29 November 2006

A single truth

In the Christian world, the debate over evolution versus creation is an interesting phenomenon. It seems to be a conflict over what is correct: science or religion; scientific proof or human faith. I mention ‘the Christian world’ here because the rest of the world, with its various other religions, is quite unperturbed by it. Perhaps, such a debate does not matter to them. And I wonder why. Why would it not matter to us where our beginnings lie?

I’m not sure if I have the answer to this question. But, I do know that, once in a while we all wonder who we are; where our ancestors and their ancestors came from. We do indeed wonder where our beginnings lie. We wonder how our universe materialised and how humans came into being. And I know that, on most occasions, we come away from our thoughts dissatisfied, unable to arrive at, or find, or discover, a suitable answer. Maybe that’s because we are always searching for one correct answer. We are seeking a single truth that would solve the puzzle of life instantly… and eternally.

But, why does it have to be one truth and not the other… or not another? Why should one truth override another? Why should a question have a single answer? Or, for that matter, why should many questions have one single answer?

When I had met Charles Handy, the famous British Management guru, he had narrated a story which was also mentioned in his book, ‘The Age of Unreason’: When I was a child and I solved a Maths problem, or answered a question from a History lesson, I checked the back of the book for a correct answer. If my answer matched the answer listed in the back of the book, I was right. It was that simple. It was only when I grew up that I realised that, in life, there isn’t always one correct answer. In fact, every problem has multiple – and sometimes distinctly varied – answers. [This is an approximation of our dialogue; I don’t remember the conversation exactly.]

At work, as a strategic marketing consultant, I am faced with this situation constantly. Every marketing problem has alternative solutions – several strategies that could solve the marketing problem equally well. Neither I nor my clients are one hundred per cent certain that one clear-cut strategy is the only correct solution – the absolutely correct answer – to a specific marketing problem. So, we go with what seems to be the best solution at that specific moment. And, this is something that marketers, businessmen and strategists battle with everyday of their lives. Whether they admit this to the world at large or not, this is a fact of life.

Perhaps, therein lies the truth we are seeking: that there is no single truth in life, but several alternatives to choose from. Maybe, in the Christian world, evolution and creation are simply two alternatives to life’s big question.

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