In Search of the Truth – A Human Imperative
Prepared by Dr. Nick Begich
In writing this essay I played with the ideas for quite awhile trying to fit them into words which would convey my message. I wanted to write in a way that would inspire constructive action in a number of directions at one time. The message in the essay is simple – we each have incredible unrealized potentials that matter to us all and are activated by a simple act of our individual “will” – we choose to change – we all contribute to change.
What is the truth? – At some point this is a question everyone asks and attempts to answer. Most attempt to answer the “question of truth” as if it could be contained in some simple phrase we could repeat, some act of contrition, or through some great journey of spirit. The answer for me came in a number of ways and through a number of experiences. The search for truth boiled down to one of personal integrity, not settling for less than sustained effort and a pure desire to do the right thing – in everything. My truth came from the “doing” in life and learning through experience rather than from blind following which resulted in only discovering that the search never really ends – it only continues to unfold. Truth cannot be contained in a few words, a thing or some event – truth is reflected in everything, it is a process we are standing in.
The “Secret Weapon”
In the course of events one of my awakening experiences happened, as many do, over dinner…
As we finished eating, our conversation was centered on the details and strategies for winning an upcoming campaign. We talked for some time, going over several approaches for dealing with the work ahead. Bob Bates listened with some interest, occasionally inserting a line or two into the dialogue. At a point in the discussion Bates announced that he had a “secret weapon”, a weapon that the opposition could never overcome. A weapon which would leave our adversaries in complete disarray and in an indefensible position. Those gathered around the table leaned forward and listened intently, waiting for the next words from the veteran organizer – the words that could only spell victory for our cause. After some moments, Bates reached for a blank page of paper in the center of the table. Slowly he turned the page over revealing the “secret weapon”… on the page were written the words…The Truth.
I always think of this scene when listening to people proposing intricate and endless strategies for achieving some grand plan. I think about this story each time I see media machinations and endless manipulations of the public. Moving public opinion by wordsmithing and controlling debate is how information is generally thrown our way by mass media. In contrast, the simplicity of speaking what we believe is true and right can be the most powerful weapon in pursuit of change.
Speaking the truth means a willingness to say what one believes, defend it with facts and the integrity to modify our beliefs when provided new information. Remaining flexible, tolerant of the approaches of others and sometimes having to admit our own errors are the most difficult parts of the “secret weapon”, but the most valuable parts of the tool.
The Unseen Coalition
In the last two years, I have had the opportunity to speak to groups from many different political, social, economic, religious and scientific backgrounds both within and outside of the United States. In all of these organizations, I have found a common thread. The thread throughout these very diverse groups are the people with a common agenda. They are the unorganized organized – the Organic Internet. They are a leaderless movement, a revolution, a new way of thinking that is steadily gaining momentum as the direction materializes in front of each person. It is the same revolution which has always been here on earth. It is the search for individual truth.
These people who comprise the thread woven through diversity question those in authority regardless of their credentials or position. They raise questions based on their own individual analysis of the truth. These are people who are self assured and confident in insisting on answers. These are people who are thinking, alert and willing to modify their positions when faced with evidence that is compelling. They are not the blind followers who unfortunately still represent the majority in our societies. These are the “seekers” – those actively engaged in evolving beyond their current conditions.
The Chaos Theory of Human Interaction
Have you ever worked in a large organization of incredible complexity where the end product most closely resembles a sort of oozing to the finish line in accomplishing its goal? Large organizations function in a structured chaos, which is generally full of inefficiencies. In large organizations people seem to forever engage in activities to correct, hide, forget or avoid some event that arises from their activity. It is like creating “order-out-of-chaos”. We accept that there are those people in organizations, who by virtue of their positions can create change by force of action. What is also clear is that most of what matters in organizations is accomplished by the working individuals in the organization and not by the Board of Directors. The world is a place where order is a reflection of the collective actions of all participants. The order, or lack thereof, is the creation of individuals acting in their own interests on the basis of their values and beliefs.
