Posted by: mesabimisadventures | November 24, 2010

“What is Truth?” – Johnny Cash

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they sure do make a confused child.

As an inquisitive, eager-to-learn, eager-to-please kid, I would soak in everything my parents tried to teach me about the world, about life, and unfortunately, about the other parent.  I couldn’t understand how these two people that I trusted with all of my being could both be so incredibly wrong and apparently (according to the other), so incredibly stupid, about politics, parental decisions, and sometimes, simply, the color of the sky. 

How could either one be right if they were both wrong? 

My family used to joke that my great-grandmother “would vote for Lucifer as long as he was a Democrat.”  Her granddaughter, my mother, wouldn’t toe the line to that extreme but she has always shown me in her actions that she is most likely a Democrat (although I must say that I was a little worried she was going to vote for Chip Cravaack simply because she thinks he is “hot”).  My father, on the other hand, venerates Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and their minions.  Growing up with divorced parents who loathed one another and who had vastly different beliefs in how the world should work led to me never really believing in absolute truth. 

How could either one be wrong if they were both right?

My sister-in-law wrote me an email today and mentioned that I “really work hard to see all of the angles.” 

One would say the glass was half full.  One would say it was half empty.  I would think it was poorly engineered.

Today I received two emails from different environmental activist groups, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, pleading with me to help end mountaintop removal mining (their verbiage, not mine).  Several years ago, these emails would have had me all fired up, ready to shoot off an email to my senator/representative to end this practice.  But I can’t.  Not anymore.

I spent a week in West Virginia a month ago and was given the opportunity to see one of these often-maligned surface operations first-hand.  Not from an airplane, not from Google Earth, but from right there.  On their soil, looking out at their mountains, their valleys, their reclamation of the land that provided the coal that powered your iPhone, your flat-screen, your alarm clock that wakes you up so that you can go to work where more likely than not, no organized group exists to protest the way you make a living.

It’s really easy to only see the side of the environmentalists.  They have amazing marketing skills and they hit at our primal fears – degradation of air and water, impacts to our children and the domination of our world by corporate barons.  There is no nuance.  They do not dare to imply that there may be questions to the answers they are providing.  They implore me to “Save Our Mountains” from this “destructive type of mining [that] buries waterways, threatening aquatic life, wildlife and communities.”  There is no room for debate, because that would imply weakness and an incertitude.  No question of whose mountains they truly are, no question of whether some projects aren’t destructive, no question about the alternative to this coal. 

I stood where a mountain once stood and walked onto a plateau where a valley once was, but there was no sense of loss in my soul.  I saw a future in which the differences between the mined land and unmined will be imperceptible.  Chestnut trees blending into chestnut trees.  I saw hard-working folks who have provided for our comfortable way of life, only to have the majority of Americans vilify them, mock them as hillbillies and take their contribution to our society for granted.

How can both sides be right if they are both wrong?  How can they both be wrong if they are both right?

“What is truth?” – Johnny Cash

“Is there truth?” – me



  1. An interesting question! People always confuse ‘facts’ with ‘truth’. For instance, the ‘fact’ is the earth’s climate is changing. What is the ‘truth’ in this ‘fact’?
    A) Man is causing it by his actions on the earth
    B) Undersea volcanoes are warming the oceans
    C) The sun is at its 37 year cycle peak output
    I agree that there is NO rational discussion between groups anymore. It is far easier to demonize others than think these things out. My late Grandma Rigo said it best, “Everyone is entitled to their own damn fool opinion.”

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