Truth

by Tom Swift

“When someone says something, don’t ask yourself if it is true. Ask what it might be true of.” That is Ross Levin, an executive in the local financial community, quoting author Michael Lewis quoting Nobel economist Daniel Kahneman, as found in an article titled “Nuanced Thinking Can Help You Plan” in the business section of Sunday’s StarTribune. This line struck because I have been reminded in ways subtle and not repeatedly in recent weeks that we always have a choice about how we are going to think in response to life events, large and small. The default is guttural; it’s black and white; it’s wrong and right. So many other options exist! There is an advantage and opportunity in just about every moment, if we look for it, if we choose to look for it. You can pick up an object or even an utterance from more than one handle. That is, opportunity exists to understand and to deepen our capacity to understand. Here I think mostly about conversations. If someone says something, the initial reactions usually are, as Kahneman suggests, about whether what is being said is correct. Yet truth, especially when humans are expressing themselves, is often an nebulous, or at least nuanced, thing. To settle on an initial reaction is to end the exploration before it begins. But to be open to what something might be true of is not only the chance to increase one’s depth of perspective but also, it seems, a way to detach. You take things less personally and that is seldom a bad thing.