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Articles: Truthism
Posted by Rogue on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 02:00 PM PST

Experiences
Preface: Many words have lately become hijacked and given meanings contrary to their original, causing an unusual lack of words to accurately and unambiguously describe terms of integrity or truth (conservative now means religious warmonger, for example, instead of its old meaning which had more to do with actually conserving resources, and science used to just mean knowledge and its objective pursuit but has come to be a dogma unto itself), so damn the torpedoes, here goes truthism.
Truthism is the ism that isn't an ism, the dogma that isn't a dogma, the truth that isn't a truth but is instead the absence of lies. It is rationality and peace, sense and sensibility, worldliness and transcendence, construction, order from chaos, the knowledge of unknowing. Religion is the dogmatic belief in religion in the face of conflicting or absent evidence. Science is the dogmatic belief in science in the face of conflicting or absent evidence. Magical thinking is a psychological term used to describe leaps of faith or inference of hidden cause, yet the term itself implies that all causes are known, and that magic itself can be proven to not exist in the absence of evidence, a logical impossibility. Or, maybe logical impossibility is impossible itself, a tautology which must be shattered to find the truth like a pane of stained glass which allows light to pass through but still obscures form.

So where does that leave us? Who has enough courage to seek the actual truth without having a conclusion in advance, not merely search for evidence to support an assumed fact, but derive facts from available evidence? And then, once the picture is clear, the conclusion is reached, remember and admit that you may not have all the facts, admit that you do not know everything and that the next fact may change the conclusion entirely? It is flexibility, adaptability of thought, having strength enough to submit to the times as a reed bends in the wind. A reed bends, but does not break, unlike the tree which attempts to defeat the wind with stubborn dogmatic strength, and is so often broken or torn from its roots. It means letting go of the need to always be right, always know all the facts, and accepting that you know what you know and no more, and act based on the best conclusion possible of the moment.

Life and the universe flow like a stream, and setting a course often involves running aground on rocks that care not for your path, while knowing where you want to go but following the current, adjusting along the way, allows you to smoothly reach your destination. It may take a bit more circuitous route than you may have envisioned, but in the end, it is your unique path. This leads to being honest and true to oneself, which is at the same time the most terrifying and liberating thing one can do. It is the far shore of the night-sea-journey, and to get there you must brave not only the night and its unknowns, but the harsh light of morning that reveals perhaps unattractive truths that are true just the same.

So how can this be practiced? Let me give some examples based on recent topics.

Gay marriage. If you assume that it is wrong, you can only determine this for yourself, no truths are absolute, so the conclusion is that it must be allowed, or even better, just called "marriage" so it is not defined as an exception to a rule. If you are against gay marriage, don't marry any gays, and call it a day. Any other conclusion is arrogant assumption of allknowingness, that you somehow have all the facts and perfect knowledge of how the future will play out, which is an ignorant conclusion to reach. No, admit you do not know all and choose only for yourself.

Secularism or sectarianism in government. If you assume that your religion should be followed in all aspects of life, you must know and admit that there are other religions and the lack thereof, and therefore must conclude that no religion or religious principles belong in government, in order to prevent making decisions for people you do not know, who have their own decisions to make.

Monogamy. It may be the only path or option for you, but you must also admit that you do not know everything about everyone and therefore the only option is to be accepting of those who don't share your views, and allow that they all have their own paths not directed by you.

Abortion. I personally am anti-abortion, will never get one or participate in one, but I allow that I do not and should not control the rest of the population and their choices, so the only logical choice is to be pro-choice. I will add here, that it amuses me to no end that the two sides call themselves such, pro-life (like the opponents are anti-life) and pro-choice (not pro-abortion, like they don't fully want to admit their position out loud), in an attempt to colour the issue before it is discussed. The comedian Hal Sparks covers this topic more well than I ever could, how you have to order un-sweetened tea to get what should just be called "tea", if you choose not to smoke then you are not just a person who does not smoke, you are a "non-smoker", in short, these terms assume a default normal case by their language (like gay marriage) and by doing so create a prejudice of language. Well, it creates a prejudice in those prone to such things, dogmatic thinkers, group joiners, those that do not seek their own path, those that don't practice truthism.

Your homework then, is to make a conscious effort to take an issue on which you have a strong opinion and no doubt whatsoever, and as a thought exercise, doubt it. Take it apart, look at each fact you have about it and make sure each fact is not itself based on an incorrect assumption, get down to only pure facts, about the issue and about your own personal values, wants, needs, and desires. If, after doing this in earnest, you reach the same conclusion, then congratulations are in order to you, because now you actually believe in that way for your own reasons and values and facts, you have found your path in that matter. If you reach a different conclusion, again, congratulations, there are no wrong conclusions except those that you take from others and do not reach yourself. Are you religious? Allow that atheism may be the true path and look at the facts and your personal truths to see where you go. Are you atheist? Allow that there may be more to the universe than you can measure and it might be best described by religion, see where that takes you.

