It's everywhere in the news.... People are lying, the media is fake, we now hear about "alternative facts" and the list goes on.... We see articles, videos, news conferences all telling us things and yet we, as society, can't seem to agree on what we are hearing and seeing! Society can’t seem to agree on what is true!
It’s important to understand that our “truth” is not based on something we decided to believe when we woke up today. It has been building, layer upon layer, and cemented in us as we evolved into adulthood. In Systems Theory there is an understanding that each person is an expert of their own lives. Who knows you better than you? The theory further says the experience of everyone is unique only to them: Two kids can grow up in the same house but still have completely different views of the world. We start to see things in different ways and make our values based on our life experiences... seafood is delicious (or not), football is the best sport (or not), we are close to our family (or need space); our list of values – and our truth - builds as time goes by.
There is a danger in believing our own truths are absolute. It is not in our being certain of our values but, instead, how our truths may hinder our ability to live with the people around us. But what can we do? Do we have to give up our own truth to accommodate those around us? And what do we do if our values are in direct conflict with someone else?
We can agree to disagree and that could be easy... I love football but I will let you tell me soccer is better. Shellfish is slimy but I will make it for dinner because you love it... But what about the tough ones? What if one is pro-life and the other is pro-choice? What if one believes in gun control but the other defends their second amendment rights? Would you be willing to risk your friends and loved ones to live in your truth?
It's so easy to hide behind keyboards and express our truths to the world - telling those who don't agree with you that they don’t have all the facts. Suddenly our values are priceless and its vital that we make our voices heard. We are in an age where our socializing can be limited to the clicks of a keyboard or the swipes on our phone yet do we apply this same approach in our personal lives?
Can you call your coworker a name if they don't agree with you and walk away without worrying about them in the future? Can you call your significant other "ignorant" and not worry about consequences? Social media has given us a slippery slope where our anonymity presents an opportunity for a false bravado which can spill into our daily lives - and possibly risk friendships we have managed to hold on to for years.
If you realize that you may not always be right, some suggestions are:
Our personal values will never be the personal values of absolutely everyone in your life. Just as your values are somewhat different than your parents it is just as likely that your personal set of values will be different from your partner, your children, and even your best friend. Respecting everyone’s truth is where we can all come together.
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