Tuesday, November 3, 2009
What Does Truth Have To Do With It?
He has been officially separated from his wife and even lives in another state. He comes into town every weekend to visit the kids and spends the weekends on the driveway or in the garage (where he is allowed to be). The kids don’t want to be around him, they blame him for everything. He doesn’t know that we know about it. He still pretends that he is commuting back and forth and that the house is theirs and everything is ok. I don’t say anything one way or the other, I don’t want to intrude and I don’t want to be drawn into the drama. I go along with his stories even though I have heard the ugly version from his wife. This is a story of someone I casually know and spending the weekend listening to him tell his story to others, I realized how much he still might believe it to be true.
He made me think about the stories I exchange with others. Once we repeat the same story over and over, we believe it too. It’s what politicians do best, it is what churches and other religious institutions have done for centuries, it is what corporations do (except their disgruntled employees know otherwise, and spread their own stories. But the corporations are more powerful and can spread their stories more efficiently and can reach a wider audience), it’s what families and cultures do, and on and on it goes. In fact, when we get together with people, it provides the perfect opportunity to exchange our stories. He tells his story, we tell ours, or someone else’s whose story we like, and pretty soon by the end of the gathering we leave more convinced that our story is indeed true, especially if others bought into it and we even have some fresh stories that we can spread around.
In my neighborhood, the common story is about H1N1 vaccinations. Having two school aged kids, I admit, I get sucked right into it. We all share our knowledge about the latest whether it be which pediatrician is giving them out to which towns have been inoculated to conspiracy theories, etc. We are all concerned about our children’s health and probably our own too. We are frustrated with the fact that there is no clear communication about where and when we can get vaccinated. We are unclear about how serious this threat is. In summary, we don’t have enough information. And because it might be a matter of life and death (especially when we listen to the nightly news and hear about the town next to ours who had the latest fatality, etc.), we go into fear mode. This is the perfect environment for creating drama to feed into our fears. The feeding keeps the fear alive and strong, it makes us be right, so it feeds into our self-righteousness, we keep on talking and obsessing about it, we attract those who might not have been afraid, and it keeps on getting bigger and bigger. At this point, we are willing to lie, cheat and steal to get the vaccine, which I am afraid I am seeing happen in my neighborhood.
So, what happened to the truth? And does it matter? At this stage in the game, you have chaos and fear together hand in hand with extremely strong convictions and delusions about matters of life and death of young children! This is an extremely dangerous concoction that could easily get out of control. I know with my neighbors, that no one at this stage is really interested in the truth. They just want the vaccine. Going back to my friend with his delusions about his life and marriage, I wonder how interested he is in the truth. Once you live inside the stories that you have created, you have no reason to be interested in what may be considered as neutral and disarming. From my perspective, accepting a failed marriage and visiting the kids at the court appointed times is a lot easier to handle than travelling back and forth every weekend, sitting in a cold rental car, waiting for kids who don’t want to see you, and lying to everyone you meet. On the other hand, his choice of lifestyle is more exciting, complicated, exhausting, and sure to draw sympathy from whomever might know the truth. He also gets to avoid the pain that he might feel if he accepted his role in the dissolution of their marriage. And as a bonus, there is the possibility that she might feel sorry for him one day and let him come inside and his story would be true after all.
Whether we are living inside our human-made stories in our personal lives, or out there in mass consciousness which is fed by us, the media, and all of our friends and families, we are separated from the truth. We believe what we want to believe, and we have done it enough times that we believe that it is the truth. We spend our lives proving our stories to be true and because everyone else is doing it too, we have no reason to stop. The only time we stop is when we are tired of the drama, we are in search of the truth, or our story got so out of hand that we got called on it. So, the next time you find yourself convinced of something that does not bring you peace of mind/heart/soul and body, ask yourself if it is true. Is it true that you have to do whatever it is you are doing, is it true that the government is out to get you, is it true that your life is going to end if you leave your job, your family, your (fill in the blank), is it true that she/he hates you, etc. Is it really true?