What if the truth rocks your world upside-down? What if it makes you question EVERYTHING?
Sometimes the truth literally sets people free.
Even more than untimely justice, I find exoneration to touch such a deep, primal cathartic bone in me that I’m a sucker for any wrongly-accused-themed movie, book or TV show. I’m obviously not the only one because there are quite a lot of such movies:
- The Fugitive
- Double Jeopardy
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Ghosts of the Mississippi
- The Green Mile
- In the Name of the Father
- Paradise Lost
- After Innocence
- 12 Angry Men
There’s a point in many of these stories when there’s a family member or even an uninvolved bystander who has an epiphany regarding the truth. That person then has a very difficult choice to make…Should they help reveal the truth? Should they get involved and how involved should they become?
Sometimes when there’s no crime involved, the truth can still figuratively set us free. Again, it requires a great deal of courage but I believe it’s worth it. I like the following efforts as examples of working towards establishing the truth of long-established wrongs:
- The Innocence Project is an organization started as a law school assignment at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University that works to use DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly accused.
- The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar is a This American Life story detailing how one woman found the truth about her grandfather to be unsettling to some and vindication for others.
The reaction of some people to this sort of thing amazes me. About 20 years ago I remember an incident where a Swiss bank employee had found documents in the shredding room that revealed Jewish assets kept in the bank from WWII. Guess who was vilified for this revelation? The bank employee who came forward! I was teaching ESL at the time and had many Swiss students…and they hated the guy. Not long after that, the Monica Lewinski scandal broke and Linda Tripp became the bad friend. Today Julian Assange is the demon for revealing government secrets. I’m sot saying they’re heros without character flaws but the revelation or admission of the truth isn’t evil in my book.
Consider the movie, The Truman Show.
When Truman approaches the final door of his constructed reality, Christof announces, like a voice from god, the truth behind Truman’s artificial life. Truman then asks Christof, “Was nothing real?” to which Christof responds, “You, you are real.”
I had to go through a similar conversation with myself when I left Mormonism…What about all those “spiritual experiences?” Was none of it real? I was one of the Mormons who had spiritual experiences, the burning in the bosom and emotional connections to the “gospel”. But upon reflection, I realized that those experiences indeed happened because I made them happen… not because of some external being or some universal supernatural energy. They came from me and I’ve been able to recreate similar experiences since leaving the myth behind. They happened, but they don’t mean what I was taught that they meant. They don’t indicate the truth of something.
I had to, in essence, exonerate God, tell the truth, and assume full responsibility for my personal spiritual experiences. They were real because I am real. I am enough to experience them too. No need for the external trappings of “worthiness”, “priesthood” or “ordinances.”
It feels good to let an imaginary God off the hook for everything in my life. The truth feels so much clearer, peaceful and powerful.