There are so many versions of truth these days that it’s no wonder we’re a bit confused by the entire concept.
Susan Scott, in her book Fierce Conversations, has an interesting take on truth. On page 21 she writes:
“Pause for a moment and think about the truth. After all, what is the truth, and does anybody own it?
“What each of us believes to be true simply reflects our views about reality. When reality changes (and when doesn’t it?) and when we ignore competing realities, if we dig in our heels regarding a familiar or favored reality, we may fail. Perhaps what we thought was the truth is no longer the truth in today’s environment.”
I think what she’s saying here is that the ideas we’ve made judgments about in our past may not be true for us any more. It may be that we need to adjust our reality when new information is added.
We might, then, contrast this idea of truth with honesty. This view of truth has an element of accountability attached to it. “I was the one who wrote the anonymous article,” for example. If you wrote it, then that’s the truth.
That sort of truth doesn’t stop being true just because you refuse to believe it. That truth will set you free but, as Gloria Steinem (or any number of sources) may have said, first it will piss you off.
Because, deep down, you know what it is. You may try to delude yourself, and you might be able to get by with it for a while.
But you know. Your soul knows.
Why are so many people angry today? They seem to have forgotten what joy actually feels like. They’ve gotten used to that heaviness righteousness requires. They seem to truly believe that that being kind = being soft, and being a leader = being a jerk.
Culture is a feeling more than a doing. The doing comes from that feeling. And when a culture is oppressive and heavy, is it any wonder that the actions reflect that heaviness.
Of course, it’s a chicken and an egg thing. Which caused the other? And in that culture, it’s difficult to take a step in any direction without breaking one of those egg shells. Who can be honest and self-expressed in that environment?
It is possible to accept something without understanding it, and it is also possible to understand something without fully accepting it as your own truth. But higher and broader and deeper awareness doesn’t – can’t – allow you to unknow what you know. Once your mind is expanded by a new idea, said Oliver Wendell Holmes, it can’t regain its original dimension.
And maybe that’s what’s prompting all the anger. Fear that a new thought might mean you’ve gotten it wrong. That you are somehow bound and then judged by a decision you made with fewer facts and without the light of new information. That your truth could have (and probably has) shifted.
So, ponder this thought, and then decide what truth means to you.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self-Reliance, 1841