New Year pondering over truth
03:02 Feb 19, 2018  |  By
New Year pondering over truth

The conversations during family gathering and visiting of friends over the Chinese New Year holidays got us pondering over what is truth. 


Though Herman Basuki is pronouned in Indonesian or Javanese accent as Herr-mun to the Kuala Selangor side of father's family, it is prounounced as Her-men as in Herman monster to the mother's side.


There is a Chinese side to this former Bumiputera enforcement officer, who then took up law and subsequently proceeded into the field of banking and finance. Some family member goes around with orang putih name than their full Chinese name, thus addressed us as Her-men.  


The subject of truth came about upon hearing the gossips and conversations on current affairs, particularly politics at the family gathering and get-to-gather with old friends at mother-side's hometown in Ipoh. Since family gathering is not an appropriate time to get deepy involved n such serious discussion, the information being spread informally was let by with homourous jokes and playful sarcasm.


The manner some know-it-all speak with such confidence and gusto as though it is THE truth unknown to others and only he seemed privy to is scary. The scariest of all is when it comes to judging people as guilty of wrongdoing, corruption and crime. 


In the more extreme cases, such characters are likely to believe in their version of truth as though "truth is truth even if no one believes it and lies is lies even if everyone believes it." One can find in abundance in the political narratives of partisan commentators on social media. 


To the many faithful believers in religions, the only truth is divine truth. It is the message believed by the faithful brought by God through the chosen messengers. In this case, the messenger of their chosen path.


The all-knowing and perfect God would only be accessible to all information thus the truth. Such belief leaves the rest of us mortals as only knowing relative truth.


This subject is heavy and had been debated extensively over centuries in the field of philosophy, art and theology. Lets get by with the simple meaning of truth as defined in the online Oxford living dictionary as "the quality or state of being truthful". Refining further, the truth is "that which is true or in accordance with facts or reality" or "a fact or belief that is accepted as true".


If truth is "a fact or belief that is accepted as true", then religion as a belief is then subjected to the perception of the believer and what is accepted as truth.  


Without exploring deeper into the realm of faith, the definition of truth as "that which is true or in accordance with facts ore reality" is more interesting to ponder. It is safer to define truth in accordance to facts and reality than the pursuit of absolute truth. Even with facts and reality taken into acccount, it still revert back to faith/belief and perception.


In a court of law, what constitute fact is the evidences put forth to the judge and reality is the legal principles in the form of words and spirit of the law.


Even that it would differ on which side one is giving the view from. The prosecutor side will lean towards the truth that the accused is gulty and the lawyers on the defense side will lean towards the truth that the accused is innocent.


The advantage of the court is the existence of judges to decide and put a finality to the argument. So judges and courts are practical arrangements to decide on truth in this temporal world.


Naturally, anything man made has its strength and weakness. The truly guilty could get away with better lawyers or inavailability of evidences or ethical and moral shortcomings of legal principles. Nevertheless, the statistical probablity that the innocent is proven as guilty is low and seldom happen. In the uncommon situation where the innocent is wrongly judged as guilty, there is still several levels of appeal available.


Since only God knows the real and actual truth, while mortals in this temporal world would never really know, then it is improper to speak loudly as judge, jury and executioner without exceptions and caveats. The sensible way to form a view and express an opinion is to rely on courts and other forms of formal determinant as reference indicators of truth.


Some can claim election and referendum is also a determinant of truth. Let the people decide, they say. However, it too has its shortcomings as it not based on facts or reality. The majority or masses has the authority to decide which is their preference as right and appropriate though often the case maybe, they may have not chosen the right and appropriate option.


As said, it is still based on preference, thus perception over facts contribute to the considerations.  Court of law still offer the better choice over court of public opinion in determining truth rationally.  


Truth shall set you free says the Bible. But the reality on earth is truth could only be decided rationally by honest judges - not the lawyers from both side in a court of law.


Belated Chinese New Year greetings.