Describing Truth to Power

Over here, I pointed to the inexplicable connections with food, other cultures, etc, we can feel as adoptees.

This can be where supposedly scientific research comes in to provide a genetic link or some deep, prelingual connection with the womb where we gestated, or where religion comes in to say something about divine providence or reincarnation, as explanations for that sense of inexplicable connections. And this, because science and religion offer (to us) a culturally recognized conceit of validation that allows us to assert our experience even when it is not recognized by others. In other words, religion or science can give me a reason to insist my experience is true.

The mistake in all of this, I think, is in believing there can be proof, in believing that we can only demand or expect recognition of our experience from others when we present it in some one of the culturally accepted forms of validation that exist (e.g., science or religion). And this, because the most pernicious and destructive form of culturally accepted form of validation that exists is simply that a claim may be true.

So I ask: If the purpose is not “proof”, but instead “empathy” and “common cause”, does that change the parameters at all? Meaning, if I see a link between myself and a man named Majid in Iran, or between myself and adoptees who’ve gone through similar circumstances, at what point does our “bonding” become actually detrimental to what we might hope to accomplish via that bonding?

To experience empathy and common cause most assuredly change the parameters entirely. For all of the disparate points of view at TRE, even in the most vehement line-drawing between the “happy” adoptee and the “angry” adoptee, a recognition of the condition of “adopted” makes for a common cause amongst us.

So, then, “at what point does our ‘bonding’ become actually detrimental?”

When empathy and common cause become a basis for asserting what is true (never mind the further dogmatism of what must be true), there is when I suspect that we veer off into something actually detrimental to whatever we might hope to accomplish via such bonding.

Accepting the validity of “true” as an argument, then, we place ourselves at a disadvantage, because what the criteria for what will be accepted as demonstrated as “true” is determined and enforced by those in power. Alternatively, we can say, “My story is more desirable” or “My story more adequately fits the state of affairs; if you find fault with it, then improve it rather than deny it.

This still involves a matter of numbers, of adherents–those holding allegiance to “our” story as opposed to “power’s” story–but it avoids the loaded dice of an appeal to a form of validation (truth) that is determined by those who are opposed to “our” truth.

Truth only bending to what power acknowledges as true, instead of speaking truth to power, perhaps we should be speaking power to truth.

So how might we look at how our own want or need to prove that something (about adoption) is true to avoid generating detriments to whatever we might hope to accomplish as well?

One thought on “Describing Truth to Power

  1. I keep thinking about this topic. We seem to be at a point where “being heard” is enough for some; sharing “narratives” enough for others; receiving acknowledgment from the powers-that-be enough still for someone else. I find these all hugely problematic, personally.

    When I presented at the Adoption Initiatives Conference, I had two lead-in sections before I even started talking about my topic. One was the historical record of adoption. Two was the economic and political needs of Capital. This was a base “overlapping” framework from which to speak from.

    I’m not sure this is looking for truth so much as acknowledging what systemically needs to be erased for capitalism to take hold, and making sure that this “unsaid” is actually presented and stated.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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