Every once in a while the existing “order” is overturned quickly through the simultaneous individual actions of many (For example: The fall of the “Iron Curtain”) or more often by the slower pace of individual actions. However, in all instances change comes from individual actions. The smoothness or the chaos is determined by the foundational values and the prominence that these values have in the individual participants. The need to focus on “values” first, then “mission” and then “means” is required.
A focus on the underlying values of each individual within a group will create a smoother ride to the finish line more efficiently than any coerced or manipulated activity. The recognition of the effort made by others, and tolerance for the varied approaches, will build unusual alliances for creating change in realities. Every change rests with individuals deciding to do something different in the areas they can affect based on where they are at the moment. Change does not require any other external motivator.
Tolerance. It is the recognition that each person has his/her own road to the truth. We are not required to convince anyone that our road is better than any other or to stand in judgment of another’s path to the truth. We are only required to keep looking and stimulating others to look also. This is the root of tolerance – Each of us is faced with life experiences and circumstances that serve to open or close our vision. We choose how we interact within the experience – learning and changing or getting stuck along the way. Actualizing potential in ourselves and stimulating the greater potentials in others by our own example is all that is really required.
Honesty in self-reflection is the beginning of change. Seeing the need and making an effort to find solutions is required. There really needs to be only one simple rule – that we shall not violate another’s right to his/her free will. Out of this rule emerges tolerance and the greatest respect for the other person – the recognition of their right to be…
Accountability and Transparency
The idea of transparency starts with the individual. There are at least two perspectives in exploring the idea of transparency:
Looking Inward. First, look from the position you occupy in self-reflection. We can look through our lives and see areas where improvements can be made. We can see those flaws that no one else might see. We can begin to correct those things that create problems and inefficiencies or not…it is generally our choice. It is usually a matter of privacy as well. We do have a right to deny the truth and wallow in the place we are. It is always our individual choice. Truth begins in the mirror.
Looking Outward. Secondly, transparency is the capability of truly discerning individuals or organizations. The less accountable or transparent an organization or individual, the higher its level of inefficiency. Organizational transparency yields truth and usually demands some accountability. Individual transparency rests with the individual who determines his/her level of visibility. Allowing transparency is the right of individuals to accomplish or deny.
A common theme in much of our writing involves that which is hidden from common knowledge and has to do with creating a more transparent society. We are committed to free and informed dialogue that will increasingly prevail over the hollow words of communications rhetoric surrounding most human interactions. There seems to be more concern for maintaining existing power structures than for recognizing that the only real power moves from the masses of people and not by the will of a few. We believe that fundamental changes are possible but only if built on foundations of values that are common to all and recognized.
Organizational privacy is different in that it reflects some collective standard. Exposing organizational flaws also exposes individual flaws. All choices we make which impact another requires some kind of accountability based on what is right and true and what is fair and just.
The increase in societal complexity requires greater individual accountability, first to ourselves, next to whatever higher sources of inspiration and guidance we access in our search for truth and finally, to each other. At the same time, the security of individual privacy must remain as the basis of all freedom. The right to self-determination, in a non-harmful way, is our foundational right from which all others spring. Our right to self-expression and full human actualization is our hope in expressing our individual creation. All meaningful political, social, cultural, religious, or other interactions always begin with the actions of individuals.
Walls Of Secrecy
Increasing the transparency of governments and organizations and exposing problems will allow for greater accountability. Walls of secrecy in government are allowing a few people to manipulate the outcomes for the many. The few have been able to hide behind what is right and what is true – what is fair and what is just – in order to further their own ends at the expense of the many, the mission is lost in the secrecy. The rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of individual happiness are being crowded out by a more directed, controlled and manipulated society. This is the wrong direction.
