Over the past several months the common thread in most of the more personal and introspective posts on here have discussed raw levels of Honesty and Freedom. One dealt with honesty and behavior while dealing with those of different ideas. The post is here and another on personal labels. Both expand deeper into fundamentals on this topic.
For those who have not read the previous posts on this thread let me encapsulate the idea. The entire premise is this:
If a man is to be free, he must be honest with himself. It is when a man is honest with himself that he can see the encumbrance that impedes his freedom. For freedom to flourish men must also be honest with one another. It is not until a man is honest with himself that he is able to be honest with another. In that honesty both men are able to find truths. It is from honesty that truth springs eternal. When men do not encumber the truth with themselves they further their own freedom and define greater truths with those around them. As truths develop and grow between men, a trust forms. It is as an honest individual that may share truth with another. And in that truth one will know they are able to trust because they have seen and experienced the honesty and same truth another has shared with them. When trust is nurtured a relationship is formed.
It is important to note that in this scenario not all men, even when honest with themselves and others, will begin from a point of agreement all of the time. It is here that this post begins.
It is easy for us to look to our left or right in a church pew, hold a bible and declare we are believers. This is probably one of the easiest truths to display and share amongst those that share our faith. Look at a church community. It is tight knit, like minded and moving in a similar direction with a trust or a faith of their conviction. Man did this for centuries before Christ walked the earth. And as soon as Christ injected himself into the discussion, as what is undoubtedly an honest and free man, the whole scenario was turned upside down. People began to dissent and take sides. They asked “Is he the messiah or not?” People began forming their truth. People encumbered their truth. People questioned their truth. People found truth. I use this example because it is one that demonstrates the idea of truth and honesty.
There is no man that holds a whole truth, besides Christ, no matter how honest he may be. No matter how certain of his conviction he has but a piece of the truth. His piece may be a large one or a small one. Here is where the encumbrance part comes into play. If a man through arrogance or lack of wisdom allows himself to think that his truth is the only truth possible or the whole truth, then he encumbers the truths bounds and retards its ability to grow. Truth is alive and needs nourishing to flourish.
How many times have we found ourselves in dialogue with a person that we have little to no agreement with? If you are a human, often. When we find our self in this scenario next, let’s slow our thoughts and tongues down and open our ears. That is not to suggest that we listen to the sounds closer. It is to suggest that we listen to the words of the other for their honesty on which they have formed their kernel of the truth. All the time remembering that we too have formed a kernel of truth. It becomes a belief.
Beliefs should be respected. Not to say that we must agree all of the time, but when a man is honest with himself he may find a different truth than that of which we accept.
“The truth” (and ultimately there is only one) is so much larger than any individual. A person may find a piece to a truth that is so far removed from our understanding of the same truth yet it is connected. It is the honest holding of a truth that must be respected, not just the truth. This in itself lends to a formation of trust.
If there is no past relationship with this individual it is harder to trust their self-honesty on the matter. After all, we have never shared before.
If we are speaking within a circle of those that have shared thoughts, truths, ideas and know them to be honest of self and to others, it makes it easier for us to hear their words and their meaning. So, given we have a sense of trust we can begin to remove ourselves from the distance that is in between our two truths and try to find connections between them. If we are willing to admit as free men that there exists a common ground between the two truths then we begin to form a larger truth based upon honesty.
Back to the Church scenario for a second. If all we do is share among likeminded people then we can only grow or nurture a very likeminded view of the truth. It is when we reach beyond that circle or perimeter of our comfort that we begin to hear and consider other parts of the same truth. I guess a good example would be a Pentecostal Preacher and a Rabbi discussing salvation. Two different truths each as real to the other as it is to themselves. If both men approach the dialogue from a position that removes their self from the truth, then they can begin to further the truth. If each man encumbers the truth with himself, then discovery is over.
Today we as a people are being taught that there can only be one truth of self and that others of a different truth are enemy. This is just not the case. I am going to continue using the church scenario as it is less cloudy than most on honesty and truth. That is not to say this is a post on religion, it is not.
There are many variations to a theme in church communities and factions amongst its parishioners and faiths. All have a common ground truth of which they share. They believe in a God Almighty. They have a level of trust amongst themselves because of this common truth they share. When one or a group amongst them has a different part of the truth that conflicts with what others see as the only or whole truth of their own, most often they spate. That is to say that a quick, strong flow of ideas and kernels of truth comes flowing forward from both. More often than not they collide in a furor of strong defensive language from each other. What is lost is the gain. Generally we are instantly trying to defend our kernel when our truth is challenged.
This is a clue. If we feel the need to defend our truth, then there is probably some truth in the other person’s position. (I am not talking about outright dishonest attacks on our truths that are purely evil in nature) It is ok to question your truths. It is really a necessary exercise to keep our truth honest. It means we are living the truth with a foundation of honesty.
We must not allow our self to encumber the truth when it confronts us in a way that we feel threatened by it. Doing so closes us off from seeing what the other holds as a truth. We should not instantly begin trying to convince the other that we hold the only truth. We are but a part of the truth and understand but a part. We must each openly seek the part of the truth the other has discovered so that we too may hold a larger portion of the truth. This is not always comfortable and not easy.
When you have a circle of those who have common faith and belief, it is best to seek those in that circle with whom we disagree. In doing so we are able to hear about their truth. Said another way, we have common ground established within our circle. Work from the common ground to build and learn. Not one of us has all the answers or a total truth. We need to hear what those who hold honest conviction have to say. We should look for the kernel of truth that they hold and find a common ground between us. In doing so we expand our truth and make it easier for others to find us. We are united under ideas and truth. We are stronger as individuals and as a circle.
So to summarize. Shut up every once in a while and listen to those who hold a different view of the truth. It is not easy. Ask questions as an intelligent man would and attempt to follow their explanation of their truth. From that, if you are lucky enough over time, you may form a common ground with one that you never shared any before. This is how we heal. This is how we strengthen ourselves as a people. Let us be civil with those we disagree with. Not doing so will only work to further weaken and divide.
It is not always necessary for us to espouse our truth or try to “change the hearts and minds”. We can do that through example. If each of us lives our life as a free man, we will be what others want to be. Free. They will see and want the same. So simple, yet so very hard.
The thinking mind has already seen several roads that we can take this conversation. I think I may walk down the road of self-honesty and still arriving at false truths. Can there be a false truth for an honest man ?
~ Eric D. Miller – 2014