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Simply the Truth
...but the truth is not so simple. In other sections of this web-presence we have met various theses about the truth. We have remembered the medieval privilege of the jester, who was the only one to approach the sovereign openly and laughingly tell the barefaced truth... without losing his head. We have learned that "children and drunks always speak the truth," and children's perceptions can be ruthlessly brutal and earnest, when it comes to simple and straight forward analysis about one's strengths and meeting one's earlier ambitions.
Moment of Truth. As a take-away, most of all we should stay true to ourselves and maintain a clear view, perceiving our environment and ourselves neither too sugarcoated nor too matter-of-factly or even negative. "Moment of Truth" is a song by the music group Survivor, which ever since the "Eye of the Tiger" has contributed to the soundtrack of the "Rocky"-boxer movie franchise. In particular, the lyrics impress with the New Year's resolution: "It's the moment of truth you're giving it all, standing alone willing to fall..."
Self-Deception Point. Another song focuses on a completely different facet. "Living The Lie" from Ronnie-James Dio's "Master of the Moon" album addresses all those, who live in a fantasy world, built on dishonesty, rather than just admitting the possibly painful truth to themselves. What if you end up discovering that you have been living a lie, that you have been going down the wrong path all the way long? Will you just continue on like a lamb to the slaughter, or will you try to achieve a turnaround, if it is not too late (and it may be never too late)? Will you brutally break open the facade of happiness and reveal the open wounds within to give them a chance to heal? Isn't it easier to keep telling yourself all is fine and go on until the end?
Friendly Fire behind Friendly Facade. Getting too close to a hidden truth - similar to Icarus getting too close to the sun - can be painful, if not lethal. "Truth Hurts" has been a reoccurring theme of the "Alias" TV show, full of revelations and unexpected turns. In order to hide something, some people remain silent as a grave, while others don't hesitate to use white liesto avoid confrontation and comfort others. Many people show an extremely friendly and non-committal facial expression in front of others, only to take the friendly face off, as soon as they turn away. Which may be part of maintaining a certain level of professionalism and keeping the necessary distance rather than getting too emotional. Whether or not they criticize the others heavily behind their back is another thing, especially if those had made an unexpected statement, which could be - lack of good will - interpreted as an inappropriate joke. But why bother an open confrontation, it may not be worth the energy anyway?
Daughter of Time. The statement "truth is a daughter of time" neatly sums it all up and - in case of contemporary history - can have quite some political background, as the following fairy tale demonstrates. Let's imagine a small country in Central Europe with no bigger problems than a controversy about forming government coalitions and the unique situation, where the third in elections (by some 400 votes only) became chancellor, spearheading a number of unpopular but necessary reforms, leading to a substantial reduction of the federal spent up to presenting a zero deficit budget. "Austria is (eats) world champion - Österreich isst Weltmeister", a fast food chain's campaign contained a photo montage of a controversial Austrian chancellor holding a fan scarf in times of a soccer world championship and excellent economic data.
Truth is sometimes obvious and in other cases invisible - as the Strauss monument in the Vienna City Park during restauration work.
Relativity and Relevance. Greek philosophers have already struggled with the concept of absolute truth and the faint picture that we can grasp down here. As by Plato (and our former Latin teacher, who had explained that those philosophers were usually drunk, which helped opening their minds), the truth on earth is merely a shadow of an absolute truth existing in the universe. Then again there may be relative truths, as circumstances and facts change over time. Which is quite easily demonstrated with the most simple statement "It is raining", which may be outdated in the very next moment. Einstein's theory of relativity may ring a bell here, even though based on the laws of physics rather than sociological relativism. As our thoughts, evaluations and feelings change over time, what we have said one day may be irrelevant sometime later.
Changing Coalitions. The perception of an event or a person may vary with distance. "Truth is a daughter of time" is a phrase, which a president of the Austrian parliament and "architect of the turnaround" would use to justify the cooperation of the conservatives with a right wing populists, the same he had just a few years earlier diagnosed outside of the "constitutional arch." For the end may justify the means, in this case a break out of a stalemate situation following elections at the turn of the millennium.
Diplomatic Isolation. The controversial center-right government had to immediately pay the price in form of isolation in bilateral relations. In the first half of the year 2000, Austria had to face diplomatic sanctions by other member states of the European Union. Obviously, fellow EU countries would not dare to perform similar actions towards a bigger member state like Italy in a similar situation shortly after. Despite all initial protest in and around the country following the social democrats' loss of power after no less than three decades, in the end worries for Austrian democracy were baseless. One of the first acts by the new government was the confirmation of restitution payments for victims of the NS regime during World War II.
Performance under Pressure. The Austrian government's work was criticized in country for its cruel but long term necessary speed-kill-reforms, including the change of the pension system and containment of national debt. At the same time it was acclaimed outside from those countries, which still had similar challenges ahead of them. Following economic success, "The Austrian Phenomenon (Das Ösi-Phänomen)" received positive media coverage in Germany in 2006, whereas a big brother is usually known for lecturing the little one. As by another book title, the effort behind achieving the political turnaround could be compared with a "Walk through the Gobi Desert." And so - in little - we all pay the price for our deeds, either openly or behind a facade, trying to keep the guilt and unhappiness of some moments from others. Even if our initial intentions were good as usual, there is often a bargain between positive consequences and downsides on the other hand, which we may not be able to avoid. For in the end we cannot be everyone's darling, really.
