Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Truth as social construct?

The whole notion of 'truth' as constructed by social understanding and practice came to my mind as I read the first reading of the day.  It is from the book of Genesis wherein Abraham sends away Hagar and her child to fend for themselves, at the explicit demand of Sarah.  Hagar and her child is then rescued by God.
That the whole passage is rife with core human emotions is undeniable: jealousy, helplessness, fear, anxiety, anger, distrust, joy...  But then the questions it leaves behind are quite taunting.  How can God permit such partiality, in letting Sarah and her offspring be called the 'chosen' one?  Or is it that they declared themselves to be the 'chosen' one?  God did not tell Sarah or Abraham to disown Hagar and her child.  In fact, God rescues Hagar and the wailing child.  He shows them the well from which Hagar offers her thirsty child water.

More complex is the question when Muslim claim inheritance from Abraham and as God's favoured ones when they claim to be descendants of Hagar's child.  So whom did God prefer?  Isaac or Ishmail?  Well, I believe God does not make pre-fixed preferential choices.  He is with those in need, those marginalised and the poor.  Every historical intervention in the Scriptures shows that. Even this one!  But humanly speaking, where does truth lie? (can't find an interesting article I read a few days ago about truth, alternative facts, lies ... and several references to Rorty).

Perhaps in those days the slaves and their offspring were totally dispensable.  That was the culture.  Today we can say that is totally inhuman to treat any human being like that. But we cannot be sitting in the armchair of 2017 and pass judgement on an event which happened in BC!  So that act done in those circumstances was right. Justifiable.  Or was it?  This is where the dilemma kicks in, that of truth as a social construct.  

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