The most significant moment of my moral life was the moment I decided to never let fear, or being offended, to keep me from considering whether something is true.
Make that commitment and your life will never be the same. It’s the moral equivalent of taking the red pill.
When you make that decision, you wake up. You start seeing with clarity you never knew was possible. The first thing you start to see is your own fear and defensiveness, how deeply rooted in you they both are, how quickly you become offended and fearful.
Once you wake up to this, you realize that you have lived your whole life trying to keep certain ideas out of your awareness because you knew they would scare, anger, offend, or otherwise upset you.
You almost immediately begin to discover that some of them are obviously and unequivocally true. This is when you realize how deeply you have participated in your own deceit.
You remember how passionately you used to believe this thing and that, how some of those beliefs may have even cost you friends, how you were willing to die on some hills that you now realize were nothing more than anthills all along.
No wonder people are often reactionary, easily offended, and difficult to talk to. The journey I have described is one of constant growth, and growth requires change, and change usually brings fear.
At least until you realize there really is nothing to fear.
You cannot realize this until you decide to vigorously, consciously, and actively seek out the truth, and not be deterred by anything.
When I say “truth” I do not mean some objective truth that can always be argued in a propositional way. I am talking about the truth of what is going on in you in any given moment of time.
“I’m offended. There’s something here I need to look into.”
“That idea scares me. Why? I need to dig into this.”
“That idea makes me mad. What am I mad about really?”
Fact: No idea or opinion, in itself, makes you mad, or offends you, or brings strong emotion. The strong emotion comes from a place in you that is terrified and/or feels deeply threatened in some way. I promise you this is the case.
Part of you thinks, “If this is true, I won’t be able to tell right from wrong any more.”
“If this is true, I won’t understand who God is anymore.”
“If this is true, I might not be able to remain a conservative/liberal anymore.”
“If this is true, everything I thought I knew about [xxx] is wrong.”
“If this is true, then my grandmother/father/teacher/pastor/accountant/mother must have been wrong. That can’t be.”
“If this is true, then what does the Bible mean in [xxx] place?”
“If this is true, what about that two years I spent raising money for [xxx]?”
“This is going to severely affect my religion.”
You hear things all the time that, if you consider them for a few moments, will require large sections of your current understanding to change. This takes time. It sometimes requires that you ask questions that are scary, uncomfortable and not easily answered.
That’s why so many people, most people, just keep getting upset and offended and thinking it’s the ideas themselves, when it’s really how much they have to lose, change, or give up if they take ideas seriously.
The problem is if an idea is true, and you don’t accept it, it really doesn’t matter why. You are living in falsehood.
Both living in truth and living in falsehood bring suffering.
In my next post, I’ll talk about why the suffering that truth brings is better.
Question: Can you think of wrong things you used to believe passionately that it took a lot of courage and honesty to admit to and change? Let me know in the Comments section, below the Subscribe box.