Compare it to a marathon, you could stand at the starting line and ride a taxi to the end, but that will never be your marathon, and your mind will know and punish you with stress and congnitive dissonance because it ultimately seeks truth on a basic level despite any lies it may be forced to live or tell. No, you must run your own marathon or be honest enough to admit you are not a runner. You must sail your own ship, alone, on your night-sea-journey, with no compass but your heart, no wind but your will, no stars but your own mind.

Go forth, I say, and practice truthism. See you on the other shore.



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Truthism | Login/Create an account | 5 Comments
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Re: Truthism
by Schizo on Jan 18, 2012 - 05:43 PM
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What you are describing here is exactly what I have been attempting to practice ever since I left the cult. Ever since the fateful day when I decided that the words "I don't know" are perfectly valid, and when I decided I would rather blunder on my own than be controlled by another. This left me with a blank slate, which is a scary, intimidating, wonderful place to be.

Ever since that time, in my very early twenties, not very long before joining this community, I have been exploring, seeking truth. I played with a couple of different religions, gleaned a few jewels out of that mud, and eventually abandoned organized religion entirely. I still examine and test politics, and have come to some conclusions. I know what my values are, and what I stand against, but I have yet to find myself at all represented in the political spectrum, so that makes things difficult.

Most importantly, I think, was my determination to try to face truth about myself, which was hard. Most of what I was taught to believe about myself centered around my own failure and inadequacy. My marriage only reinforced this. As I fought free from this false image of myself, I tried very hard not to replace it with an equally false positive image. When I receive criticism, or even censure, I always take it very seriously. Even if I believe the one criticizing me is in the wrong, I always search for the grain of truth. Even mistaken people can be partially right. I try to do this about complements as well.

In short, test everything, even myself. Especially myself. Keep testing. Keep questioning. Never be afraid to admit ignorance. Never be afraid to find myself in the wrong. Always remember that I have more to learn.

I never expect to arrive at the truth, but I will continue to relentlessly search for it. For me, there is no other way.



Re: Truthism
by Rogue (Rogue@skew.org) on Jan 19, 2012 - 09:44 AM
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About being taught to have falsely negative or even positive images of self and others, yes, that is prevalent, but before you even get to the point of that, the images you are taught to have by seemingly everyone are comparative, each thing compared to another and contrasted, which is completely invalid to me. Each person needs to find their worth based on their values, that they actually developed for themselves. This is one of the major failings of religion, it imposes a system of values and comparison that, while it certainly takes all the work of constructing a system out of it, tends to be idealistic enough to make everyone feel either inadequate or self-righteous, or both. (Those who tend to be most moralistic in focus also tend to cheat, lie, steal, etc more often, just look at the homophobic Republicans getting caught having gay sex in bathrooms...) True and lasting self worth comes from within, defined by the self, owned by the self, and cannot be damaged by outside influences.


[ No anonymous comments ]


Re: Truthism
by Schizo on Jan 19, 2012 - 06:19 PM
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That is something I've been working on. Obviously I started out with some pretty strong external negatives. Then I met my ex husband and got a pretty mixed bag there, but it was made obvious I was supposed to conform to his tastes. That was countered by some of the really great input I got here - for a while, that was my only consistent source of approval. I've grown since then, though. It's a little funny, but as I've stopped paying attention to other people's standards, and started discovering and living by my own, I find myself simply awash in approval, but this time from people I have a similarly high opinion of. I think that like definitely attracts like, and the more true you are to yourself, you attract more and more satisfying and supportive friends. On the other hand, the people I've encountered who lack the courage to relentlessly pursue truth either end up friendless, or surrounded by pseudo friends, and are generally pretty miserable.

Another funny thing is, the more thoroughly I hold true to my own (ever evolving) code, the more respect I seem to get even from those who not only hold a far different code, but have in the past attacked me for not following it.

There's really no benefit in lying to yourself about anything, or trying to live by another's rules. I've never done that but I've ended up regretting it.


[ No anonymous comments ]


Re: Truthism
by Schizo on Jan 19, 2012 - 06:19 PM
(User info | Send a Message)
That is something I've been working on. Obviously I started out with some pretty strong external negatives. Then I met my ex husband and got a pretty mixed bag there, but it was made obvious I was supposed to conform to his tastes. That was countered by some of the really great input I got here - for a while, that was my only consistent source of approval. I've grown since then, though. It's a little funny, but as I've stopped paying attention to other people's standards, and started discovering and living by my own, I find myself simply awash in approval, but this time from people I have a similarly high opinion of. I think that like definitely attracts like, and the more true you are to yourself, you attract more and more satisfying and supportive friends. On the other hand, the people I've encountered who lack the courage to relentlessly pursue truth either end up friendless, or surrounded by pseudo friends, and are generally pretty miserable.

Another funny thing is, the more thoroughly I hold true to my own (ever evolving) code, the more respect I seem to get even from those who not only hold a far different code, but have in the past attacked me for not following it.

There's really no benefit in lying to yourself about anything, or trying to live by another's rules. I've never done that but I've ended up regretting it.


[ No anonymous comments ]


Re: Truthism
by Schizo on Jan 19, 2012 - 06:23 PM
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Gah, double post. A bit glitchy are we?


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