We are currently hurtling through space at an absurd speed, spinning with such vehemence that it boggles the mind to even comprehend. Unbelievable though it may seem to those of us comfortably ensconced at desks or swimming in the ocean or climbing a mountain or any other task banal or sublime, the fact of our revolution and rotation is verifiable.
There are those who choose to not believe in the veracity of science and I respect their views as I choose to believe that they respect mine. But to humans who do subscribe to the gospel of rationality and logic, the factual underpinnings of our ability to exist on Earth are a tremendous comfort. I do not wish to awake one day and find that my faith in gravity was misplaced. In this regard, facts matter.
Our politicians and business leaders have long demonstrated an uncanny knack for distorting facts or simply wholly absconding with them. Statesmen seek power; capitalists chase profit. To them, facts are an inconvenient obstacle to their desired outcome. As such, they posit those alleged truths that will allow them to reach their stated goal. Data is easily manipulated, as are accounting records; the facts serve those that control them.
Of course, the ability to tailor facts to a predetermined end is present in scientific research as well. There is certainly corruption in that sphere to some degree. But, by and large, scientists are in the game for the discovery of knowledge itself and not fame and fortune. In that way, the conspiracy that the moon landing was faked is less compelling than the notion that your local representative took a kickback from an oil company to proffer alleged evidence that fracking is not dangerous.
A tortured and contentious relationship with objective facts is usually posited as a negative. Yes, I would strongly prefer that these swindlers refrain from their misguided and/or evil machinations. But to lament the moral bankruptcy of a Congressperson or corporate hawk is to engage in an exhausting redundancy whose only likely outcome is insanity.
Instead, I take a constructive view, not as surrender to low-principled buffoons, but because I prefer to look for the silver linings in the clouds of national doom. As a professional problem solver, I find the examples of politics and industry to be extremely instructive. In the context of resolving disputes, it is outcomes, and not facts, that matter.
Theoretically, any dispute that finds its way to court is based on warring versions of facts, facts that are reasonably susceptible to multiple interpretations. It would therefore notionally be an abomination if one side simply invented facts to suit the result that they desired. There are supposedly safeguards built into the legal system that dissuade and prevent such a horrendous course of events. It will come as no surprise that this conjuring of facts happens all too frequently. To paraphrase that great paragon of virtue George Costanza: it’s not a lie if you will yourself to believe it.
But the principled litigant need not concern oneself with this fatal flaw of the legal system. Mediation offers an opportunity to put aside the efficacy of facts, to embrace the possibilities of a result that simply acknowledges the realities of the process and not the events that gave rise to the dispute. If one can ignore the understandable allure to have the settlement tied to reality, then getting to an end with which one can live becomes not only possible, but potentially life-altering.
Otherwise, the alternative is to put the distorted and distortable facts in front of a judge or jury and lose all command over their import. It is a great choice, if you dislike predictability and love gambling.