No one gets up in the morning with the thought: “Harm is my purpose, I’ll do as much evil today as possible”. I fundamentally do believe in that. Not even Hitler, not even “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-But-It-Rhymes-With-Gluten”. Fucked up childhood, a walking demo of extreme psychiatric disorders, with access to too much power – sure. Intentional evil – doubtful. Making your country “great again” (I am not even kidding here) by attempting to restore as many former USSR borders as possible by any means necessary. What’s a fleeting human life (or a million even?) against the lasting greatness of a powerful empire? And, you get to go down in history as the one who brought the glory back to your country? For the post-Trump America this narrative might ring a bell. As sick as it is, the logic makes sense from such perspective.
I start with this not to seek pardon or excuse for a deranged, out of his mind, sick from power dictator and his actions. I start with this because to me, this is one of the many facets of the truth. What is truth?
“Truth is the first casualty of war” has been kicked around in all camps. What is truth? What any country’s official media say? What “independent” media say? Are they actually unbiased? Is there a global consensus on “is covid real or is it a worldwide conspiracy” dilemma?
For those in the conspiracy camp, conspiracy is truth. Because when you type any of your symptoms into google, the diagnosis inevitably leads to a high probability of cancer.
For those with no access to outside perspectives, “Russia is victorious over Ukrainian neo-fascists while Ukrainian nationalist gangs are brutalizing Kyiv” and “Ukrainian military is defecting” (actual headlines) is truth. Because when you type in “current news Ukraine” into the Russian search engine, your top search results are that.
For those whose lives are shattered, “Russian people should hold their government accountable, therefore Russians are just as guilty as their leader” is truth, justifiable, valid truth. Because when my family dies at the hand of your military, your people, why does yours get to live allowing this to happen?
For those with a more global perspective, “Our lives are fucked for a very long time, we are filled with helpless rage and shame; internal citizen control, arrests, and brutality against anyone who as much as peeps “No War” makes families scared for the lives of the loved ones and their own”, is real, scary truth. Because, if your family dies, how could I sacrifice mine?
For those whose care for their constituents wellbeing and safety depends on external resources, careful treading wins over decisive antagonistic actions, and that is an understandable truth.
The truth is, there are many truths, and they are all very, very real. Truth is reality, where everyone has their own reality, which can be very similar to others, or extremely different.
It is only when we have an honest look at truths other than our own (and only after we have had a deep look into our own truths, with honest eyes), that we can start to get a glimpse of hope.
(We did manage to arrive at a common denominator in a number of realities: sun rises in the east, life is objectively better without wars, climate crisis is real. Well, maybe we still need to work on that one.)