Dying For “Truth”

Watched an interview with a member of ISIS in which he “bravely” announced that he would die for the truth. Oscar Wilde described this kind of thing as, the fatality of faith, and I must say I agree.

Trading in certainties is dangerous and we don’t have to be members of Isis to do that. Be careful of things you feel absolutely certain about. If you’re anything like me, more than often they convey prejudice and preconception.

I’m no cynic, but I wonder to what extent people are prepared to suffer or even to die, not for what is true, but for what they want to be true.

Lets face it, something is not necessarily true simply because people have died for it.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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57 Responses to Dying For “Truth”

  1. “What is truth?” Pilate asked.
    That NT question, seemingly simple, is one of the wisest lines I have ever read (my humble opinion of course).

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    • Don says:

      I agree with you Monika. It is a profound question. Is it something that is always unfolding and never fully captured? How much does it have to do with the growth of consciousness? I don’t know.

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  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    Thank you for this concise yet powerful piece Don. I have often contemplated on the idea that truth has a sliding floor, so to speak, in that our imagined certainties inevitably give way to some further certainty, and then once again in turn to another – an infinite regression of ‘truths’.

    “If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.”

    ― Alan Wilson Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

    With all best wishes.

    Hariod.

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Hariod. I warm to your description of truth – “an infinite regression of truths.” The word “regression” is so apt.The quote by Alan Watts is magnificent. So many people just cannot grasp that kind of revolutionary spirituality.

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      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Many thanks Don; I look forward to reading other commenters’ takes on this subject.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        I must say Hariod that the example of the horizon has played a key role in my understanding of truth. One sees it from a distance and when you get there it extends itself in to another horizon and so on. I’ve seen that as progression. After your comment I’m now trying to see it in terms of regression. Thank you

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    • Hariod Brawn says:

      On my mother’s grave there is this inscription of the words of William Penn:

      ‘Life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.’

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  3. Dan Antion says:

    Great questions and great advice.

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  4. Sadly, this isn’t about truth at all. It’s about fear. People who choose paths of such rigidity do so because inwardly they have such fear they need something to be a fact to feel safe. They have no inner sense of their own well-being or know that they are completely loved and cared for. The tragedy is not that they are willing to die for their cause. The tragedy is that they live without certainty of love.

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  5. AS I read your words I reminded of something I read long ago somewhere — there is truth in everything and not all things are true.

    Challenge is, we want to believe that we have found THE truth — when in fact, what we have found is A truth.

    It is a truth we can live, or die, with – The gift comes in allowing our truth to co-exist in harmony with the truths others hold without trying to kill one another to prove our truth is greater.

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    • Don says:

      So much here to think about Louise, thank you. Looking at your last sentence, I wonder what we do with a truth that refuses to live in harmony with others? Is it a truth, or is it something else? I think there are perceptions of so called truth that make it impossible to live in harmony with. What do you do then?

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    • Val Boyko says:

      Love this Louise. We all have beliefs of what is true and its important to recognize them in others as we have them in ourselves.

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  6. Don, I think we measure truth against love. If my truth hates someone, maybe I need to step back.
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We need to have a personal ‘truth’ to define our values and actions, but how that truth is defined and evolves takes much contemplation, applied critical thinking and mostly, a lot of life experience. I really agree with Louise, that whatever our truth may be, we need to be respect the truth and lives of others.

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    • Don says:

      I like the way you speak of truth evolving, Jacquie. It’s certainly something of the way I see it. I don’t want to sound arrogant or insensitive or even disrespectful when it comes to others, but there are certain values and actions that may be truth to others that I could just never bring myself to respect because they simply go contrary to the very heart of humanity itself. But I’m sure that’s not what you mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. sefeniak says:

    All very interesting. The commentary fascinating. I am not brave enough or sure enough to step into the fray. But I will say this, above all else I would choose life and living. I can’t imagine anything worth dying for. Not faith or what others conceive as truth.

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  9. Val Boyko says:

    MY truth is my thinking.
    My thoughts are not the truth, but my perception of reality.
    THE Truth is beyond thought.
    To find it I must let go of my beliefs and thinking.
    I can relate to Hariod and Noelle on this one Don.
    Great discussion 🙂

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  10. Pre-judice (judging) and pre-conception are exactly what they sound like, they are the unthinking purchase of pre-viously created opinions/directives; they are not paths to any understanding let alone a truth. Truth only get capitalized—monetized, politicized—by the bullying of a consensus and then it loses its always relative personal meaning by becoming absolute law. Thanks for the likes.

