“Truth, Doctor, is in the eye of the beholder. I never tell the truth because I don’t believe there is such a thing.”
-Andrew Robinson as Elim Garak
There’s going to be a lot of ironies and seemingly contradictory thoughts at the end here. I never believed that Life was simple or that as a result of that false simplicity, there could be a concise conclusion that I could draw from the sum of what it all had to offer to me. But, at this point on the journey I’ve chosen to take, I can draw a few reasonably simple conclusions about why I was on this path and what it may mean to me.
Throughout this whole process, I’ve been confronted with aspects of my existence that I haven’t been able to reconcile along with some new concepts and ideas that offer new opportunities for me to continue to grow and develop into the man I am to become. Many of the conclusions I’ve come to accept have come from just being able to look at myself with different eyes. Some things, I still have issues with honestly because I don’t believe they have merit.
One of the issues has always been my opinion of myself. I’m of the opinion that what I think about myself doesn’t matter. Saying that the people closest to me disagree with that statement is putting it mildly. Looking at it from the outside, it is a fairly accurate statement when you think about it. People are going to believe what they’re going to believe regardless of what you have to say about it. Underneath it all; however, is one simple and inescapable fact: No matter how much or how badly we may want something, it isn’t up to us alone to grant that desire. There will always be someone or something that will have to be in agreement with it.
For the longest time, all I really wanted was to be happy. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? Happiness is one of those things that we take for granted on a daily basis. Sure, we can be happy with superficial things. Perhaps even find happiness in or from something deeper. But, I’ve never been able to really find happiness in either. Well, at least not in the results anyway. Neither really seems to satisfy the need for them. What do I need with a mattress full of money anyway? I’ll probably just blow it on stuff I want and find myself in the same boat I was in except with a lot more junk and no real answers. On the other hand, if I want spiritual happiness, all I’ll have to really lean on is a long-term vision that requires me having an insurmountable level moral fidelity. I don’t need my “moral compass” pointing due north to know what if I’m being a “good person” or not. I don’t believe that I, or even us as a people, need that kind of guidance and supervision. I don’t believe it to be true.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been confused about what the truth actually is. I’m not talking about fact or fiction necessarily. I’ve been having trouble grasping what it fundamentally means. We get so wrapped up in what we believe and that our beliefs justify our actions that we don’t necessarily care who agrees or disagrees with us. In doing so, we’ve created such disparity between those who agree and those who don’t so that there’s this “Us vs. Them” mentality. There’s nothing right or just about perceiving anyone who doesn’t share your point of view as an enemy.
There’s nothing wrong with a difference of opinion. I don’t perceive Muslims as an enemy because of what my Christian faith says about them. Redskins’ fans aren’t my enemy because I’m a diehard Cowboys fan. Everyone has their own point of view and their expression of that stance is important to me. But, the issue with is that we all allow our emotional state and beliefs to influence our point of view. But, they aren’t all we have to consider. Sadly, most of the time it’s all we choose to consider.
One of my biggest issues is that I don’t believe what people say about me. I’ve had great things said to me. I’ve had terrible things said to me. I’ve been complimented and I’ve been denigrated. Either way you flip the coin, I’ve not really shown much attention to what really is said about me. It’s not like I can control what comes out of their mouth. Nor, would I try to control what they say. I’m sure they’ve had good reason to speak that into existence. I’m sure that there have been times where they’ve spoken just because they could. Either way, I take what’s spoken of me with a grain of salt. Even more so when I know they’re full of shit.
I suppose the real issue with this whole idea is that when it is spoken, they speak in such a way that it is the truth. Seeing the world as it exists today, I don’t think that really anyone can speak with that kind of absolute certainty. I mean, just look at how we are now. So many of us act with such disdain and contempt for one another. Some act on religious principle. Some act out of some ethnic directive. Hell, some people just do it because they feel they can and justify their actions. Either way you cut it, we all have spoken against something or someone just because we hold what we perceive in such esteem that it is above reproach. It’s a nasty trait of Humanity to act hastily and without prudence. Perhaps even taking action based out of ignorance and fear.
Don’t misunderstand me, however. I do also believe we can take the opposite stance and act with full knowledge and understanding. Well, at least in a position where we can act with competence and wisdom. But, how often do we really act in this manner? I can only vouch for myself; but, I don’t really act with competence and wisdom. Maybe with some tactical goals and a rough approach. But, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything where anything has gone off as planned. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’d ever really want for that to happen.
