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Jane Davis on a Separate Truth for Each of Us

Jane Davis in Half-Truths & White Lies (Random House: April 9, 2009), p. 94-5.

The other thing that I have become increasingly aware of is that there is not just a single version of events called the truth. Life is not nearly as simple as that. Each of us brings to the table our own beliefs, backgrounds and experiences and we all have the potential to interpret a single event differently. One person’s experience is a truth of sorts, but it is never the whole story. There is a separate truth for each one of us. The brain is such an incredible organ that if we repeat things often enough, we come to believe them. It can be the use of the phrase, ‘I’m not a good sleeper,’ that creates the insomniac, the repetition of prayers that creates faith. After almost thirty year of working in the legal profession, I have lost confidence in a system that looks for a single set of facts by relying on the evidence of others based on something as elastic as memory, and labels it as truth. The plain fact is that I wouldn’t want to be judged by twelve of my peers, let alone by a higher being. Let’s hope that if there is a God, he takes a greater interest in what is in our hearts than our actions, otherwise I fear we’re all for the high jump.

The story that I told Andrea as she recovered in hospital was a truth of sorts. One over-simplified version of a potted history of what was a very complicated relationship. It was certainly the truth that I though she need to hear. There are things that are better left unsaid. I honestly believe that it is unfair to unburden yourself on another soul when you have no idea how they will deal with that information — if they are capable of processing it at all. I grew up in a decade where free love was supposedly acceptable (although I saw little of it) but talking about feelings was completely foreign. Besides, it would have been quite inappropriate for me, as her godfather, to tell her any more.