In the last post, I suggested that the most important question of the 21st century is: “Whom or what do you trust?” Our culture is in data overload, giving major attention to the latest “scientific research” and the latest expert, yet not valuing our own wisdom.
I was struck by the following statement in the opening of the latest on-line course to reach my desk: “For centuries most emotions were demonized, viewed as weaknesses and avoided at all costs. But recent research has proven how emotion can be a powerful tool in shaping our connection to others and motivating us to change. [emphasis added]” Yes, emotions were demonized, but why do we need “recent research” to prove the value of emotions — is it not obvious?
My searching for what to trust
I have six university degrees, all of them in some field of science — 21 years of exposure to world knowledge and 73 years of exposure to life. My major interests are consciousness, spirituality and food-nutrition. In all of this, I am aware of shifting fads, mainly driven by greed, said to be “well researched” or “based on recent research.” Yet these fads are generally driven by premises with which I have long disagreed.
Despite years of seeking, I have found no better answer to this question of trust than “I trust myself.” But it has taken a lot of personal growth work to get to this point. And I am very fortunate that I have been able to educate myself in diverse fields. Most people are not that lucky.
I am committed to developing for myself what I call an integrated worldview. I seek a framework for living wherein I am able to fall back on basic principles that guide me in responding to what life offers. This framework must fit with my life experience, and if necessary, I will change the frame to accommodate what life offers. I will not dismiss what life offers so as to hold onto the frame.
The most effective way in which I have done this is to periodically examine my Truths? list — short statements of my beliefs, revisited every year or so to assess if what I have written is still true for me. I started it almost 30 years ago, and it now comprises over thirty pages. It remains incredibly valuable to me.
I recognize that there is much that I do not understand (yet is not to be discarded — it is authentically what life offers). Thus, (metaphorically) I carry a large container of “not knowing.” In contrast, much of what I encounter is someone else’s explanation of what life offers — I do discard much of this, unless it offers truth.
What I trust
- I trust my Truths?, my searching for understanding.
- I trust my own experience (which I corroborate with my integrated worldview): my civilization is in trouble; there is massive social inequity (the dynamics of power); there are more people on the roads and in the stores (increasing population); there are more people being anger and frustrated (increasing world stress); the world is getting warmer (global warming).
- I trust the mystical experiences with which I have been gifted: the universe is greater than I am, and I am not in charge. I trust the events of synchronicity that I have experienced — many unexpected turning points have occurred in my life; they have changed me in untold ways.
- I trust the universe as based on four basic premises, what I consider as the moral imperatives (mainly as presented by Thomas Berry in The Great Work): community (everything is connected to everything else), diversity (everything is different from everything else), subjectivity (interiority becomes more obvious with complexity), and change (everything changes over time).
- When these principles are followed, life succeeds. When any one of them is discarded, violations occur.
- I trust scientific principles, but not scientism. (What is often called science these days is often simply data collection based on a particular premise or bias.) I trust the consensus of knowledgeable people, individuals who are recognized experts in their fields, when the underlying principles are consistent with my worldview.
- I trust consensus decisions in native or indigenous communities more than I trust such decisions in ivory tower universities or multi-national corporations: some communities are closer to the earth.
- When the data and/or view does not fit my worldview, yet seems to be consistent with sound science, I hold the information in abeyance, “not knowing.”
- I trust the dynamics of authentic democracy.
- As such, authentic democracy requires I trust the dynamics of nonviolent civil disobedience (but there is risk — the more anger, the less nonviolent behavior).
- I do not trust processes based on the dynamics of power — power corrupts.
- When basic principles are circumvented so as to validate data, I do not trust such processes.
I trust others when it is clear to me that they are seeking their own growth.