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Belief is more powerful than Truth

Belief is more powerful than Truth

Illusions, believe your own Truth

Over the past few weeks, watching Donald Trump start a dangerous and painful period in human history, one of the most difficult things for many to grapple with has been the search for the truth. In classic narcissist behaviour, Trump and his team have used a number of techniques to manipulate, hide, and alter information to leave a largely confused population scrabbling to establish just what the truth is. It’s a cruel and masterful control tactic. It creates confusion, fear and division as the various factions fight to defend the position that, in their belief, is the truth. Perhaps what we need to learn to understand, is that the most powerful word in the previous sentence is not truth, but belief.

The Truth in relation to fact, is a rare thing and sometimes not as valuable as we think it should be. The Truth in relation to honesty, has a huge value, but more in terms of the honesty itself, than in what it may reveal. Because the truth is, we each have our own truth. And it becomes our truth, because we have been conditioned for it to be so. I have been blessed (and cursed) with a brain that always wanted to know the real truth, to find the answer. And then a few years ago my wife died – and I was faced with the truths and the questions that I would raise, but for which I could find no answer. About the meaning of life, about God, about death. And I kept on trying to find some answers, until I finally realised that there were none and that were no truths – and if there had been, they would have been irrelevant. What mattered, were my beliefs. 

Trump’s fake news, alternative facts and misinformation have brought that period of search back to me. And it made me think about the nature of truth in our lives. Trump is certainly not the first US President or World leader to use the tactics of fear and confusion – far from it, though he is probably one of the least subtle! So I thought about history in general; that we learn about history from the records and from our teachers, we accept what we are told as fact. But actually, all that we have most of the time, is a perception of what happened from one or more persons point of view. A record gleaned from someone having being there and witnessed some part of it, or having seen a photograph or unearthed a relic from the past. But because we receive this information from people or records that we respect, we accept it as truth. But really, it was only their truth. Just like Chinese whispers, that truth has been handed down and reconceived, polished, altered based on the viewpoint of others.

But we do not have to accept the truth of others.

Beauty is Truth
"Truth is Beauty" at The Burning Man - sculpture by Marco Cochrane, San Francisco Bay Area

We can hold on to our own truth, or we can choose to change it if we encounter a viewpoint that affects our understanding. But it is often futile to spend time trying to find “the real truth”. More often than not it either does not exist or is irrelevant.

So what really matters is what you believe. And whatever you believe, remain true to it. And know that you cannot change the beliefs of others. What you can do, is talk about, practice and reinforce your own beliefs. In doing so, you may influence others, but change will be of their own will, not because you tried to control or have power over them. Trump does not care that we might be saying negative things about him, he does not care that he gets caught out in a lie, all that matters is that we keep talking about it – because that distracts us from the reality and keeps us from focusing on our beliefs and making progress with our own agendas. Which is exactly what it wants, to take away our freedom of thought. The way to take that power and control away from him is to stop seeking the truth about what he and his team say and concentrate on your own truth and your own beliefs and upholding them. You are one of many. The force of good in this World far outweighs the force of evil. There obviously have to be controls to deal with extreme and harmful situations, but in my view, the general balance is better cultivated by simply concentrating on upholding the beliefs that you believe to be good.

I can tell you this for sure; that when I looked into the eyes of my wife and saw the light leave her as she passed from this life , the only things she took with her were love and the knowledge that she lived her life fully and being true to herself. And in the end, that was all that mattered.

I have no idea how Trump’s Presidency will ultimately be recorded in history, but what I do believe is that he will teach the world some very important lessons, about the real nature of truth and freedom. And one of those lessons will be to stop trying to find the truth, it is a diversionary tactic that confuses and controls. Instead, think about your own beliefs. Live them, share them and be honest and true to them. The Universe will do the rest.

Dancing in the light

Dancing in the light

Sunset over Sansepolcro Italy

With loss we stand in darkness, feel its enveloping pain
Folded in its silence anguish courses through our veins
With arms wrapped tight around our isolated soul
We ache for consolation from the one who made us whole
If we could feel it for a moment, that breath against our skin
If only one more touch, then we promise to begin
To fill that empty void that eats us from within

Is she there in that blackness, can she see me through the dark
Can she hear my desolation as it rips into my heart
If I stay in here forever will I feel her by my side
Will she let me know she’s with me, will she always be my guide
The questions we can’t answer are the ones that make us see
That only faith, trust and love are what will set us free
Our blindness is our vision that we can only let it be

When the dawn of understanding rises up into the sky
And the warmth of the sun melts the ice of asking why
Our journey carries on, still connected by our souls
We are one, we are together, we are individually whole
Emerging from the darkness, from that never ending night
I see her now more clearly and I know the time is right
To let go, for she is happy, she is dancing in the light

A Grief Observed – C. S. Lewis

"Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything."

C S Lewis's A Grief Observed was recommended to me by a MacMillan nurse who had been involved in Maria's care and

C S Lewis and Ivy Davidson
C S Lewis and his wife Ivy Davidson

who had come to know us personally - and the nature of our relationship. She had come to visit me to find out if I was coping - or not. I had explained to her that everything felt pointless now. That life had no meaning. She talked me through that as best she could and recommended I read his book.

I read it about 3 months after Maria passed.

I am specific about the timing because the book, which is about the loss of Lewis's wife Ivy Davidson to cancer, is a painfully, sometimes brutally, honest diary of his grief. I sometimes found it difficult to read because it cuts through that cloak of denial we wrap around ourselves in order to protect us from the harsh reality of the truth. But in that, I was also able to identify with his precise articulation of the overwhelming, debilitating sense of utter emptiness. As if your core has been completely ripped out. Leaving a void. A void that somehow endlessly aches. He also describes the seemingly perpetual loop of feelings, disbelief, anger, fear that we find ourselves in. In a way, the fact of his frank openness gave me a level of empathy I was unable to find elsewhere.

“For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.”

Lewis also addresses the subject of faith. This was a subject that would come back for me, but at the time of reading, I didn't factor it as part of my healing. Neither Maria nor I believed in God. For him, the circumstance of his wife's death makes him question his faith. It was the first time I recognised faith as needing to be blind, like love. A matter of total and utter trust regardless of the tests that life asks of it. Of you.

Ultimately, the book provides the light at the end of the tunnel as Lewis comes through the depths and emerges from the dark. From that perspective, it was the first inkling that I would find a way forward.

A painfully honest diary of deep griefA Grief Observed is a short but penetrative read, it condenses so many aspects of grief that repeat and echo through the journey. As a scholar and philosopher, C S Lewis is adept at crystallising the emotional, physical and metaphysical impact of his experience, much of which I have found to be a mirror of my own. I would add a caution, though I found it to be an essential read, timing is, in my opinion, essential. You need to be ready to look in the mirror and fully accept your feelings and the truth of grief. For those who are not grieving but wish to understand its impact, this couldn't be a more powerful read.

Available from Amazon on this link.