The Tenuous Nature of Truth

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May I not sit in judgment. May I be open to hearing and accepting the truth of what I am told. May my decisions be for the good of all concerned. May my work bring peace.” Maisie Dobbs

Truth. Truth is a funny thing. It shouldn’t be. It should just be a given that we can all expect from each other and within ourselves. Truth should be something we all take for granted. But it is not. Truth with our inner self. Truth to each other. Truth from those we elected to serve and lead. Truth.

For weeks I have struggled with what to write. I’ve come to this space numerous times and have written. I’ve deleted each and every one. Too discombobulated. Too lost. To untruthful. Reflecting on where we are as a nation and where I am personally is rather unsettling.  Reflection should help. It usually does. Yet, sometimes when reflection requires truth it can be hard. It can be unsettling. It can require thoughts and actions that are just downright difficult.

I have had some deep and difficult conversations with my kids lately. “You have to go through the mucky swamp to get to the other side,” I say to them. The replies are often, “Why, when you can run around its edge and get there too?” It’s a logical response and question. But does it bring the same results? I don’t know. I’m not that wise to know for sure. But for me, it was years of mucking in that swamp that uncovered the truth that was to set me free. But now I find myself back in the middle of the muck. Personally and in my relationship and role with where our country is.

As a teacher, I’ve had to talk with children and their parents about truth and lies. Truth and lies are a big deal. Sometimes kids, and parents, ask why such a big deal. “It’s just a little lie.” Well that’s when we get to “intent”. What was the intent of that “little lie”? Was it to spare someone pain? Or was it to lessen your own? Was it to bring you some gain? Did it hurt someone? These reflections on intent work to guide us in uncovering the role of truth within ourselves and with assessing our fellow Americans and the “leaders” running our country.

And then there is remorse. A parent once asked why I was so concerned with her child’s lying. It was hard to admit to her that her child’s lack of remorse was a large part of my concern. Remorse hadn’t registered on her radar. It, as well as intent, were always  defining ideas for me when working with a child deep in a lie. They should be guiding beacons when working to uncover lies deep within ourselves as well.

As I listen to the many and ongoing lies from many of our “leaders” I realize that not only do I struggle with their blatant lies, I too struggle with the lies within myself. While their lies  come from a deep place of intention to harm large groups of people who do not have the resources those in power do, my deeply shielded lies harm my own personal well being as well as those I love deeply. How can I expect others to be truthful when I am not truthful with myself?

For several weeks I’ve been home during the days. This is such a new, awkward, and at times uncomfortable feeling. All the years of working so hard, putting my attention, heart and soul into my work has allowed me the perfect cover to be dishonest with myself. Allowed me the cover necessary to not continue the necessary work of uncovering and embracing truth. And here we are, days before a historic election, pondering the notion of truth and the role it plays in all we see, do, and read about.

A few weeks ago my brother asked me, “How are we to know who to believe?” This question is really at the heart of what we are struggling with as a country. How do we know? Some say to read a lot. Well, of course. But it’s more than that. I go back to intent. What is the intent behind the words of the person we are listening to or reading about? Is it to help those less fortunate? A notion that is the foundation and guiding concept in all religions. Or is it to help us continue the lie that this isn’t really all about “me”? What will be best for me? What will allow me the most money? What will allow me the comfort to not bear witness of racist hatred that is blatantly rising in our country? Me. Me. Me. We kid ourselves that the youth, who we’ve termed “the me generation”, is at the heart of selfishness. In reality, it is the many baby boomers who appear to be “the me generation”. And if I’m honest with myself, I too am one. I am worried about Social Security. I am worried about the day my passport won’t allow me free mobility. I am worried about my family’s health care. I am worried about my child being targeted with a hate crime. I am worried about offspring surviving climate change. Me. Me. Me. How will it affect me? The defining question which should lead us to know who to believe is, “How will this affect those less fortunate or those vulnerable to acts of hate?”

So how do we not only demand truth from our “leaders” but truth from within ourselves? It’s hard work. It’s not really all that fun either. But the uncovered reality is said to be worth it. Not only do we need to, we must, do that work for ourselves and for each other. Then we need to speak up against the hate spilling out from our own hearts, from around our country, and across our borders.

Peace and honesty,

Mary

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