When people individually make decisions to change any aspect of their immediate conditions, the effect of the decisions move through everything connected to that individual. When numbers of people are doing the same thing, without any external motivator, they all arrive at the same finish line in much finer form. Like the Internet all are connected but are not waiting for leadership. They recognize that waiting for a leader is not what changing the world is about. It is about individuals taking individual actions, based on their unique effort at any given time, on a foundation of similar values. The values are expressed in beliefs which vary widely and bring about division in society. The underlying values are more important than the road traveled to find and recognize them.
These new seekers are always willing to change in light of what is true. They are individuals who first have discovered something about their own potentials and how to develop themselves. They recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and strive to overcome all obstacles. They are willing to admit error and benefit by it in trying to seek and live a true life. Their hallmark is not necessarily success – their hallmark is “sustained effort” – a willingness to try and a willingness to continue to try even after failure. These individuals recognize that it is in honest effort that success is found.
Another outstanding characteristic of these individuals is their willingness to contribute to the improvement of human conditions. They work from a most powerful position in this regard because they work from the point they occupy…the present life condition they are in at the time. They are not waiting for “the right time”, “the right place”, “the right circumstances” or “the right people to help” – they recognize that all of this exists in the very moment they occupy and only requires effort on their part. Truth seekers make things happen by acting on what they believe is true and right in the instance and place they find themselves.
In the last couple years Earthpulse has noted several news stories about individual people, despite personal risks, taking on adversaries in their pursuit of what they believe is right and true. Truly free people must have the ability to move forward on issues that are important to them individually and to us collectively. It is imperative that individuals at all levels of organizations whether local government, science, religion, business or politics begin to insist on transparency and protection for those individuals who take risks in the public interest. To bring higher orders of transparency and efficiency requires open discussion on important issues. Solutions rather than the excitation of our differences and resulting conflicts must be foremost in our minds. A focus toward solutions and changes that benefit individuals without violating or exploiting others should be encouraged in every way. Honest disclosure should be the standard when such is not the case. Justice should be possible in such a system and people should not be left alone without support. We believe this is possible and know many working toward the same end.
People in all areas of human interaction have had occasion to come up against adversaries who would crush them to hide the truth from the rest. Most people yield before the battle has begun. Most people turn a bind eye to what they know is right and for years after are haunted by their decision to look the other way. On those rare occasions where someone emerges through the clouds of conflict into the light of day with some fragment of truth, the world applauds and says thank you or never notices in the first place, as the individual again disappears into their daily routines.
Earthpulse gets occasional letters from individuals reporting on “whistle-blowers” who become the victims of their effort to expose the truth. Disclosure after disclosure brings to mind the dishonest nature of many who hold positions of trust in politics, business, religion and science. The denial of truth serves only to enslave us all by those who control knowledge. Safety nets, which protect those who expose the truth, can be created without undue organization. Continuing abuses always result in higher costs than exposing them and forcing change early. Hiding the truth and protecting the villains while watching the messengers get slain is not the answer. There are plenty of examples – nothing is exempt:
Business hides the truth about the risks or problems associated with its activities. Examples in the business community recently include the tobacco industry’s denial of the negative health effects of their products. They even enhanced the level of addictive substances in cigarettes, resulting in more deaths in the United States then otherwise would have occurred. Every day there are disclosures made for which a hundred more go unannounced, undiscovered or hidden behind someone standing in front of the truth.
In politics it is a continual disclosure of endless scandals dealing with campaign funding, special interest favors or the latest failure in personal ethics by some would-be-statesperson.
In science there is always innovation and discovery. We think of science as a set of beliefs grounded in facts. Much of science is really “hope grounded on dogma” and represents just another regulation of belief systems. Religion means “to regulate beliefs”. So in the broad sense, science can be thought of as a religion grounded on a faith in a group of theories thought to be based on “insurmountable facts” which seem to change as our perspective on them changes. Much is routed through “the guardian of the truth” arm of the particular science discipline in a way that tends to inhibit change. These are groups of scientists protecting “their” science and are useful but need the balance provided by openness. Most science innovations, when first proposed, are rejected by the “official keepers of the scientific truth”. Nothing has changed historically. Moreover, it is very likely that today’s science will seem childish in many ways in the next hundred years.
