Who owns the truth?

I read an interesting bit in the recent issue of National Geographic Kids that I found in the pile of my daughter’s school papers.  Their section “Bet you didn’t know” usually has interesting factoids for the kids to ponder over.  This particular one read the following: “you see color differently than the person next to you”.

So the red color that I see isn’t the same red that you see or that the person next to you sees.  Our “reds” are different from each other — and even if that difference is very slight — they are still different.  Which is another evidence of the fact that reality is not really a given but rather an interpretation of what we see it as and of how we process it.

The physics and the science behind it are completely beyond me so I won’t go into that.  What makes this interesting for me is what happens when you replace the word “color” with the word “truth”.  “You see truth differently than the person next to you” — which is another way of saying “your truth is different than mine”.

I think this is very important to remember when we go out into the world and, especially, when we move to other countries and live within other cultures.  Our truth can be very different from the “truth” of your new neighbor — but it doesn’t mean that their “truth” isn’t true.  It’s just a different truth, a different way of processing and interpreting reality around them.  Understanding that we don’t own the only “truth” and that there are many “truths” out there can prevent many conflicts and miscommunications.

I am not saying that you should change the vision of your “truth”.  But accepting that your “truth” is just one of many may actually enrich it.  Just like knowing that “red” comes in different shades will make your view of the world rich with colors, knowing and seeing other people’s “truths” will make your life rich with experiences.

Your thoughts?  What has been your experience with the different “truths” out there?

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8 responses to “Who owns the truth?

  1. Interesting! Definitely a very good thing to consider, though I wouldn’t apply the sense analogy to ‘the truth’: the wavelength of red light is always the same, we just each see it differently. There is one truth, but many interpretations and perceptions of it.

  2. globalcoachcenter

    Hi Daniel,

    Thank you for your comment. I guess my idea of using light was to use it as a metaphor to show how a straightforward thing such as “red” can be different to many people. So can any “truth” be straightforward to some and different to others.


  3. My example of views of truth was when i was in Yoshkar-ola for 3 months during the December 2004 elections. keep in mind that independent NTV had been absorbed by another oligarch beholden to the Russian Federation. While I keep an open mind and respect regional truths, I was disturbed to see gifts being given to voters, candidates speaking within 100 meters of the polling site and I witnessed supervisors telling teachers whom to vote for to keep their jobs. This was the same year that Yabloko had their candidates struck for not having 7% valid signatures when united Russia had similar problems and the commission of voters allowed that. I saw similar violations in Philadelphia during the 2008 Obama McCain elections here in America. so truth seems to be relative.

  4. Thanks for sharing,

    “Everyone lives in their own world. They build it almost unknown to themselves. What they let into the windows and doors of their being – Their Perception – trigger in a most crucial way their reactions to that world and becomes a powerful factor in shaping their lives.”


    There is only one world for us to discover and experience through our senses and inner consciousness, let’s enjoy the journey and share the many TRUTHS!

    Michel Gagne
    CEO Coaching-asia.com

  5. My son is an expatriate in China. My own blog
    “China Once, China Twice” http://ginnyroth.wordpress.com/
    is actually a story ( read from the bottom up). I’m the mother, describing my own experiences from the very start. I had to see for myself, where and how my son lived. He left the USA in 2/2008, he loves it there.

  6. Pingback: Expat reality… deconstructed in 3 steps « “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What was your expatriate experience like?

  7. Thanks for that post. I’ll be linking to your blog once again. I love it when we find small gems of wisdom where we least expect them. That National Geographic article was definitely one of them. And sometimes children see the world with more clarity than we ever can. This reminded me of the quote by Anais Nin “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” I need to be reminded of that regularly, especially working in the field of intercultural awareness! Your colors are not my colors. Indeed.

  8. globalcoachcenter

    Thank you, Anna Maria, for your comment and for bringing up Anais Nin’s quote. 🙂

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