To tell you the truth, I just don't know.

Can the same be said for truth? Is the truth different from person to person? After listening to this podcast I've had to readjust and reexamine how I think about truth. Based on who you are, what you've come from and I think even what you want, the truth about any given subject can vary greatly from one person to the next. Then that raises the question does it even matter? Does it create problems if the truth for me is different from your truth?
I'm going to stray from our pod cast pick of the week and reference another podcast I listened to just yesterday from This American Life called Send a Message, in it there is a story about a man who finds tapes in his father's house after his father passed away. They were recordings of phone conversations the two of them had had for years and years after the parent's divorce. The man in the story always remembered that he had been a sort of advocate and protector for his mother, always standing up strong against his father. That was his truth, how he saw himself - however when he listened back to the tapes he discovered that he didn't sound nearly as forceful or protecting as he'd remembered himself being, in fact he often didn't say much - there were long pauses and subdued responses. Does that make what he'd thought about himself a lie? The truth for him at the time was that he was protecting his mom but I'm sure the truth for his dad would have been much different. Two people in the same situation, and their truths were far from the same.
Okay, back to Radiolab and our scheduled podcast of the week. In the first segment a photograph was discussed at length. Was it staged? No one seemed to have a good explanation for years and years experts went back and forth on whether or not it was a real or a fake. In the end it was decided that the photographer had come across this deserted road and decided to move cannonballs from the surrounding areas onto the road to attain this shot:
The Valley of the Shadow of Death by Roger Fenton 1855
Now, to me, I would have looked at those cannonballs on the road and said "yep it's faked." I mean look how spaced out they are, it's like they're marching in formation down the road to the next spot they're going to attack. But there was something said about this photograph that really stood out to me - is this photograph a lie if was seeking an emotional truth? The truth of how it felt for the people in this area at the time of this war? And that got me thinking to even simple photographs taken throughout someone's life, how many of them are really the truth of what they are feeling or going through? Aren't most photographs staged? We're told to smile, say cheese, and no matter how we are feeling at that particular moment all anyone will see when they look at it later is someone, or a group of people, who are pleased as punch to be blowing out candles, taking a hike, saying goodbye at the airport, carving pumpkins, leaving for college...etc...etc...etc...Looking back on those photographs the people in them will remember what they were feeling in that moment but one photograph could contain multiple truths in it depending on who is doing the looking.
Am I making sense? I think what I'm coming to is that truth maybe is not the same thing as fact. I was hollowed out in the second part of the podcast while listening to the facts about the "yellow rain" that fell in Laos during the Cold War. I don't really want to discuss it much because it seems to me as though there isn't a good explanation for what happened to those people during that time and it seems like something horrifying has been swept under the rug with an inadequate answer. The truth of what the Hmong were feeling and experiencing is not the truth that American scientists decided upon to be the facts. I sat on the bus listening to this interview and almost broke down in tears with the translator as she realized her truth was yet again going to be out-powered by a truth decided on by a country more powerful than hers.
Truth and Fact, are they one and the same? Or are facts the bare bone details with truth the ligaments, cartilage and tendons that hold them together - a little more flexible and movable? I don't know, I don't have the answers for you but hopefully you have some for yourself. I am now going to go check out what Rachael had to say on her very truthful blog Just Me Actually and I think you should do the same.

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