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Howard and thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree, when truth ( never quite sure what truth actually means) becomes absolutist, our humanity is degraded, curtailed and imprisoned. The ensuing dullness is a form of death itself.

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  11. nrhatch says:

    As if the truth could be ascertained in simple shades of black and white . . . without shadings of gray.

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  12. You have started a wonderful debate Don, its great to hear the different perspectives of “truth”. Actions always speak the truth and so, those who will die for a “belief” or “cause” but their actions are a lie, do not yet know the meaning of truth.
    Karen

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Karen. I like the way you describe truth as “perspectives of truth,” in other words the different perspectives people have as to what for them is true. I notice in your last sentence you speak of “not knowing the meaning of truth.” Are you saying that there is an objective truth beyond us that we all can only have different perspectives of? I ask this only because I’m so keen to see something of how you see things. Just ignore this comment it if you think I’m overstepping the mark. Again, thank you for your thoughtful comment Karen.

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      • Ha we could all go insane trying to explain it Don! “An infinite sea of truth lies beyond our present consciousness, and it is our privilege to become conscious of more and more of this immensity as we advance in life” – Christian D Larson.

        So yes, I do think there is an objective truth beyond what we know now or see or have learned growing up. Just like this forum, we all seek to know more because deep down we feel there is more, longing to understand and find the answers, only to realise it is infinite.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        Really appreciate your response Karen. Wonderful quote you’ve given here. Thank you for this. I suppose as Ken Wilber says, it is both objective and within – the vastness around us and the vastness within.

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      • Love that quote from Ken Wilber. Perfect!

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      • Wow. That is a great moment. When you think about it, it shouldn’t really matter, and yet, when we find ourselves in the places of beloved authors or thinkers, it’s like we’ve stepped into their minds for a few moments. I love that timeless feeling. Also, don’t want to answer Karen’s question, but would love to add some comments on your query regarding “objective truth”. I think few things in life are objective. I think God or spirit or source or the Force… whatever is your inclination, has absolute truth and absolute love. Once on the physical plane I think we are all effected/affected by life experience, perspectives, attitudes and so forth. We come in with completely open and empty brains. Everything we think has been added. So we build ideas about the world and people and even ourselves over time. Truths are always related to the individual and that perspective.

        Take two people witnessing a car accident from the same exact point on a street corner. The first, has a history of previous car accidents and childhood abuse by a father who always used a red paddle. This person has a strong and fairly negative association with the color red and accidents that has left this person with permanent neck pain. First, they note the movement of the red car more than any of the other cars, totally unconsciously. They also immediately identify more emotionally with the car that took the greater hit. So their account is heavily weighted by this filter they have running. The second observer was completely absorbed in an argument in their head, they are still having with a colleague they just hung up on. As a result, it’s not until the screech of the tires that they are startled out of their reverie. Thus, they see very acutely the second and third stages of the car accident, rather than the first and may be angry at the car hit, because they feel they just got sideswiped by the colleague on the phone. Each person will report their experience as fact, untainted by anything they have going on emotionally and totally unaware of how much was going on unconsciously in their minds at that time of the accident. We all do this all day, every day. We all have very distinct, filtered views of everything we see. Truth has a curious place in such a mind, in my very humble opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        You put it beautifully Noelle and your illustration using the witnesses and accident is so apt. Really appreciate your comment and the passion with which you have expressed it – thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Great discussion you have started Don. 🙂 Could it be that the only truth is that there is no truth? Only opinion and some kind of faith and/or hope in something?
    As is said by others so much better than I can say, my truth, whatever it is, can only be real to myself; others’ truth real only to themselves. Perhaps we will one day find that there is truth, but then again, we may find there is no such thing as truth.
    One could go round in circles all day with this! 🙂

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  14. Great discussion, Don. Resonated so much with Hariod, Val, Louise and Diana. I loved that Diana, “…if my truth wants to kill someone I need to step back.” Consider how true that statement is in all of our relationships. The need to be right is a huge love killer and nurtures little in relationships. We all have a whiff of the fanatic in us somewhere when we find ourselves on high horses with anyone in our life. As Louise said, I found A truth…. Loved reading this.

