“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.”
― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
I wrote here the other day about how, in this post-truth world, the public chooses what it wants to believe, irrespective of pesky little details like facts. Such people are commonplace in the world of family law, believing what they want about the family justice system, oblivious to the reality. As I explained, there are some lawyers who devote a great deal of their time to trying to put these people right, labouring under the misconception that if you explain the truth of why the family courts do what they do, then the public will understand. Of course, that is not the case, as we live in a post-truth world. The truth is of no importance – the only thing that is important is what you choose to believe.
But does all of this matter? Does it matter that there are some who believe falsehoods in relation to the family justice system? After all, the public is ignorant about lots of things. Many still think the Earth is flat, that we didn’t land on the Moon and that Princess Diana was killed by aliens from the planet Zarg. OK, perhaps not that last one, although I wouldn’t be surprised.
Who cares what people think? Let them stew in their ignorance – it’s their loss, after all. It’s the problem of a flat-Earther to explain how they can see further when they’re on top of a mountain and why no one has seen the Earth’s edge. My life is not made any less rich by their ignorance. It’s true that all people of reason would like everyone else to share their knowledge, but it ain’t going to happen, so why stress about it?
In the context of family law, does it matter that some people think that judges are biased, that the system exists to take children away from their parents, or that the court purposely decided that a child should die, rather than receive life-saving treatment? They can believe whatever they want, as hard as they want, but it won’t make an iota of difference to the truth – facts don’t care what anyone believes.
Well it certainly doesn’t matter to those who believe in such things if they’re not involved with the family justice system. They can get angry at what they wrongly think is an injustice, but their anger is their problem, so long as it doesn’t lead to them breaking the law. And even then, any penalties imposed on them by the law are their problem too.
On the other hand, if they are involved with the family justice system, or if they have caused anyone so involved to become a ‘non-truth’ believer, then it may well matter to them or to that person, as they are then likely to make bad decisions in relation to their case. We see this all the time. If, for example, a litigant in person believes the judge is biased against them, then they may decide that it is no longer worth their while engaging with the court, thereby doing enormous damage to their case.
But this is still the problem of the person who has decided to be a non-believer in the truth. Where it may become the problem of the rest of society is if the truth-deniers are so vociferous that they influence our law makers into making bad laws. We all know how those in power will do anything to please their voters, and we have seen something of this already with the ill-advised introduction of the ‘shared parenting presumption’. Hopefully, however, that was just an aberration, and that when it comes to the big picture wiser counsels will prevail – I may be an optimist, but I remain confident that ultimately they will. After all, there have always been those whose views are, shall we say, ‘non-conformist’: post-truthism is not entirely new.
Maybe, instead of trying to fight ignorance, we should just ignore it, and concentrate on getting on with our jobs in the real family justice system – I certainly don’t think there is any point in knocking our heads against a solid brick wall of untruths. Maybe we should just leave the ignorant to their fate, rather than acknowledge them and thereby give them a status that they don’t deserve.