casinos where the house beats the statistical odds every time).  More often than not, people are on the losing end, the sad true end, of statistics.

That guy you knew in grade school that you haven’t seen in the thirty some years since – would knowing he died in a car crash several years ago be better than not knowing?  Knowing this truth would just be one more reminder that death is inevitable for us all.

Most truths will find us eventually.  If no one had told you the animal eventually died in your favorite movie, you would at some point find out anyway, it’s part of the experience of living.

My point is that had you known that adopting a pet would eventually lead to sadness upon the pet’s death – would you, in fear of this grief, have avoided the experience completely by never adopting a pet?  If you did adopt a pet, would your willingness to form an emotional attachment be less?

When you or someone you love is diagnosed with a terminal illness, where the chances of survival of any kind are slim to none, say less than 10% and the fight to survive involves a lot of pain and suffering – would you still fight?  What if your friend told you the true story of their brother/sister/cousin who was diagnosed with the same illness and died in agony after a long struggle?  Would that truth be necessary for you to hear or would it be yet another weight on your already stressed mind?

Not all truths are necessary at all times.  Too many people out there believe that truth is always better than not knowing.  In some cases, knowing is a life saver.  Knowing that if ever caught in a burning building, you only have roughly three minutes to get out before you die from smoke inhalation may save your life.

Knowing every detail of the grisly death of your friend’s friend in that car crash – that won’t save your life.  It won’t prevent you from being in a car crash.  Statistically speaking, there are 10 million car accidents every year and around three in every thousand or so people are killed in those crashes.  For those who say that knowing your friend’s crash story will prevent you from making the same mistakes – well yes, but it won’t prevent others from making mistakes that may ultimately lead to your own death in a car crash.

So before you feel the need to share your truths with someone else because you think their knowing is better than not knowing – ask yourself – ‘Is this truth really better for them than not knowing?’  ‘Will it be helpful or will it only add to the already present weight of knowledge about this big bad world we live in?’

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2 thoughts on “Necessary Truth?

  1. That meme made me think “Sure — so says the person who’s about to stuff some truth down my throat ‘for my own good.'” It is, as you point out very eloquently, complicated. People who are determined to share their truths with all comers — well, often it seems they are avoiding truths about themselves that are obvious to those around them. To be useful, most truths need a context. What we see on the news may be true, but without context it doesn’t tell us anything useful. And so on. On the whole I’m suspicious of any statement that contains “always” or “never.”

    • I agree, truth does need a context. It is sad that so many news agencies exploit truth, deliberately avoiding its context for the sake of sensationalizing it. And those who wish to share their truths are often only seeking company for their misery.

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