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    • Don says:

      So glad you found something here, Noelle. I suppose that is what community is all about, the gifts we offer one another. You said something that I think we all need to take pretty seriously, “We all have a whiff of the fanatic in us somewhere when we find ourselves on high horses with anyone in our life.” Thank you for this reminder. It’s something we can so easily forget.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Love Bertrand Russell.

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      • Don says:

        Tell you a little story about Bertrand Russell, Noelle. Both my sons live in London and the youngest got married there in Richmond. The setting was marvellous and everything took place in this lovely house turned in to a kind of marriage reception centre with the most incredible gardens which used to be a hunting ground belonging to Henry Viii. I was walking around the place just looking at some very interesting things. Suddenly I found a plaque which declared the place as having been the home of Bertrand Russell. It was an amazing moment. 🙂

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  15. Mary says:

    This is such a stimulating discussion Don, from your post to others comments. When I read your comment two thoughts entered my mind almost simultaneously: truth or not, it’s their (ISIS members’) world what they deem to be or perhaps because they haven’t slowed down enough to realize that in their truth they have reached the point of regression and haven’t a clue to what “real” truth is any more (Hariod, so perfectly stated) and now there is no turning back from their commitment to their truth.

    So my first thought was, just think about the level of mental and physical commitment it takes to perform day-after-day the horrific crimes against humanity that we see taking place by this group. How is it that group-think can turn groups of people so quickly as to embrace this kind of truth, which they haven’t a clue if it’s even their truth? Would we, if faced with the level of devastation and horror we see them inflict, be able to summon that same level of commitment individually that would be needed to fight for our belief and conviction of what we think our truth is?

    Then my second immediate thought was, yes it happened during our Civil War – father against son, brother against brother all for the name of a truth. There was no question of what commitment was and why. World Wars are close to this, but I think the Civil War is the greatest example. I’m only referring to the US, because our friends overseas have been and in some cases still are living through their hells.

    Are we of the same mind today? Would we? Could we? Do we have what it takes, day-after-day to fight for our survival and belief. Can we get past our “me” world and realize that it’s not “me” but us. I’m worried that we’ve turned soft for many reasons and haven’t recognize our wake-up call. Will we be ready to answer the call of “truth?”

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Mary. You raise so many important issues.

      “Would we, if faced with the level of devastation and horror we see them inflict, be able to summon that same level of commitment individually that would be needed to fight for our belief and conviction of what we think our truth is?”

      I hear what you are saying here Mary and I agree with you. It does call forth a response from us. But in saying that, may I also add the cautionary note in Noelle’s comment, “We all have a whiff of the fanatic in us somewhere…” Too often our response is in danger of slowly becoming one that makes us no different from what we are responding to. And lets face it Western history is also full of all sorts of fanaticism and human destruction.

      On your second point, “Can we get past our “me” world and realize that it’s not ‘me’ but us.” I Couldn’t say it better Mary.

      I had the privilege of visiting a few civil war battlegrounds and cemeteries on one of my visits to the US. It touched me deeply and I remember being absolutely overwhelmed by some of the stories. I also visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. That for me was deeply moving. I have never forgotten that experience. Profoundly tragic.

      Thank you for your post Mary and the spirit in which you have offered it.

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  16. And why is that people of the “strongest” faiths and convictions often show their strength by working to disprove, sabotage, or punish those whose faith and convictions are different?
    This is an excellent, “really think about this” post, Don.

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    • Don says:

      When what it should be is the strongest example of love and acceptance. It’s a sad thing Marylin. Religion’s track record on acceptance and working together is certainly not a good one, but then secular movements have also not been immune from this. I think it’s a deep underlying malaise in the human spirit which fundamentalism in whatever form, be it religious, political or whatever, exacerbates.

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  17. ladyfi says:

    There are so many different truths – it’s not absolute.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Don, this is a wonderfully thought-provoking post. The extremists that I’m concerned about are not the ones willing to die for their faith, but the ones who think it’s alright to persecute and kill others for their faith.

    I like Jesus. He told Peter to put his sword away and then he allowed himself to be killed on the cross so that we could be saved. Now that’s my kind of hero.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • Don says:

      Imposing and persecuting others simply because they see things differently certainly is something that just has no place in society, as you say Wendy. With you on that. I can also see why Jesus is such an example to you. 🙂

      So enjoyed the images on your blog. Wonderfully eye-catching.

      Liked by 1 person

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