Landslide Quarrel and Victory. However, the conservative government coalition was destabilized by ongoing quarrel, as the junior coalition partner was torn between a populist opposition-course and the responsible government position. After a party internal dispute about postponement of the tax reform, the vice-chancellor and her team resigned and new elections were held. With the rhetorical question "Wer wenn nicht er - Who if not him?" as slogan for the election campaign in late 2002, the conservatives achieved a landslide victory with 42% of the votes. In 2005, the Freedom Party's leadership split off and formed the new "Alliance Future Austria", in short BZOe. A fake website immediately made fun of them as "Brutally Crushed Easter Eggs - Brutal Zermatschte Ostereier". After the tragic car accident of its controversial founder, it would be mostly absorbed again.
Promise in Troubled Water. In 2006, the conservatives lost the elections to the social democrats and the conservative leader resigned both as chancellor and party leader. The self-assured "da capo" was not to be, as the population dismissed the increasingly neo-liberal direction. Now promising the reversion of earlier reforms, the social democrats overcame their own crises after the near collapse of a trade union bank. When they failed to fulfilled these promises, in 2008 they step-by-step isolated and finally replaced their party leader. As Danzer used to sing: "Politicians are tremendous, especially before elections. After it all stays the same, you just have to pay more taxes." And with the late Austrian TV-journalist Robert Hochner: "Die Rache der Journalisten an den Politikern ist das Archiv - The revenge of the journalists to politicians is the archive." Or is it this website?
Coming to Terms with the Past. As the revelation of the full truth takes time, yet another side of the era would come to light as former government officials would be under investigation for possible irregularities in purchasing military jets and privatising public housing. In the maelstrom of a telecom bribery affair, in 2011 the former "turnaround chancellor" retired from his seat in the parliament. In times when southern European economies starting with Greece would struggle with enormous national debt, Austria's government of the years 2000 to 2006 is the more remembered for replacing toothless consensus politics by cost saving reforms that prevented the country from a similar fate. Asking different proponents of varying political viewpoints, one will find many truths about one and the same episode in contemporary history.
Another truth that changed over time and one of the biggest changes in people's mind set was to realize the value of protecting non-smokers and quarantine smoke pollution in thick-aired containers, which some refer to as death boxes. Over the years, the common perception of smokers has changed from cool trend setters to weak addicts.
Speak Truth... Run Fast! Speaking so much about truth, the old Slovenian proverb comes to mind: "Povej resnico, ampak zbezi takoj zatem - Speak the truth, but leave immediately after." Of course, there is also the Polish saying "A gdyby babcia miala wasy, to by byl dziadek - If grandma had moustache, she'd be grandpa." The word play is mostly used as a reply to people, who constantly speculate what could be, if... The German equivalent is: "Wenn das Woertchen wenn nicht waer', waer' mein Vater Millionaer - If there was no word 'if' there, my dad would be millionaire." More popular with the younger generation is the variation: "Wenn meine Oma vier Raeder haette, waere sie ein Omnibus - If my grandma had four wheels, she would be a grand bus."
Clear Responsibilities. How can we effectively reduce the amount of "good meetings" without carried out consequences or followed up action items as discussed, understood, expected, or just assumed? One instrument for structuring actions is the RACI chart. A matrix and an acronym for assigning four typical roles of responsibilities. R describes those responsible for doing the work, A is for those accountable for the underlying decision, C is for those subject matter experts that must be consulted and I is for those that just need to be informed about progress and kept on copy. A concept of segregating duties, which possibly goes right back to the old saying: "You carry the load, I'll carry the responsibility." Which is not to be underestimated either, by the way.
Time Component. "In God we trust, all others have to proof it" has become our guideline. Constant danger of fraud results in an increasing demand for transparency. Process documentation and regular audits attempt to minimize the risk of securtity breaches. When a few have betrayed the trust, there will be additional controls implemented for everyone. Huge costs and delays are associated with airport security checks, which no more and no less compensate for lack of trust. Obviously, a natural dose of suspicion helps, but how much easier would our daily journeys be, if we could rely on others more and benefit of the speed of trust. It may take some time to build trust, and even longer to regain lost trust. On the other hand, lots of things are possible, if you don't give up before you have even tried. A Chinese proverb presumably tells us not to keep postponing things, by using the excuse that it is too late now anyway: "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today." The German saying comes to mind: "Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen - Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today."
Standing Up for Values. As one has found his truth and is fully convinced of it, one may choose to defend the same against sceptics, people of a different opinion and opponents. In this context the saying "The more enemies, the more honour" is not meant as an excuse for an unadjusted group to define itself through its opponents. It rather describes the courage to follow your own path and stand in for your views instead of always going with the herd.