The work of independent researchers disclosing the latest in health related discoveries whether they be in medicine or environ-mental science are the source of numerous reports. Additionally, there are always rumors and in fact, suppression of much innovation in favor of maintaining the status quo for vested scientific and industrial interests. These suppressed or restricted disclosures may be denying citizens opportunities to solve many of the problems that we as a society face. They include energy, medicine, agriculture and virtually every area of human interaction of significance.
In religion there is almost always some level of suppression. The suppression may start by crushing of the human spirit as it is manipulated by the self-interests or insanity of cult leaders. It can also be from mainstream religious leaders who are frequently in the news. These violations are no greater than any other except that we otherwise vest in these leaders our most sacred trust – the welfare of our souls. The fact of the matter is that the welfare of our souls rests primarily in ourselves and the choices we make.
The Current Fallacy of Justice
I have often said that justice has a direct proportional relationship to the size of your wallet. It was said as a sarcastic attempt at humor and, like most humor, it is in part based on the truth. Dealing with the court system, regulatory or elected body requires resources. Those with the most resources have the greater likelihood of success. Justice has more to do with your ability to move resources into your arguments than what might be right or true. This is the case whether you are the victim or the perpetrator.
Society has created an upside down situation where the perpetrator becomes the victim and the victim is victimized again, only this time it is by the system which is supposed to support justice. The rights of presumed innocence, fair representation, justice and accountability for wrongdoing are all fundamental. These fundamentals apply to both victim and perpetrator. Public resources should serve the interests of both equally. Only when there is equal access to the systems that maintain and create law can there exist true justice. Individuals who assert that they have been wronged should be provided simple means to test their arguments. People need access to juries with the power to change, enforce and interpret law in the same way as the other branches of government are so empowered. Juries need to assert their right to determine the effect and reality of law.
Public interest litigation and the right to bring complaints are equally fundamental to justice. Methods must be found allowing for the least costly and least complicated opportunities to be heard by a jury in an appeal for justice. The system should be made less intrusive and more equally accessible not only when individuals have been harmed but also when some larger community of interest has been harmed including the “public (human) interests”. The right of a victim to redress under the law has to do with individual access to those systems of justice. To get justice as an average person you must, under the current rules of the game, risk all of your resources in every instance. In addition, there are also the personal emotional costs associated with solving the conflicts.
There have been attempts at professional oversight by such groups as the AMA, Bar Association, Teaching Practices Commission and other quasi-public or quasi-private oversight organizations. These are the clubrooms of closed files where the public does not get to see the hearing, evidence or results. The veil of secrecy often evades justice. Open hearings are the way in which justice is reached. It is in the open light of day that the perpetrator and victim are on an equal footing. It is in the open that the truth gets heard and acted upon by the public. There are of course issues of privacy, due process, rules of evidence and fair dealing that must be considered. The opportunity for closing off public disclosure should be very limited and be focused on protecting victims and the accused equally.
What now happens at various junctures is that someone musters the courage of their convictions, rises above the fear and risks, and screams from the housetops their version of the truth. What happens then? Usually not what was expected. The powerful interest they challenge is inevitably in control of much greater resources. The brief battle crushes the challenger and denies the world the opportunity to hear the truth. The method is usually the same. The first step is to crush the economy of the individual so as to take away his/her means of economic support. The next step is to cut off his/her communication with others in their respective field by declaring the individual an intellectual heretic, a disgruntled employee, a person suffering from stress related disorders or even worse. Another ploy is to file litigation that ties the person into an economic noose from which there is little escape. There are few people up to the task of continuing and there is many a battle lost in the first volley.
The solution is simple and begins where this writing began – with each of us individually acting on what we know to be true and right in the instance we now occupy. A great deal is being accomplished in every effort and we are never alone. We must only make an effort – We must try!