One of the lessons that I’ve felt that has stood out throughout the whole process of getting older and consequently gaining maturity (I don’t even think I’ve gained that…) is that when speaking of the truth, it’s relegated to the one speaking it. A lot of who they are is reflected in what they’re saying and how they say it. As children, we take it so personally just because we don’t know better. It feels like that the word loses its meaning as we grow older and more mature in how we conduct ourselves. We figure out that things are said just out of malice or because our mother said so or a multitude of various other reasons. None of which are necessarily representative of the facts; rather, how what is spoken makes us feel.
As a result, it’s been a challenge to stop speaking in that manner. It’s a hard method to unlearn considering where we speak from most of the time. By nature, if we speak our mind, we just repeat what is spoken to us. If we speak from our heart, we color our statements with our emotions and it’s difficult to be objective and fair. It’s hard to be logical when we ourselves aren’t logical beings. It’s even more difficult to be objective and fair when circumstances and politics may demand that how we feel or what we may want to be rendered meaningless and even undesirable.
From a matter of personal experience, people don’t react well to the word “should.” You “should” do this. You “should” do that. To me, it’s a word that coerces others to action. As a result, we start to take sides. To me, taking a side means insinuates loyalty or allegiance to something or someone. To me, taking sides and being in an agreement are not the same thing. I’ve been told what I “should” do on many occasions. Not only did I disagree with them, I also found myself in a situation where that disagreement caused a conflict of interest. Since when does a disagreement cause a conflict of interest? Well, I can tell you that such a thing only occurs when one action doesn’t support the agenda of another. Because of those unnecessary conflicts, I’ve found that “truth” as most people understand it an impossible concept. Not because it may or may not necessarily exist, but it is colored by our own unique understanding of it. From a literal perspective, truth cannot naturally exist. There are too many opinions and beliefs surrounding what an individual or group may perceive it as for it to not be misrepresented at some level or another.
I don’t know about so many others; but, I’ve been a victim of such posturing. I’m sure a lot of us have. It doesn’t make sense to suffer loss after loss because of such unnecessary conflict. It’s okay to have a different opinion or belief. Nobody will blame you for holding different ideals in esteem. It is going to happen. It’s a fact of Life. It’s part of our humanity to have convictions and to stand by them. I don’t think we could honestly be any different. We believe these things and we don’t have much choice other than to act in accordance with them. Even if these things are misrepresented through intent or no intention alike. We feel like that there just isn’t a choice. We have to believe in something, right? We have to take a side. We have to agree. The sad realization is that those are two very different things to do and that we don’t always see the distinction between them.
However, as time wore on for me personally, I learned that I could have my own intellect and wisdom but still have the freedom to explore different points of view and the opportunities they offered. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me to understand that I didn’t have to take sides to be in agreement or disagreement. But, I did have to be brought to understand their point of view. Having an open mind is definitely not the easiest thing to have or even to find yourself in possession of and it requires a lot of patience and wisdom. Of, that I have no doubt and I still have trouble being able to find a consistent grasp on what it means to have one. Having an open mind requires us to be free. Free from preconception, judgment, bias, and free to be able to act without those instincts. As a result, I’ve been given some vision about a lot of things that I wouldn’t have been able to even see at all had I been under the influence of all those things before. Granted, I’m not perfect and I won’t ever claim to be. I still act like those things and I still live in ignorance about a great number of them. It’s still a learning experience. Letting go of all those things is difficult to do. It may prove impossible to achieve. Or, is it really?
There is still so much left to discover and explore about ourselves and the rest of the universe to sit here with a straight face and say that everything we have to gain knowledge of and place belief in is it. That’s foolish to say considering that even now, on many levels, have a hard time coming to terms with our own differences. Humanity, as a society, is so militant and hostile towards each other because of the lengths we go to because of the beliefs we have. I don’t believe that even if we are directed and justified in doing so, that we are acting righteously. I can’t believe the gravity of doing so offers any semblance of hope for our collective and individual futures. I also can’t believe that a difference of beliefs offers any unity either. Especially considering all of the cultural and religious differences that are so prevalent now, unity seems to be an ever diminishing possibility for all of us. In spite of all of those things, there is one thing that I really can find hope in the possibility, that one day, once we set aside all of our points of view, beliefs, moral, and ethical justifications… that one day, we can arrive at a common understanding that gives definition to who we are, why we are here, and what our place in the universe actually is.
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
-Leonard Nimoy as Ambassador Spock
It’s a little bit ironic, Mr. Nimoy. Don’t you think?