Monday, February 23, 2009

This I Believe

We're all delusional. The more I think about it...and the more I talk to people...the more I believe this. We believe what we want to. We write stories more in retrospect than we realize. We sew up holes. We use words like hope and faith to bridge the gaps between memory, reality, and fear.

We're all delusional. But is there any other way to live? Can you really not believe in anything? Some guiding story? Some authority to give meaning to what you do or do not do?

We simply choose to believe things because we must...or we are inclined or convinced to. And this doesn't make the stories untrue. It just makes them arbitrary. And I think that's what's hard for most of us to accept.

I know a great many folks (myself included) who've staked their lives on a particular perspective / story / way. And these people are trying to live beautiful lives. And I respect that. But it gets harder and harder to believe that what we're high on is Truth. It's truth bent by experience bent by truth. Art informing life informing art.

We're all delusional. But is it better to know everything and believe in nothing? I wonder.

11 comments:

Dan said...

You should read (or re-read) The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. It's all about delusions, stories, re-inventing our stories, etc.

Everyone reads this in high school, but it doesn't really make sense until it's read as an adult.

Micah Andrew Hasty said...

great thoughts.
i've definitely staked my life on a particular Way.
I'm reminded of Paul's words where he writes about how if Christ was not crucified all is lost. He says that w/o Christ being God all we hold dear and are doing now is foolishness.
how much of what we know is delusion or our own story?

The Misfit Toy said...

what do you mean by "believe"? if the only way to believe is to think that you are on to the Truth, and 99% of the world has sadly missed it, then yes, it is better to believe in nothing.

but that kind of belief is toxic to humans. it makes them seperate from, pity, and de-humanize the un-believers.

it seems to me you are drawing the conclusion that if something is really true, it will demand that kind of belief.

i'd like to think that the humility about the existence our own delusions doesn't kill the idea of truth.

so, is there such a thing as truth which does not require this kind of belief?

i feel like am in water too deep for me, but last time i was down here, the guy talking up a storm of beauty and power on this very subject was pete rollins. i know he is "roll your book weary eyes" the new cool kid, but the reason he is cool is that he is talking about this very thing.

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

What I mean by truth and story is something that shapes the values that we live by. By believe, I mean, truly aligning ones actions with the values their story suggests.

And if there is truth that doesn't demand that we "believe it" in this sense, what difference does it make? If there really is no color red, who cares? We all see it, delusional or not.

What I'm saying in a nutshell is this: We call on things like authority, tradition, texts, "pragmatism", communities to help us draw meaning from our lives, to help us feel like we're moving toward or away from something. But, I think more and more that these stories are arbitrary.

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

And can't that be beautiful and humble? That each other's story is arbitrary, yet s/he still chooses it?

Amos said...

well spoken, ryan.
amos

Micah Andrew Hasty said...

I don't think that if I'm arbitrarily believing in a story that is not true it's not beautiful at all. It's sad. I've then wrapped my whole life around believing a lie. I've chosen to believe it but, it's not beautiful.

I'm not trying to bring a rise to conflict just trying to work through this in my mind. Your post has really caused me to rethink some things.... as always. : )

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

Micah, I don't know that I'd say that it'd be a lie simply because it isn't some sort of universal truth. I think this is the unfair binary conversation. Either it's true or false. But I think those are categories that reality transcends.

It's not sad. Just not the only story to live by.

Micah Andrew Hasty said...

Is the fact that reality transcends what is true or false a true statement or a false statement?

So are you saying that our stories aren't universal truths but rather individual truths that shift and change based on our arbitrary choices?

I'm sorry if I'm being frustrating I'm just really trying to understand it. Message me on facebook if you'd like so we can continue our conversation.

The Misfit Toy said...

maybe we are disagreeing on this:

does it matter why we do things, what we do, or what results our actions produce?

seems like the further along in that sentence you get, the more you would be happy to have people's "truth" be anything they want it to be, as long as they make the world well by living in it.

maybe i'm more early in that sentence than you are.

have no idea where the "right" place to be, on that is, just marvelling at how people see things differently.

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

I gotta eat lunch and drive 14 hours and revise a magazine, so I'm going offline on this. Michael, we'll pick this up tomorrow at your place. :)