Long before we heard of SARS COV-2, it was a good thing to have a reliable Truth-O-Meter. That unerring inner sense of the rightness of things and the validity of them. An internal measure of the degree of the falseness of a situation, a word, an article, or a person.
It’s all the trend now to assess and have someone else assess, and validate, the truth of what is being said. I love these articles that have “fact-checked” written at the top with a little check mark symbol next to it. It’s completely meaningless, as you know. Oh, you don’t? Okay, you ask anyone who agrees with your point of view to review what you have written, and they say, “yes, it’s true,” based on their beliefs and the degree to which they have looked into an issue and investigated reliable and unbiased sources (which, by the way, are becoming increasingly hard to find). Or based on the degree to which they want to stay on the right side of the person who wrote the article. Sometimes the assessing party is neutral and knowledgeable, and sometimes not. So, if you are looking at that check mark as a reliable measure of whether you should believe what is being said…nope.
Truth is a good thing. I like it a lot, and I think we need a way to discern the truth from the moment of our birth, not just in the era of genetically modified coronaviruses. You may have thought truth was the norm until the recent virus conversation began. When Donald Trump began to accuse anyone who disagreed with him of spreading “false news” was not when the news was first being distorted. The Kennedy assassination? No, further than that. Way back. To the beginning of any society where coercion and competition are the norms, and no one seems to feel well taken care of. People learn in these societies that they need to manipulate others to get their needs met. All of us being human, and most of us living in societies with some very dysfunctional norms; this is pretty much the ongoing state of affairs. We alter our views and our behavior according to what we think we need and what we think we aren’t getting. False presentations are the norm. That’s what advertising is all about; presenting something in a way to make you think it’s good, whether it is or not.
Nowadays, the whole lens of truthfulness has been coopted and altered so that people of all different views simply point fingers, accuse the other person of “misinformation,” and then sit back feeling arrogantly content that they are right and you are wrong. I am reminded of kids at a playground. “I don’t like you.” “Your mamma wears sneakers.” Just tit-for-tat name-calling means nothing.
I have been lucky. From a young age, I had a very acute sense of when someone was lying to me. It was just a feeling really. My mom would say things like “everything is going to be okay” in reference to my Dad’s failing health, and my Truth-O-Meter would drop to a maybe. I would hear, “don’t cross your eyes because if you walk into a telephone pole, your eyes will be crossed forever.” I doubted it. Some overweight white man with a big beard was going to come down our chimney and leave us gifts? I didn’t think so. Black cats? Ladders? I never believed any of it, and I often wondered, when listening to adults talk, why they lied so much. All the times they said “I don’t mind” when they clearly minded. Some of those statements I was definitely uncertain if they contained truth. Such as “your grandmother means well” when she was so incredibly unpleasant to interact with. Maybe she did, and it just didn’t show.
But isn’t truth relative? What about point of view? There are certain variable truths. Like when I am sitting with a couple who are talking about an experience they both had. They were in the same room at the same time, heard completely different things, came to completely different conclusions, and had totally different feelings about what they witnessed. Is there an ultimate truth in the experience, or is everyone’s truth determined by the filter of their personal history? You may have noticed that on one day, your girlfriend, with great sincerity, tells you her hard-drinking spouse is a total monster who she cannot tolerate being with anymore, and on another day, he is a hard-working guy who’s trying his best. Is she talking about the same person? Did he change overnight, or does her truth change? Maybe she is just fibbing?
In my experience, human truths are a bit relative, our perspective changes easily, and our view is very much colored by whatever pair of shades we have over our eyes that determine how we see things in that moment. Emotions are powerful influencers of our ability to see the truth. Our hopes and fears are powerful influencers as well. When we truly believe that someone else is better or smarter than we are, we are inclined to believe what they say, no matter what, and often to our detriment. Because of this, it is really important for us to practice neutrality, practice discernment, do our own homework, and refrain from believing any old thing someone says because of their role or their position. In short, we need to develop our own inner Truth-O-Meter and keep it in really good shape. We could even adopt this attitude when we encounter something being passed off as true: “Maybe it’s true, and maybe it isn’t.” “Maybe it’s true for you and not for me.” Or, “Maybe I don’t know, so I’m keeping an open mind.”
Are there ultimate truths, or are we just awash in an uncertain sea of variability with no reliable compass to help us steer in the right direction? Yes, there are, and they are all spiritual truths and natural laws. We find truth everywhere; no matter what, what we do has consequences. Nature will always create diversity and will also maintain balance in those diverse environments. What we truly believe will be reflected back to us in our lives. An active spiritual life is necessary, not simply desirable because this is how we center ourselves in truth. In whatever way you connect to your God, your Higher Power, or your Divine Source, it is in that connection that it is easiest to see and know the truth. Confusion comes from us trying to overthink, over-manage, and over-regulate our lives from the point of view of our egos and without Divine Input. It’s that spiritual listening practice that is so important to help us keep our sense of Truth intact.
So next time you have an opportunity to determine if something holds truth, slow down, breathe, and pray for awareness. Then see how it feels intuitively. If something feels “off,” it probably is. In your prayers, ask to be guided by truth. Then, for the sake of social harmony, see if you can hold space for others to have a different take on it and let them have their version of the truth without the name-calling and the check marks. It’s just a better way to move through this incredibly diverse world we live in.