It would seem that one of the great debates of my lifetime has been that of absolute vs. relative truth? Thanks to Rudy Giuliani’s interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press last Sunday, we all get to revisit the concept yet one more time. I believe the record is pretty clear that the President’s entire campaign and presidency have both been held up by a very intentional and relative grasp of the the truth. Truth is to Trump whatever he deems it to be in the moment. Mr. Giuliani’s words should surprise no one.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is no exception to this idea that the truth is not the truth. Of course he doesn’t actually realize that he sees truth as relative vs. absolute in most of what he says too. He seems to have little self-awareness that his truth is as relative to his perspective as anyone’s. In a speech he gave at the National Catholic Prayer breakfast in May, he strongly challenged the audience he was speaking to to fight against moral relativism or the idea that truth is relative.
…Ryan, who is Catholic, lamented at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast what he sees as a deepening sense of “identity politics and tribalism” in the country, as well as a trend of “moral relativism” that is becoming “more and more pervasive.”
Is it just me, or was Speaker Ryan high on something and not able to think clearly? He doesn’t seem to be aware that what he’s saying actually comes directly from his identity as a Catholic. Being Catholic is being tribal. Being Republican is being tribal. Being German. Being Jewish…um…we are a nation of immigrants and we will see things as true that really are not true for all of us living here. It seems to me that he genuinely believes that Catholics are exempt from identity politics and tribalism? Is he really saying that in order to stop being morally relative, Catholics should combat culture with Catholic Social Doctrine implying that everyone should adopt it? How is Speaker Ryan’s truth not tribal or relative to being Catholic?
Objective truth is truth. Black is black, white is white etc. The force of gravity is a truth we cannot deny. We need oxygen to be able to live. This is factual truth. In Giuliani’s situation, he isn’t really talking about whether a conversation did or did not happen because right now it is simply, Trump says one thing, someone else says the opposite. The truth isn’t provable at this point in that situation.
If we’re honest, humans, no matter how confident we think we are in our perception of what is genuinely true, all too often we are assuming truth simply because it is what we know. That’s what is meant by truth being relative. Here’s an example. Today Dean was told that he ate his banana the wrong way. He was told that monkey’s hold it with the stem and break off the top. He does the opposite. The person who told him this is from England and that’s the way it’s done there. Is he right, is it true that there is just one right way to eat a banana? Of course not. It is his perception of reality and it is true for him but it isn’t necessarily the truth.
Enough for today…