Even before I opened my eyes, I knew something was wrong. Peeking out from under the covers, I saw books, lamps, chairs, everything floating around the room as if in a slow-motion tornado. The strangest of all was that when I stood up, rather than floating, I remained standing. My feet steadfast to the ground. Grabbing hold of my walker, I moved through the room as I tried to make sense of what was going on. Then it hit me; the world had finally fallen apart completely. Up to that point, we had been holding on to some semblance of reality and truth. Now, all the competing truths had finally pulled us apart. We knew it would happen eventually.
For years, truth and reality have been losing their objectivity. Many people no longer believe in an absolute truth. Everything is relative or situational. Crowds are clamoring for social justice, but we cannot even agree on what defines it. Recently, the Michigan State Board of Education outlined, in a memo, voluntary guidelines to make schools safer (and supportive) for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Still under development, some of the proposals would call for students: (1) to be addressed by names of their choosing, (2) to use the restroom of their liking, and (3) to have access to the locker room in accordance with their gender identity. Of course, these recommendations ignited a new uproar. The rights of one group are in conflict with the rights of other groups. Somehow, we have lost our way.
Rather than focusing on the merits of the above recommendations, I want to go back to the loss of truth and reality in our lives. How many of us are swirling around the room with the furniture? Are we willing to stand firm and gently pull others to the ground with us? Or, are we looking to yank others into submitting to our way of thinking? Do not misunderstand me; I am not advocating debating with others. Arguments just give birth to more arguments. Is it possible to convince a radical to take a more liberal approach? Do mobs act rationally? Can truths be beaten into another?
My wheelchair confines me, but it also has liberated me. Taking time out from all the activities that can fill our day requires consciousness of ourselves and our surroundings. All the competing noise of the world fills our heads. We do not stop to think about what we hear and what we say. Often, at the end of our day, we collapse into bed, grateful that it is over for the time being. We fool ourselves. The world has been pulled apart at the seams. Foolishness swirls around us 24/7.
Dr. Martin Luther King tried to instill wisdom into a world full of noise and hate. We did not listen then. Will we listen now? He said, “In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. ‘Ye shall know the truth,’ says Jesus, ‘and the truth shall set you free.'”
Even though Martin Luther King was talking about the Vietnam War, we can apply the same philosophy to what is happening in our world, our country, and our lives. Reality is now malleable. Our experiences and mindsets will influence how and what we perceive and understand. The difficulty will be defining truth. Some will even contest the existence of truth. Nevertheless, I would like to examine Dr. King’s statements a little further:
- (T)he truth is hard to come by because most…are deceived about themselves. Even though Dr. King was addressing nations, we can decide (our reality) whether or not this comment has validity. Be careful now, I am asking you to choose. Is it true? Are people deceived about themselves? If so, does that make it hard to know the truth? Is there a truth?
- Rationalization and the…search for scapegoats are psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. Situational ethics and the willingness to blame others for our troubles are tools that have used since the beginning. Our unwillingness to acknowledge our weaknesses makes us vulnerable to pride and arrogance. I know the term “sin” is now very unpopular and out of date. However, it would benefit us and help the world to stop its nauseating gyration if we were willing to acknowledge and admit when we have behaved with immorality. Are we ready to consider that acting out with love is better than acting out with selfishness, rationalization, and hate? Are our cataracts so thick and our blindness so severe that we have become comfortable in the darkness?
- He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Although you may now turn away, it is time to delve into spiritual matters. We can no longer afford to live in a fantasy world where there is no absolute truth. The consequences are too great. Our world has lost its bearing, and we are spinning out of control. While I agree that social justices are being violated (sometimes, in the name of God), we need to look squarely in the mirror and account for our own misdeeds. It is we who are spiritually dead, not God. We are so unglued that our lives have no meaning outside of what we think. We put more weight on our current sets of beliefs than we do on authority other than that which aligns itself with us. In fact, we use authority as a club to beat others.
So, what is untruth, then? Will you admit that pretending is just that, pretending? We pretend that we care or that we don’t care. We pretend that we have more money than we do. We pretend that we are not afraid. We pretend and we lie. We want to live a life without rules for us. We might even live a life of poverty and abstinence because of some social conviction we found along the way. Our sacrifices are limited and shallow. All this, the lies, the sacrifices, the abstinence, will fail to satisfy us. Maybe you are the opposite. You live for today; tomorrow be damned. You have rejected all concepts of reality and truth, other than what you have determined them to be. Still, deep down you still crave meaning. You know that untruth exists. If you are bound to deny, suppress, and repress a reality that is greater than you, then you are a victim of your own doing. Your spirit is chained. Break your bondage and acknowledge that if untruth exists, then truth exists.
- Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. “Ye shall know the truth,” says Jesus, “and the truth shall set you free.” Freedom is more than being free from something. It is also a state of being free to be something. I may be bound to a wheelchair, but I am grounded. I am free because I know that both untruth and truth exists. I live beyond any momentary affliction. This decision not to be trapped in a mindset of my own doing does not mean I do not feel the anguish or heartache that is part of life. Instead of being tossed about by every emotional whirlwind, I choose to live outside of my emotional distress for I have an anchor to which I have attached myself. My reality is not limited to my mindset.
Dr. King is respected in many communities; yet, how many people fail to see the connection between Dr. King and his Truth? He aligned himself with Jesus. There is something greater than striving for our gain or, even, for social justice. We have lost our moral compass. If we continue to travel on the winding road of deception, rationalization, and scapegoating, then we will continue to lose our footing in the hurricane of spiritual slavery. There is freedom because there is Truth.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”