Everything can’t be true: Commentary on Objective and Subjective Truths

I was always taught growing up that I have the capacity to be wrong. In my university days I had one professor tell me that my opinion is “worthless in the realm of research unless it is substantiated with something. No one wants your tiny door when someone has already built an entire house.” That professor went onto being my favorite, who I spent the next few years studying slave narratives and history with. While those statements hurt at times, they helped me develop an understanding of truth, research and scholarship. Jstor became my best friend as I spent hours going through various writers and academics in the fields of post-colonialism, slave narratives, and other subjects. I emailed academics personally, scholars of their respective fields and held conversations learning their thoughts and principals on the subjects. I read views that aligned with my own and others that didn’t. This process was the primary cause for my development and growth.

I thought these concepts were understood by all. I was under the impression that most people realized that a person speaking without being informed or out of context isn’t a person to be listened to, but it doesn’t seem that is the case. Take the case of Kanye West (who in all honesty I’m giving the benefit of the doubt), all across my timeline there are people arguing various positions, some for him, some against. Most are just taking emotional stances or using his statements to make political points, or even worse, to prove that blacks really are just a lazy bunch of buffoons unwilling to rise. The irony is that the latter is usually a point indirectly made by whites, either the descendants of slaveholder themselves or those who would have enjoyed freedom during those times.

The issue I have today is that we can’t seem to understand the philosophical differences between objective and subjective truth. Today, subjective truth reigns supreme. Everyone is always correct, there is no wrong answer and no one needs education to be educated (I do not believe that our current Highschool to University model is the only way to be educated either). These ideologies when grouped together create the greatest monster known to man, ignorance. An ignorance drenched in pride and arrogance whereby every human being is able to say as they wish with full conviction and confidence that they are correct, even if objectively they aren’t.

I’ve been reflecting on the fact that I’ll be teaching a class in a month on theology back in the states. Prior to me embarking on teaching this class I took more than a year of study on the subject. I then enrolled into a class in the English language on the same subject and book to ensure I didn’t miss any important points (as the first set of classes were all in the Arabic language). I memorized the text as well to review it on the go. Now I’m reviewing the notes and recordings of the classes again in both Arabic and English, all of this before I make a single statement on the subject. Why? Because in my role as a teacher I have to ensure that I myself know the subject inside and out so as not to speak out of context or to misinform those who I have been charged to teach to.

The same can be said of artists and creators, the same can be said for parents, spouses, and just anyone who wishes to speak on a subject. You’ve got to know what you’re talking about before you speak. Emotion has a place (especially within the spiritual realm) but so too does the intellect and reason.

Facts exist regardless of how bad some wish they didn’t. May God allow us to see the truth as truth and enable us to follow it, and the falsehood as falsehood and enable us to turn away from it.

Ameen.

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