Some argue it is a basic human liberty to have faith in whatever knowledge we want, even if it has been proven to be false or heresy. Others argue that we live in society, therefore, every human action or liberty ought to be considered not only from the perspective of the individual but from the perspective of the collective as well. I cannot say which side I lean towards. I know that there are very valid arguments for both. There are beliefs that have very real consequences to the collective and so should not be considered lightly, for example, if a person believes there is nothing wrong with having sex with a minor, this belief doesn’t only affect the individual who believes this but is one that has real costs and consequences to the collective. So it is important to ask ourselves: When is the diversity of truth beneficial and when can it be harmful? Like everything, I suppose it is a matter of balance. We need there to be some people always who believe or who claim to know for certain something contrary to the rest of us; it allows us to know the boundaries of our own beliefs, of what we deem to be true, of where the borders of our morality lie.
For any society to be healthy and for the people and other living beings in it to coexist safely together, there must be a balance between freedom and truth because even the best of virtues in excess can be poisonous. Too much unchallenged truth turns into doctrine, and too much unchallenged freedom turns into chaos. We need the forces outside of us to constantly be in perfect tension with each other, just like a guitar string needs to be to produce the perfect melody. It is that constant tension between things that keeps everything in the universe working perfectly. It is that constant ebb and flow of forces that allows for balance to occur. Here tension acts as a peace keeper. And this is true even with the forces shaping our own internal experiences. If there is no back and forth between the voices within us, we would be too certain of ourselves, of our decisions, of who we are, of where we are. It is that little bit of doubt that creates the tiniest wiggle room necessary for transformation. We wouldn’t change or evolve if everything was so fixed in its way. It is the other that challenges, it is the other that helps us realise ourselves. It is the other too that invites us closer to balance. So why are we always trying so hard to eradicate the other?
Difference is beautiful and should be celebrated. And when it scares us, we should approach it with caution instead of immediately trying to extinguish it.
“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.”
I will leave you here on this note to contemplate your own personal Others, maybe even say thank you to them for challenging you.
Some time ago, I was preoccupied with the question of why we have emotions. I wanted to understand what they were, what purpose they served. And all that kept coming back to me was this one word — perspective. Emotions, each of them, seemed to be articulating experiences from one specific angle. Different emotions can offer us different experiences of the exact same thing. And all these perspectives do not negate one another. Instead, they offer the insight that there are always multiple truths. I believe emotions are the tool through which we can ease into the idea of multiple realities. The wide range of emotions we are able to experience allows us to consider our lives from an equally wide range of lenses. And that means that there is no single narrative that holds true more than another. Sadness, for example, does not negate the truth of anger, and neither does anger negate the truth of joy. Emotions allow us to consider the possibility that the truth is diverse.
I only understand now what it means when they say, the truth is in your heart, because I understand now what feeling offers us. You see, when you feel, you know that what you feel is true. And there are as many truths as there are feelings. When you feel, you know that no matter how hard your mind tries to convince you that there is only one objective truth, you know without a shadow of a doubt that that is simply not true, and all because you can feel. Emotions are the eyes in our hearts that allow us to perceive and experience the real truth — that there is no truth. It is precisely this subjectivity that our emotions offer us that makes us human, that makes us kind, that makes us tolerant, that allows us to accept that the Other might also be justified in their version of the truth because that is simply how they feel. You see, when we are able to discard the idea of a single Ultimate truth, only then can every other possibility of the truth open up to us and greet us.
I believe emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience for precisely the reason that they stretch us to tolerate the idea of multiple truths, and in that way, emotions act as bridges of communication between us and other realities. They ease us into the possibility that there might be more than what each of us individually experiences, that other dimensions could exist, that anything really could be. Anyone who has experienced the world from a place of fear will tell you it is a very different place to a world experienced from a place of love. And anyone who has experienced themselves from a place of anger will tell you they met a very different person to the one they met from a place of joy. It is not only the Universe that we can experience from multiple dimensions, it is our Selves! Emotions connect all these different experiences of self together. Emotions show us we are more than who we were when we were sad, that we are not who we are when we are happy. Emotions are our gift, one that allows us to entertain the possibility that there might not be a single story to us, but rather an endless possibility of stories.