Searching for Truth
So, it’s 2022 and our culture is eyebrows deep in a shit show. On top of global concerns of genocide, pandemic and climate disaster, we are plagued division and dissent on every front.
And everyone has an opinion.
Never before have humans been able to spew our immediate thoughts out into the world with such urgency, precision and speed. I guess it makes sense that in a time when we personally know so much, we want to make sure others know how much we know.
We stake a claim in a particular camp of opinion and target hate and vitriol towards those who disagree.
But, how often do we think deeply about how we know what we know?
Last year, I was introduced to Esther Meek’s, A Little Manual for Knowing, that offers insight into how we construct knowledge. It blew me away in it’s simplicity and profundity, and I saw myself in her description of the person who tends to approach knowledge as an exercise to get to the one truth, seeking data and “true statements-justified by other true statements” (p.2).
Get in…get out…and no one gets hurt. Or do they? Our collective mental health feels fragile.
I have fought with my tendency towards black/white thinking my whole life and Meek’s suggestion that this might be about power and control is unsettling, but likely true.
Historically when I can see, name and declare the truth, then things are okay. Boundaries are clear, messiness is averted and all is well.
Until it isn’t.
I have experienced what Meek names as the downside to this trait (though never put language to) when she says this kind of control “distorts reality and humanness”. I have difficult memories where my doggedness to find and conform to the ‘right’ answer has harmed those I love.
My strong internal bent towards clarity has made grey harder to see, and caused me to demand others clean up their edges for things to be okay.
I’m working on it.
Meek also argues that true knowing comes from love. Sappy, but I resonate.
I am learning to see the magic that happens when I let my love and desire birth new “knowing ventures” (19) and let wonder play a bigger role in my journey.
This isn’t an easy thing to do coming out of a religious structure that cautions against paying attention to, let alone trusting, your desires. I was taught that desires are not only untrustworthy, they do not make good guides.
Moving away from this belief was one of the fundamental shifts I made during the years I transitioned away from organized religion. I have become convinced that if I was, indeed, made in the divine image and declared ‘very good’, then many of those old teachings just didn’t make sense.
Instead, the things I love and desire are part of my divine creation and might even be hinting at the work I am supposed to do in the world.
I am getting better at seeing, naming, and declaring what is in my heart and not being afraid of the things I love. This practice has proven to be the best witness I have to the love of God and has led me to many exciting knowing ventures including new relationships, businesses, and formal education.
*Meek, Esther. A Little Manual for Knowing. Cascade Books, 2014. 20.
Image by adobe