Early Morning thoughts ~ Truth or ? (Part 3)

Continuing with the thoughts about truth, this comment came to mind:

The word “true” has many meanings.
People who feel that science and literature or science and religion are in necessary conflict do so because they habitually think in opposites of black and white, true and false, good and evil.
To such people, if science is “true,” then literature or religion is nonsense; if literature or religion is “true,” science is merely “pretentious ignorance.”
What should be understood when people tell us that certain statements are “scientifically true” is that they are useful and verifiable formulations, suitable for the purposes of organized cooperative workmanship.
What should be understood when people tell us that the plays of Shakespeare or the poems of Milton or Dante are “eternally true” is that they produce in us attitudes toward our fellow men, an understanding of ourselves, or feelings of deep moral obligation that are valuable to humanity under any conceivable circumstances.
S.I. Hayakawa Language in Thought and Action (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1990)

Without much difficulty we can get trapped into a situation where everything is treated as black or white, good or evil, etc.

Hayakawa uses a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

You know that if you had a bent tube, one arm of which was of the size of a pipestem, and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. Controversy equalizes fools and wise men in the same way – and the fools know it.

This is why it is often frustrating to try and have a discussion with people who hold a my-way-only-valued philosophy (____________ is no good, ____________ is all bad” “__________ is wrong in all circumstances” “_________ are evil”), because to such people there are no shades of gray.

And you want to discuss arguments against their philosophy/truth but get sucked into defending their opposite (democracy or whatever), just to prove the point.

Looking back at the two statement I highlighted and appearing to take the words from their contexts:

they are useful and verifiable formulations, suitable for the purposes of organized cooperative workmanship. . . they produce in us attitudes toward our fellow men, an understanding of ourselves, or feelings of deep moral obligation that are valuable to humanity under any conceivable circumstances
It becomes apparent that if core moral truth were operating in the situation, there could/would be a discussion rather than a rant/argument with no reasonable outcome.

In this kind of situation, I’m not required to give up anything – rather, I listen, evaluate and perhaps comment (perhaps?!). But nothing is standing in the way of working together. This allows understanding, growth and hope. It also allows us to keep the boundaries /fences of ourselves intact.

For example, corporate worship is important to me. It isn’t to everyone, and that is alright. I began attending worship with a group of people whose core beliefs I discovered were very different from mine. So different from mine, that I began to realize that their attitude toward others, their feelings of obligation and their sense of cooperation were only accessible through those beliefs (my-way-only-philosophy). It began to trouble me, as there was no way to discuss the differences without ending up in an argument and any interaction would be simply shut down. I then gently and kindly separated myself and went in another direction. Why didn’t I stay? Because open truth was not acceptable there, and by linking myself with that philosophy I was, in a sense, lending myself as a proponent of it. Of course, there were those who wanted to know the why and wherefore. My response was a simple “I can respect, and acknowledge your stand, but I can not accept it.” And the “coat-piece” ideal simply wasn’t going to happen. (more on this tomorrow)

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Truth or ? (part 2)

All the time we are bombarded with what someone wants to have us believe is the truth. A very good, recent example is the recent election. And that is the same reason that after an election we still haven’t “gotten” over it. We continually see people trying to persuade that they, and they alone, are the champions of the value of truth … the knight in shining armor for those values. They conveniently forget that many of us see through their pretenses.

Unfortunately, what they are after is not the value of truth, but a desire – overwhelming desire for self-importance and the power that goes with it..

Truth sets rules and so many people would try to take away those rules that would estrain THEIR actions but also put restraints on the actions of others.

And where Truth brings about peace and contentment, we are in a time where a lack of truth makes everyone polarized and willing to demonize anything/anyone that stands in the way. I”m not sure there’s ever been such a disdain for the truth or how “truth” is spun to help us hear only what is wanted to be heard.

When this happens being a “conservative” or a “liberal” becomes something different and something quite dangerous. For, in the long run, those wandering in this desert appear not to be guided by any values what-so-ever.

It seems to be difficult to find people willing to sacrifice anything for a greater good. And I’m not talking politics (although it would be a very easy target) or the entertainment industry. No, this goes all the way down to me as an individual. Why am I not keeping this topic at the top level such as the presidency or congress? Simply put – they are merely a creature of larger and smaller forces. There seems to be a marriage of a number of unholy alliances causing tremendous divisions and hypocrisy at almost every level.

Whether gay, straight, black, white or whatever – we individually need to answer for the lack of truth – moral truth – as a core value of our lives. We once again need to find our shared values – particularly the shared value of truth. The truth in our lives, the truth to ourselves and the truth to each other. And that means finding out who we are and how we are for ourselves. Yes, it is a journey of self-discovery. But it also is a journey of learning to get those around us to be themselves as well.

I look around and see that the very soul of community is in danger.

Yet those in power have failed to speak about this profound moral danger, but the political opposition remains virtually mute and effectively impotent in the face of these forces. (This silence and this impotence are signs of another part of America’s moral crisis, of that also-dangerous moral flaccidity into which too much of America has lapsed.)

But my major concern is individual, and especially the individual “me.” If I fail to live in truth, and to require truth from those around me, it is my core value that is in danger. When I fail to live in truth, I need an ”Emperor’s New Clothes” moment. “This emperor,” I must loudly, and forcefully remind myself, “has no moral clothes.” This fits into a “coat piece” plan for change. (more on that later)