Truth. What is it? As my years slip by, I am less able to answer that question, never more so than in recent years with the political unrest we face around the globe.
But questioning that word began early for me because I’m an immigrant, twice over, and the country where I began, Scotland, was essentially a conquered country, which many have forgotten.
I was in Primary 5, when one form of truth dawned. Up to that point, we’d studied British history from ancient times. We learned that, on the death of Elizabeth I, James VI of Scotland became James I of England. We’d had arithmetic, so I asked. “James VI of Scotland? What happened to James 1-V? At that moment, I realized that we’d not learned British history, but English history because England dominated. The seeds of suspicion were sown and they’ve never left.
Look at an atlas. You don’t need the verso of the title page or the colophon to know immediately where that atlas was published. Just look at the first map. It will be of the country of its origin.
As years progressed, I learned other telltale signs of history gone awry. We spent little time in my Scottish school on the American revolution (which we called the U.S. insurrection). We didn’t win. Later, in Canada, we spent many weeks on the War of 1812, which I later discovered was barely mentioned in the U.S. Guess who won?
And so it went. And so it goes. We talk in the U.S. about the Vietnam War, but the Vietnamese call it the American War. Nothing has changed.
Through the centuries, children have been taught through warped lenses. The question isn’t about truth and lies. It’s about angles, slants, lenses. How many can we hold up to our eyes? How many fall to the dust?