Rashomon Effect (Psalms 119:160)

When I review the daily news, I intentionally visit websites that are liberal, moderate, and conservative simply to obtain a range of political viewpoints. It is truly astounding how stories that are deemed newsworthy front page banners by some sites are completely ignored by the other sites or at best, given short shrift. What is the explanation for such gaping disparities in reporting an event?

Perhaps an answer can be found in an unlikely source. The Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s epic masterpiece from 1950, Rashomon, was the gripping story of the rape of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband as told from four different witnesses, all with contradictory accounts based upon their individual motivations and agendas. The movie received international acclaim and the premise of the movie with selective recollections of an event has been dubbed the Rashomon effect. 

It has been the subject of numerous scholarly works. It explains how legal testimonies are often conflicting depending upon the witnesses and can be unreliable. It also explains biases in the way events are reported by the media. 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there is only one truth. However in today’s inclusive society, truth is relative and everyone’s opinion is affirmed and given validity. Yet even the most liberal pundits unknowingly acknowledge that some standard must exist. When someone claims that one’s opinion or version of a story is wrong, they are making a judgment call and comparing it to their own standard. The irony is the simple statement that all truth is relative implies that their statement is self-refuting and their very statement is also relative and therefore cannot be trusted!

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

Psalms 119:160 (NKJV)

What do we make of the Rashomon effect? If we cannot trust the reliability of eyewitnesses, whom can we trust? We can only trust the source of all Truth. God’s Word is not relative nor does it change depending upon the circumstance. In this world of fleeting trends and fragile relationships, isn’t it comforting to know that we can always depend upon God for a honest and unchanging relationship?

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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