I had devoted my life to the pursuit of truth. I thought that gaining understanding of the objective reality around me will make it easier for me to navigate the world.
What I’m now convinced of instead is that there are at least 7.8 billion truths, each unique in their own way, each as valid as the next one, all sharing the same gift that is also a curse: the gift of personal experience, and it being the fundamental tool we have to interpret the world.
On my quest to find the truth, I have done what many of us are tempted to do: to follow in the footsteps of those who seem to know the way to truth.
“I have seen the truth, and it is God,” said a religious person, so I prayed with them for a while to learn about the truth. God was unconditional love and we were all meant to surrender to God, as was our purpose. The more people flocked together, the stronger this purpose felt. But when I turned around and looked at what acts were done by people in the name of God, I did not see unconditional love; what it felt was that love was only extended to those who follow a God of a same name and likeness, but that cruel judgement often awaited those who wouldn’t. Since I did not believe that truth hated us for not knowing it, I left.
“I have seen the truth, and it is science,” said an academic, so I studied with them for a while. Science focused on empirical observations as opposed to personal experience. Science was loathe to bias, which was music to my ears: my biases were holding me back, and if I engaged in a discipline that guards against bias, I would be on my way to truth. But thousands of years passed and science was still unable to produce even a single fact. All that it ever produced were observations such as: “Given these conditions, we found that when we expose X to Y, a change of Z is measured.” How we repeated or interpreted these observations was still subject to consensus, but a consensus could not always be reached in the academic community. Since I did not believe that truth could ever be subject to disagreement, I left.
“I have seen the truth, and it is Oneness,” said a spiritual person, so I meditated with them for a while. There was a time when we had all known the truth, it seems, but we had somehow forgotten it. If we practiced slowing down the turmoil of modern life and turning inwards, we might rediscover our long-lost wisdom and elevate our consciousness again to the realization that we are all One. That meant, by definition, destroying one’s own ego. This truth made sense to me since I’ve realized how much I’m still living in fear and how many harmful decisions I have made for my own ego. However, while in the spiritual community I struggled with the dichotomy of their theoretically fascination with ego-death and their ego-feeding frenzy in practice. When I watched who they flock to as their leaders, I saw mostly narcissistic, often abusive men repeating clichéd phrases that sound like wisdom but are devoid of any substance. Since I did not believe that privilege should ever be mistaken for truth, I left.
“I have seen the truth, and I will tell you all about it in this hour-long YouTube video,” said a conspiracy theorist, and they were absolutely bonkers. The only thing I’ve learned was that some people are really desperate to make themselves relevant by manufacturing authenticity.
But then it increasingly dawned on me that manufactured authenticity is the only authenticity we can ever hope for, or that “truth” is in fact just a popularity contest.
“Do your research,” says an online commenter who is opposing vaccinations, another who claims that 5G causes cancer, and another who is a climate change-denier. And when you do your “research”, you discover that all sorts of competing information being out there means that you can readily find scientific-looking, peer-reviewed papers to validate basically any stance that you are currently, personally, emotionally entrenched in.
I think I went about a lot of this all wrong. When I talk with a person who is concerned about the harmful aspects of 5G, we both tend to rush to prove our conclusions about whether 5G “is” or “isn’t” harmful and we lose a chance to have an actual conversation about WHY would you like to believe that it’s harmful or claim that it’s safe. What do cell phones mean to you in general? How does “technology” impact your life or lives of your loved ones today? What is your level of trust in your government or the health care system? These conversations will take an order of magnitude more time and stamina for all parties involved, but they will be infinitely more rewarding than wrestling with what we believe are “facts”.
The problem is that we are trying to bring facts as weapon to a fight that’s predominantly about feelings and experiences. We are trying to use “truth” as a shortcut to skip actually listening to one another. Due to our lazy habit of reaching for the verb “to be” while reasoning with language, our expression often gets bogged down by stating everything as either a fact or a mistruth, without any room for nuance or conversations about in-betweens.
There is no “fake news” nor real news much like there is no such a thing as a scientific “fact”; there is only ever an interpretation and the observer’s decision whether or not to subscribe to that interpretation.
I have a met a young woman who had told me she is a “7-dimensional being sent to Earth to help elevate human kind to a higher vibration”. Had I met this person five years ago, my ego would still instruct me to mock her. But having met her now, I genuinely thanked her for what she was doing for us. Can I confirm she is what she claims to be? I can not, and I’m learning to find happiness, not despair, in the fact that I can not. But can I listen and believe someone like that? Absolutely, especially because their purpose is fundamentally about love.
Each of us nurtures our own truth within us, and the kindest thing one can ever aspire to is to give others validation for their truth.
And every day, with every interaction, a bit of someone else’s truth spills into yours and changes you forever. I have been around people who have walked with God and I’m kinder for it. I have been around scientists who tirelessly wrote down research notes and I’m smarter for it. I have been around spiritual folks chanting their mantras and I’m more grounded as a result of it.
Have I also placed in each of them, and in each of you, a piece of my truth and changed other people forever? I would like to believe so. Maybe that’s my purpose for now.