Truth /tro͞oTH/ That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.
"The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions." ~ Michael Margolis
Stories teach me in the most unlikely ways. I love to hear the stories that people tell, it gives me so much insight on where they are in their life, what they truly desire, and the hurts they hold that haunt them. I've told lots of stories about myself, some were true, some I thought were true, some I just plain wanted to be true. I respect the truth much more these days, even if it isn't pretty, and even if I don't always like facing it. I've found freedom in truth, I've found release in letting the old stories that no longer serve me bleed free from my shadow, I've found peace.
Truth can be scary, no, it can be terrifying. It can rip you apart from the inside out and make you feel like you'll never be put back together again. This is beautiful, this ripping, this coming undone at the seams. It's destructively elegant, falling to ruin, creating a life of dream from ash. The ethereal life, raised from the mists of disaster, fully realized in the vulnerable embrace of true surrender to all of life's experiences. To me, this is the journey of a life well-lived.
“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them." ~ Anthony de Mello
The stories we choose to tell ourselves and others shape our perceptions, they shape the way we see the world and those in it, they shape us. The stories we are told by those that we trust to tell us the truth can be just as powerful. We rise to unthinkable heights when a loved one believes in us, we fabricate lies to protect an abuser and eventually begin to believe the stories we tell, we all tell stories, and, deep down we're all very similar, we all love to believe. There is great power in stories, the question is how we will choose to wield this power. What stories will we choose to tell?
I choose the raw and uncomfortable truths. The real stories. Lies, no matter how momentarily comforting, always bring a fleeting hope and an aching pain. Lies and half truths feed us false beliefs. It is the widespread dissemination of false beliefs that eats away at the colorful and diverse cultural fabric of society. Ignorance is subversive, often masked as truth, we are spoon fed beliefs from a broken system, and we are so successfully conditioned that we never think to question the storytellers. We want the truth, but we're also painstakingly mortified that it might one day find us.
"The word 'why' not only taught me to ask, but also to think. And thinking has never hurt anyone. On the contrary, it does us all a world of good." ~ Anne Frank
Dichotomy, something I have had to get very comfortable with in this life. The more people that I come into contact with in life the more I realize how surprisingly similar and vastly different we all truly are. The fallacy of the assumption on identical universal experience and the truth that we all share a great number of similarities, always keeps me on my toes, guessing.
I make assumptions all the time, without realizing, without thinking. I was talking with my very close friend on the phone the other day and we were discussing something as insignificant and meaningless as a hashtag, #vibetribe. This of course, (because this is what happens when you surround yourself with intellectuals and conscious minded people), turned into a wonderful discussion on education, compassion, conditioning, and the nature of assumptions. You see, my friend wasn't fond of the term tribe, she preferred to use the word community. I on the other hand, love the word tribe, finding it much more meaningful, symbolically. I asked my friend why she wasn't a fan of the word tribe and she honestly responded, saying that it reminded her of aggression because of how she had been taught about the native peoples of this country in school. I've held the strong belief that we are often subtly conditioned, throughout our lives, without being given a choice in the matter. It's mostly a passive act on our part, we're born, and the world around us imprints the socially agreed upon conditions within us. It's such an artful process, we hardly even notice its effects, that is, until moments like this.
As a student, getting my MA in teaching and completing my student teaching in a 11th grade US History class at a local high school, I found this absolutely captivating. I had ignorantly assumed that all children learned about US history the way that I had. This is the true power of conditioning, so subtle, we hardly realize it's there. It is only when truth stares us back in the face, steady, unflinching, that we are able to reconcile the errors of our past and progress forward into the future, with our eyes wide open.
I was homeschooled, often teaching myself because of absentee parental involvement. I self instructed and turned in packets to a charter teacher, who would in turn hand them to the state every couple weeks. I learned through lots of reading, both textbook and supplemental. I read a book on Columbus when I was about 9 years old and I remember meeting with Janet, my charter teacher, to turn in my book report. I told her I was sorry, but I couldn't agree that Columbus was a good man, he tortured, hung, enslaved, and dismembered natives. I couldn't admire a man like that, I asked why she would have me read something so terrible. I was confused then, shocked by the truth that stood in stark contrast to the lies I had been told by the society I lived in, I'm grateful now.
My mother came from a small town near Monreal in Quebec, Canada. When she was in good spirits she would tell lovely stories of the native tribes in the area, of their wisdom, of their healing, of their respect for life and all of nature. She told me of how their land had been taken from them, quite easily, but not without bloodshed. "You see", she said, "the tribes respected the land, they never saw it as belonging to them, they were one with it, they were in love, belonging to each other." My mother always warned me to be careful what I believed, to question everyone, and everything, even if the information came from what I thought to be a trustworthy source. Growing up, this was the story I had been told, and I failed to see, at the time, the impact this would have on the remainder of my life. My mother wasn't a perfect mother, but this she did well, anybody who knows me, knows that I ceaselessly question all, even that that I believe in.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ~ George Orwell
In my study of history I have found that the truth depends on which side it's being told from, and in case you need a refresher on the definition of truth, scroll back up to the top of this blog, I hate to break it to ya, that ain't the definition. The truth is based on reality, on facts, it should not be subjective. In one of the texts for my program, titled: "Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History" the author James. W. Loewen discusses the case, Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed et al., where he sued the textbook board in Mississippi in federal court, for banning history textbooks that told the truth about the atrocities inflicted upon African Americans. He won the case, but he goes on to say that Mississippi was not an isolated incident, textbooks often choose to alter history, to sugarcoat it and make it much more pleasant for the mainstream view to swallow. Maybe they're scared that if we knew the truth we'd abandon our patriotism. Wasn't this country founded on freedom? Shouldn't we get to decide how we feel once we're presented with the facts, reality, the truth? Isn't that our right?
I think this is an important lesson, not just in history, but throughout life. It is when we try to protect ourselves from facing the realities in life that we hinder our progress. We are all conditioned, I continue to learn of my own conditioning regularly, I witness the ways in which life and all I have encountered, have shaped me. The truth, the facts, the reality, the options that offer us the gift of learning, in facing our mistakes of the past. This is just one of the things that I love. So I ask you, how do we want to shape the future? What stories will we choose to tell? I hope we choose the truthful ones.
"The mistakes that you made in that game. You have to do the hard stuff. And watch that game. And study that game. To not make those mistakes over and over and over again. Just because you weren't brave enough to face it. You gotta deal with it. Face it. Learn from it. It sucks, but you don't want to have that feeling again, do you? Right, so you gotta really study it and face it. Not to say you'll win the next time, but at least you'll give yourself a better chance." ~ Kobe Bryant
Who would have thought? Kobe dropping truth bombs on our consciousness. Apparently his quotes apply to basketball, history, social conditioning, assumptions, and life in general. As I've said, this world never ceases to amaze me.