For years I have proved our family motto with my sometime slippery command of facts and history. From the everyday settings to the wider world, I have no limits when it comes to being “Often wrong, but never in doubt.” I perform such self-inflicted ignominy before audiences large and small, and have become so accustomed to those moments, that I am no longer embarrassed by them. I simply quote the family motto and take a bow.
This just proves that we all need fact checkers. My siblings, my wife, my daughters and sons-in-law, my fellow friends and artists, yea verily, many of the members of my entire community have done the honors of busting my “never in doubt” bloviations with the truth, not indulging my “alternative” facts. It always brings laughter and pleasure.
Dr. Oliver Sacks once wrote of a panel he was on where the topic of discussion was information and communication in the twenty-first century. An internet pioneer was proud of the fact that people, including his daughter, had access to information no one could have imagined a few decades before. Sacks said that while one might be “…stocked with wide-ranging information, that was different from knowledge.” And I would add that such knowledge and information does not guarantee a gaining of wisdom.
We humans are easily bewitched. We prefer perceptions over facts and truth. Too often we gather around us only those who say what our “itching ears want to hear.” And how we humans “turn our ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
I want people around me to tell me the truth, speak truth into my heart and mind, even when it is painful to hear and perhaps more painful to correct. An ancient Hebrew proverb says it best, “Better an open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
The impermanence of life is all around us, and at the end of the day what we are left with are memories. May our memories be full of truth, truth that corresponds with reality and honest relationships, truth that provides a balm to our soul and gladness to our heart.