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Happy New Year 2019.

Dec. 31 and January 1 officially mark the end of one year, and the beginning of another. Which day you dwell upon might depend upon your outlook on life. While I prefer to focus on beginnings, words used more than normal this past year could inform the future. As an online digital news platform, Ark Valley Voice is all about words; we take note of odd uses, over use; we look for words that matter.

For instance, when new Chaffee County resident Michael Swords leaned over the back of my chair during a Chaffee County Commissioner’s meeting in December and said “You know, I hear that the primary word to describe a real journalist is curiosity. Is that true?”

“True. Curiosity is required,” I answered. “Our job is to ask ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘how’, and most of all, ‘why’. People, corporations, governments, don’t always want to answer those words.”

Variations of ‘ever’ have been way over-used this year. United States President Donald Trump has declared that he has had the “best year ever” for U.S. Presidents.

“ever” is a long time.

The exclamation point has just had its best year ever too.

“The trade deal USMCA has received fantastic reviews. It will go down as one of the best ever made, and it will also benefit Mexico and Canada!”

These words by Donald Trump were not tweeted, nor spoken, but written down on the headed notepaper of the White House – complete with punctuation. He does that a lot.

On a holiday cross-country jaunt from Colorado, to Arlington, Virginia and back again, we crossed into Kansas on Interstate I-70. A sign said we were crossing the Republican River. (Note, according to Wikipedia, the Republican River is a river in the central Great Plains of North America, rising in the High Plains of eastern Colorado and flowing east 453 miles (729 km) through the U.S. states of Nebraska and Kansas.) It was dry.

A metaphor perhaps?

Recently I was pulled into a conversation about the difference between truth and facts. Seems many people think they are the same. I don’t think they are. It turns out that whether you believe they are, or not, is philosophical.

Some think that the difference between truth and fact is that fact is something that cannot be combated with reasoning, because it is logic itself. In their view, truth is something which depends on a person’s perspective and experience.

According to www.Differencebetween.net, “truth can be described as the true state of a certain matter, may it be a person, a place, a thing or an event. It is what a person has come to believe. If he believes that something is true, then it is true.”

No less that Trump’s lawyer and public relations voice Rudy Giuliani’s has elaborated on the definition of “truth”, taking it to incomprehensible levels. He has declared that “truth isn’t truth”. Asked to explain that rather bizarre statement he said he was “referring to the situation where two people … you see, truth isn’t truth when truth isn’t true, to be truth to truth……”.

So much for Giuliani’s clarity.

Others say the difference is simple: facts are what you see, truth is unseen things behind the facts.

That gets closer to the truth for me (pun intended). Personally, I’m not sure I believe that facts and truth mean the same thing. I go back to the question asked of me by a county resident when he tapped me on the shoulder in the commissioner’s meeting; the difference between the two things answers the questions about what is really happening.

In the technical sense, facts can answer certain questions, like ‘where’ or ‘who’, or ‘when’, and even ‘how’, and so can truth. But of the two, only truth answers the question of ‘why’.

Which brings us back to today. It is January 1. That makes this New Year’s Day. Many view this as a moment to make resolutions, to look forward to the future. Others say the lessons of the past must inform the future. Both are right.

Why?