Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Demanding the Truth

My last post concluded with, “And before we start pointing out the speck of lies in the other guy’s eye, let’s do some personal work on the log that is in our own eyes.” While thinking about this personal work, I ran across a passage in Hemingway’s The Moveable Feast. He was writing about how he always found it difficult to begin a new story and how he would continually tell himself, “You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Thinking about this, it occurred to me that this is where we want to begin.

Speak the truest sentence that you know.

Whether it is in conversation with yourself, your family, a friend, or a co-worker, let your next sentence be true. In other words, demand the truth of yourself. This presupposes, of course, that you know the truth of yourself.
What am I truly feeling or thinking? What do I actually believe, and why? Not what am I supposed to be feeling, thinking or believing but what is the truth of me, what is the truth to me? Yes, yes, when we speak our truth we want to be appropriate and wise.  However, how often do we use these sentiments to actually bleed the substance of our truth from our sentences and, consequently, from our souls?
How can we insist upon “the truest sentence” from others, if we ourselves prefer comforting lies that shelter us from disturbing facts, unsetting realities, and soul-rattling truths? “This is what I believe (not), how I feel (nope), what is true for me (hope they bought that),” is a sentence that gives others permission to lie to you and robs you of the authority of integrity while questioning their sentences.

Thinking With Your Own Mind
It seems to me that many people choose to allow others to think through their brains and speak through their mouths. They are talking heads with talking points and muted souls, not individuals with their own thoughts and feelings. When asked a question the default position is to repeat the beliefs of the tribes to which they belong: political tribes, religious tribes, social tribes, ideological tribes, etc.
Before you speak, ask yourself: do my words have any correlation to the truth of things as I view them? Have I dug deeply enough into my mind and heart to know what is actually there? When it comes to my beliefs, am I merely parroting others, repeating the thoughts of those I respect or fear, or am I expressing the results of my own studies and deliberations?

I would rather discover I was wrong about the “truth” of my beliefs and ideas than mindlessly echoing what turned out to be true. I would rather be an honest heretic than mindlessly orthodox. (And religions are not the only institutions with orthodoxies!) I would rather say, “I don’t know,” before trafficking in stolen goods—pretending my words and thoughts were actually mine, while knowing I had pilfered them from someone else.
We need to stop being robots, giving the controls over our brains, hearts, and mouths to others. Stand up to the “intellectual terrorism of institutions” (Voegelin) and tribes that demand we fall in line and repeat the company line, “or else.” 

Demand the truth of yourself.

Come to your own conclusions.  

Have your own voice.

Now. Speak the truest sentence that you know.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

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