January 27, 2016

Contextual Truth vs. Absolute Truth: How do We Know that We Know?


There are many things that seem so certain—beliefs, values, judgements—that we make about things that should always be or should never be, broad statements that we so often spout as knee-jerk responses taken as truth.

But can we ever really see the full side of every story? How do we know we see the truth and not just our habituated patterned preferences?

There is a point of absolute knowledge, the only complete vantage point and it is not ours, it belongs to God. The absolute truth—the full multidimensional truth that sees all things, hears all things, knows all things for all time—cannot be contained, cannot be owned nor perhaps even adequately described or defined.

When we are quick to judge, to pronounce our culturally contextual morality as the absolute is often rooted so deeply within us that we fail to understand what may be different situations than our norm. For every time I have ever said with certainty that something “should not” ever be so or that something “always should” be so, I have been proven wrong by the particularity of a context that I simply didn’t understand.

We cannot judge others by the contextual standards of our own lives. We can only strive to live a more peaceful life for ourselves.

Was it wrong of me to take a picture in front a horse drawn carriage in Manila? Many people certainly said so, many thought the horse was mistreated, enslaved and malnourished. I’m not a horse expert, but that’s not what it looked like in person. And what about the horse’s keeper (who seemed like a nice, hard working person) or the way of life in Manila that supports the horse-drawn carriages?

I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but when I asked my hosts what iconic symbol of the Philippines this was their top pic. I wanted to celebrate a piece of Manila, that’s all.

Cows roam free in India but they are also working as dairy cows for families. I believe in the humane treatment of animals and the humane treatment of all human beings. Whether this means animals can never work in our society, I’m not so sure.


Author: Kino Macgregor

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Author’s own

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