Calling It As You See It Doesn’t Make It So

“The truth is usually somewhere in the gray turbulent eddies set in motion by the mixture of black and white.”

― Ken Poirot

When it comes to what’s true, sometimes it’s all too obvious. Sometimes it’s not, and not a few people say that puts it in a “gray area” where one can believe whatever one wants. Some people go even further – as does the author of the quote above – by saying there is no such thing as absolute black or white at all, when it comes to “truth” everything is a shade of gray, open to individual choice.

Last evening, my wife joined me in watching one of the semi-final matchups being played in the Little League World Series on tv. At one point in the game there was a play where the runner slidding in at home plate was called “out” by the umpire. It was a very close call, I saying “out” and she saying “safe”. From the camera angle presented, it wasn’t obvious where the truth lay.

But one thing was certain, it was either black or white, there could be no gray area there, the runner was either out or safe.  Fortunately, Little League officials tape these games from multiple camera angles and offer instant replay on close calls, available to the umpires and team managers should there be a challenge to a call. And the tv network shows their audience the same replays from all the different camera angles that the officials use to make a final decision. 

As we watched the multiple camera shots it became quite evident what happened in that split second between where the runner’s foot touched the plate and the catcher’s mitt, holding the ball, touched the runner’s leg. The mitt was a nano-second short of contact, now obvious to me and everyone else. The umpire changed his call, the runner, in truth, had been safe.

And I had an epiphany, one of those “Ah Ha!” moments, when I realized something in what one of the game’s announcers could have meant when he had previously said, “Baseball is like life, and life is like baseball.” He may have been alluding to many things, such as the need for teamwork, practice, or whatnot for success, but what I now knew was, as in making a judgement call as to what is true or false, right or wrong, that it’s a matter of perspective, finding the truth only by seeing it from different angles and not just accepting what appears obvious at first glance.

The truth or lie in everthing is either black or white, there is absolute truth or lie, there is no middle ground shade of gray. The problem is, that at times, we simply can’t see from different vantage points and, as a consequence, decide what’s true because of our singular perspection of things. We decide something is true even if, in fact, it is a lie.

Too bad real life, unlike sports, doesn’t come with instant replay.

Or we aren’t thinkers enough – or take the time and trouble – to look beyond our own belief to another’s belief to find the truth.

Or be willing to change what we believe in the presence of evidence to the contrary.

– Bill


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