Friday, February 01, 2008

Evolving the Truth

I’ve certainly done plenty of things in my lifetime that I regret – things that hurt people I love. These indiscretions took the form of words, deeds, silence, or even intentional absence.

As I look back now, especially on one troubling such incident, I realize that I’m no longer sure of the facts, that perhaps I have reinvented the whole thing to vilify the other person or at least to reduce it to no-fault status, somewhere along the way completely letting the truth slide away.

Is this just human nature, to continuously try to improve our own image, even long after something happened? Since none of the things I am talking about will ever be written down in anyone’s book, does it really matter, you might ask. But unfortunately many of them are permanently recorded in people’s minds and hearts.

This same phenomenon of reinventing history undoubtedly takes place on a larger scale as countries try to justify their aggression toward other countries or even toward individuals. It will be interesting to see how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq appear in the US-written history books in several decades. Will we have forgotten about the hunt for those elusive WMD’s that spawned untold destruction and loss of lives?

The real question is whether time actually does heal all wounds or whether it just distorts the reality of their origin.


Blogger Kristin said...

I love that about the movie Memento, the fact that the main character figures out how to let the truth slide away while getting what he wants. I think a lot of people let the truth slide away - some for self preservation, others for self promotion.

Time can dull the edges, though. On things done to us as well as those we've done.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

When I say I love that about Memento, I mean the fact that it's noted, not that he does it.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I couldn't get beyond the violence of that movie to understand the real message. I may have to watch it again. Everyone I know raved about it.

Time and truth are interesting companions as they wear each other down.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Memento is a favorite movie of mine.

Barbara - all of history is invented. Stories, all stories, reinvented over and over again. Orginally the Indians were 'savages.' Then after the movies Little Big Man they were peaceful, wise, earth based shamans. Now finally the history of the first Americans is gaining some balance, but is their history "true"? Has it ever been true?

Same goes with all our personal histories. You know I'm more and mroe convinced that no fault philosophy is the only "truth."

Learn from mistakes and move on. Love to you.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- How can we hope to learn from our mistakes when it has been proven time and again that we learn nothing from history?

11:30 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Ah, there you have it. I don't think we really learn from our mistakes, especially when we don't view them as mistakes from where we're standing or, as you make note of, we turn them into a different truth. So what is the good of experience? It is the feeling, the emotion we're after, the ecstasy, the relief, the satisfaction, and that's all individual-based.

You always post such thought provoking ideas.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I think most of us want to either forget about or minimize the hurts we have caused. Reinventing the truth allows us to live with our past mistakes. As for experience, it's the thing that writes the chapters of our lives, but it's not a very good teacher.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Memory is very malleable and events are often not as they are remembered. I often butt heads with people over memories.

False memories can also be impressed - and it does not require a great deal of effort.

I think most people adjust their memories so that they remember themselves as being in the middle of the pack. So if history gets rewritten, their memories get rewritten along with it.

Sometimes, older people, will complain how their memory is failing. They can remember the day they went to the carnival when they were 6 years old, but not what they had for breakfast. I always challenge them to tell me their memories of some other day at that age (What did you do the day after? What do you remember 17 days prior to that memory?). Of course, they never remember because it was not significant any more than their breakfast was.

Better not to have regrets.

People also consciously try to rewrite memories. On numerous occasions I have locked horns with people who insist on a different version of events from what I know to be true. When I was younger, I would very persistently insist on correcting them. I have since learned that some people want to save face by denying they did something. Personally, I don't see the point, what has been done, has been done; denying it is irrational. But ... I have mellowed as I've grown older and no longer press the point.

5:39 PM  

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