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Can Fiction Help Us Find Truth (with a capital T)?

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett is a perfect example of the Truth with a capital T that waterfall-fiction-001fiction conveys in ways that nonfiction cannot. In the closing pages of this crazy novel, where… Well, I won’t tell you how to do away with mythical figures, such as the Hogfather who wears a red robe and drives a sleigh pulled by 4 pigs to bring presents to all… You get the picture. Through this story, though, Pratchett manages to reveal the truth about the crucial nature of human beliefs. Yes, beliefs can be as important facts. And he has Death point it out. (Yep, Death is a character, if you’re unfamiliar with Pratchett’s work. Death always speaks in capital letters in Pratchett’s Discworld…)

STARS EXPLODE, WORLDS COLLIDE, THERE’S HARDLY ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANS CAN LIVE WITHOUT BEING FROZEN OR FRIED, AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT A…A BED IS A NORMAL THING. IT IS THE MOST AMAZING TALENT

And why is that so amazing and important?

TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCEY, AND YET–YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point–” queries Death’s granddaughter. MY POINT EXACTLY…

Truth and Justice

Yep, the world isn’t naturally just. The wicked live, the innocent die, the wrong people sometimes get ahead. Unless humans impose THEIR beliefs in fairness and justice and mercy, which are after all created and not naturally in existence, we are doomed to live in a world spiraling toward true injustice. Thus, beliefs can be Truth, fiction can convey Truth, and beliefs are not inferior to facts!

Powerful truth. And it’s easier and more profoundly conveyed through a story of the disappearance of belief than through mere strings of words.

Jane Kise

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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