I’ve been thinking the past few days about much-discussed issues. The two that have instigated this musing are the creation vs evolution debate and and racism in America. I think one of the reasons both of these issues have become so temendously sensitive and heated is because it is so easy to frame them according to each side’s preexisting bias.
When exploring topics that involve such a volume of evidence, it is almost impossible to present an unbiased argument because of the process of choosing supporting evidence that becomes necessary for feasible discussion. It would be impossible to present every fact or piece of evidence in any setting or conversation. In the same way, it’s impossible to present every nuance/facet of a biography or historical happening. To do that would take the amount of time that it took for the entire person to live, or the entire event to occur (many times over in this case because of the number of people and perspectives involved).
A story cannot be abridged and still be conveyed in its entirety. To shorten or remove elements of a retelling or an argument is to change it, however subtly. To make the accurate sharing of information, arguments, or perspectives possible they must be somehow shortened, but not skewed by the teller’s choice of details or nuances to include or remove.
Therein lies the rub. How do we make history communicatable but not inaccurate or biased? How do we accurately reflect the nature of an event or story when we can only communicate a certain number of its snippets? How do we choose what to communicate when any choice to leave in or take out parts of the story must necessarily stem from our own personal experience, bias, and decisions about what parts of the story are relevant or important?