the art of truth
We are all much more alike than we are different, but we are not all the same.
This is the beauty of individualism.
Growing up, many of us learn that there is no one like us. We are unique.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” - Dr. Seuss
But who are “you?”
This is a much larger conversation than we’ll cover today, but “you” are the collection of experiences, beliefs, morals, ideals, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, wealth, and memories that have been acquired since the day “you” were born.
“You” don’t get to choose much of what makes the collection, but you do get to choose what you learn from it and how you react to it.
What makes “you” and “me” different? Our collection, of course.
No two people have the same collection of experiences, beliefs, morals, ideals, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, wealth, and memories.
We share many of them with one another, but we all have our own, one-of-a-kind story to tell.
This means we all have a slightly different view of the world from one another.
Imagine this… There are 7.5 billion different pairs of glasses in a bucket. (That’s a BIG bucket!)
No two pairs are the same. We each grab one pair out of the bucket and put them on.
As we walk around, we observe the world around us.
We talk with one another and describe what we’re seeing. At first, we marvel at how different our views are from one another.
My sky is red, and your sky is yellow.
The sun is bright in your eyes but not nearly as harsh in mine.
After a while, the novelty of our different perspectives begins to fade.
I get so used to seeing the sky as red, that I forget you don’t have the same pair of glasses as me. I get tired of your complaints that the sun is bright because I’m wearing shades. It upsets me that you see pretty stars at night while my sky is pitch black.
We argue for hours defending our viewpoints as the way things actually are, but we haven’t seen things as they actually are since we put on our own pair of glasses.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
What the world refers to as “Cancel Culture” is a very dangerous trend.
What does “Cancel Culture” mean?
Dictionary.com defines the term as “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel Culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.”
If you’re on any form of social media or if you watch or read any sort of news outlets, you’ll see weekly if not daily examples of individuals or brands being torn down online because of something they said or did that others disagreed with.
Are many of these individuals or brands guilty of hate, violence, bigotry, or racism? Absolutely.
Are all of these individuals or brands guilty of hate, violence, bigotry, or racism? Absolutely not.
Today we live in a society where to have an unpopular opinion is ever increasingly becoming a social injustice in itself.
Regardless of how it may seem, there is still truth in the world; however, YOUR truth and MY truth often drowns out THE truth.
What makes THE truth?
What makes YOUR truth or MY truth different from THE truth? Misclassified opinions taking the place of facts.
Opinions should be based on real, hard facts.
Facts should be based on statistics.
Statistics should be based on data.
Data should be based on observation.
Observation should be without bias.
Bias comes from selfishness.
Selfishness comes from pride, and prideful people are often the most opinionated. The folks who think they picked the “best” pair of glasses from the bucket.
“None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.” -Charles Spurgeon
We have real issues in the world, but hate, violence, bigotry, and racism are not the issues in themselves. They are all side-effects of pride.
While many of these side-effects have been exposed recently, they are also being answered with the same actions that caused them in the first place.
When has it ever or will it ever prove productive to answer hatred with hatred? Violence with violence? Bigotry with bigotry? Racism with racism? Never.
So what is the answer?
Throughout history, true, positive change is made when a clear message marries protest.
But, protest without a clear message is rioting.
Rioting is chaos.
Chaos is destruction.
Destruction is loss.
Loss is pain.
Pain demands change.
The cycle repeats and no real change is made.
Widespread or systematic issues will never be solved with widespread or systematic rulings or laws.
Issues are solved with personal interactions and self-reflection on why we are the way that we are, why we do the things that we do, and how we now can become better than others have been in the past.
We must not forget that it is healthy for us to have differing opinions.
What is unhealthy for us all to conform to the same opinion.
Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as “groupthink.”
Psychology Today defines Groupthink as “a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people make irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible. The problematic or premature consensus that is characteristic of groupthink may be fueled by a particular agenda—or it may be due to group members valuing harmony and coherence above critical thought.”
Groupthink is the equivalent of everyone picking the exact same pair of glasses out of the bucket and seeing the world not how it is, but how the individual or group that chose the kind of glasses to go into the bucket wants us to see it.
If no two people have the same collection of life experiences, it is natural that we should all have different opinions. But to have different opinions, we must come to terms with an unpleasant truth..
We cannot change history.
As hateful, violent, bigoted, or racist as the past might be, we only have the power to dictate the present and very little of the future.
Just as we are not to be judged according to the ideals and values of the past, we cannot afford to judge past generations on the ideals and values of today.
“To criticize is to say, you’re not like me.” - Dr. Harry Hall Winters III
Learning from history and reacting to it is much different than trying to erase it. Learning and reacting ensures that history doesn't repeat itself.
Erasing history prevents learning and reacting and sows horrible seeds of the past into the harvest of the future.
While I admire our generation for thinking it possible, we cannot fix all of our problems in one generation.
How can we expect a single generation who lives less than a century to understand or solve the problems that have plagued our societies for millennia?
What we must do is begin to work on ourselves as individuals to understand our collection of life experiences, question our own beliefs and ideals, suppress our pride, and most of all, find a reference point of truth.
What I love so much about my faith is that it serves as a reference point for my words, feelings, actions, and beliefs.
I can constantly compare mine with those of the characters in the Bible, chiefly those of Jesus Christ, to see how I am stacking up.
I’d rather someone have a different faith than mine than no faith at all because at least that person has a point of reference by which to judge his or her words, feelings, actions, and beliefs.
Without a true reference point, even the strongest ships will become swayed and eventually lost at sea.
What’s wrong with “Cancel Culture?”
Cancel Culture has made it dangerously easy for us to block, unfollow, mute, or cancel the opinions, viewpoints, or perspectives of others without even trying to understand their reasoning.
Cancel Culture has made us so quick to talk that we forgot how to listen.
Cancel Culture has made a national pastime out of ruining someone’s legacy, career or future because of something that person said or did even centuries ago that today’s society disagrees with.
Most of all, Cancel Culture has also made us much quicker to call someone else out on their wrongdoings or bigotry and much slower to answer for our own.
Notice, the loudest voices on these subjects are often coming from the ones most fearful of inwardly reflecting on their own shortcomings or prejudices.
My grandfather, Dr. Harry Hall Winters III, also used to say, “When someone raises their voice, lower yours.”
Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” is a great example of this.
When others begin to shout, answer by softening.
When others begin to become violent, answer with peace.
When others begin to condemn you, answer with praise.
Calmer heads will prevail.
Truth wins out in the end, and just as every trend does, “Cancel Culture” will phase out.
It’s only when we recognize that we’re wearing our own pair of glasses that we can cordially compare our views to get a more accurate depiction of the world as it is, rather than as we see it.
I might not always understand you, but I do always love you.
All I ask is that you try to return the favor.