What does “truth” mean?
This is an age-old question that has kept philosphers wondering for literally millennia. We can look at dictionary definitions, which boils it down to a constricted word easily bound by language; a noun meaning the quality or state of being true. In accordance with fact, or “reality.”
Well now that opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms. What is reality? Who defines it, and what does reality mean? Does reality bend to perception? Is reality objective? And if it is objective, what is it objective to? Is there an omniprescence or higher benevolence that we can compare reality to, to ensure that our reality is aligned with what is true?
These questions get some hung up on details that are difficult to overcome. We can find debates that date back literally thousands of years ago. As I’m sure, most of us abide by Plato’s meaning of truth. Plato argued powerfully in favor of the objectivity of values such as truth, good, and beauty. Objective values are those that lie outside of the individual and are not dependent upon her/his perception or belief.
Or we can follow the school of thought of Soren Kierkegaard, who argued that “truth is subjectivity” and “subjectivity is truth.”
Hell, there is a full podcast between American neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris and Professor of Clinical Psychology Jordan B. Peterson where they attempt to discuss the origins of truth for nearly two hours. In the end, the two didn’t really get anywhere, and the question remained, “what is truth?”
Basically, does truth abide by your perception, or does it abide by an objectivity? This is difficult to unpack for some. My father always told me while I was growing up that there were three sides to every story; his side, her side, and the truth. And boy, does that ever seem to ring true in the ongoing situation that faces Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justin Trudeau, and the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Just today, after the fallout from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony in which she all but crucified the PM and his Office, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stated that Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke “her truth” during her testimony before the Commons justice committee in Ottawa.
Freeland states that Trudeau would “never exert inappropriate pressures” on Wilson-Raybould, which would be in direct contrast of what she stated Wednesday. Believing all women only extends so far, apparently.
Freeland appeared on CBC’s Ottawa Morning on Thursday and was asked directly and right off the bat who she believe; Justin Trudeau, or Wilson-Raybould.
“I believe she spoke, as she said she wanted to do, her truth,” said Freeland.
“Having said that, I am clearly of the view that the prime minister would never apply improper pressure, that the prime minister has always been clear about the unique role of the attorney general, and would respect that.”
Did Jody Wilson-Raybould speak from “her truth,” or from “truth truth”, so to speak? Was it her speaking from her angle, or speaking from what she knows is true. In her conclusion, she stated that “Canadians can judge for themselves” as we all “now have the same frame of information.”
Wilson-Raybould stated that it was always in her view that the Attorney General of Canada “must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principals that are the basis of decisions,” and “always willing to bring truth to power.”
From what Wilson-Raybould herself has said, it does not sound like a woman trying to bring to light her experience, but it sounds like a woman telling us what she knows is true, and trying to honor the virtue of truth.
Mrs. Freeland’s comments come off as dismissive.
Wilson-Raybould continued, noting that the history of Crown/Indigenous relations in Canada has a checkered past, in which the rule of law was not “respected.” That Canada has not always upheld “foundational values such as the rule of law in relations to Indigenous peoples,” speaking from her own experience as an Indigenous woman.
“So what I pledged to serve Canadians as your minister of justice and attorney general, I came to it with a deeply ingrained commitment to the rule of law, and the importance of acting independently of partisan political and narrow-interest in all matters.”
Her last words before concluding her testimony are what truly depict the values of Wilson Raybould.
“I was taught to always be careful what you say, because you cannot take it back. I was taught to always hold true to your core values and principals, and to act with integrity. These are the teachings of my parents, my grandparents, and my community. I come from a long line of matriarchs, and I’m a truth teller. In accordance with the laws and traditions of our big house. This is who I am, and this is who I always will be. Gila’kasla, thank you.”
It’s up to Freeland if she wants to dismiss what Wilson-Raybould is saying as just “her truth” rather than an objective retelling of a political drama gone off the rails. That is her choice. As Canada watched, we knew that Wilson-Raybould wasn’t just speaking “her truth,” but was holding truth to the highest power possible.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.