Traveler walks alone through a deserted landscape, deserted towns, deserted world. He encounters few people on this path traveling their own way. Mostly, this is a lonely road, surviving alone, with little or no support, wishing for safety and security along with freedom. Is that even possible?
One day Traveler is passing through a deserted village and spots an estate compound at the other end of town. Even from a distance he can tell there are walls securing the stronghold. Traveler decides to head toward it. Maybe he will find food and shelter. Maybe he will find safety and security.
As Traveler approaches the stronghold, the large front gate bursts open as two guards throw a bedraggled citizen to the ground outside the walls. The citizen objects, but they are still too far to hear any words beyond a yell that sounds like “No!” Anything else that may have been said is unclear. One guard shoots the citizen before they return inside and close the gate behind them.
Traveler pauses to consider his options… It’s clear the compound has protectors, this could mean security. It’s clear there are others inside and a wall to help protect them, this could mean safety. What isn’t clear is what happened to warrant the citizen to be cast out and executed. There’s no chance Traveler will find out the whole truth of that story since one side is permanently unreachable now. Of course it can be guaranteed the other side will say the citizen deserved it. But is it true? Traveler’s decision is this: go toward the compound representing safety at the risk of a threat to his sense of self, or continue on alone at the risk of uncertainty but with a secure sense of self? In this moment Traveler’s integrity is intact, but will it remain so if he gives up freedoms for the promise of safety and security? Is it an illusion? How can he tell before it’s too late and he finds himself trapped by circumstance?
All of us find ourselves with this same decision in our lives, though few of us are aware of it. All stories have at least three sides: mine, yours and the truth. We see our world through the spectacles of our own viewpoint, and we can’t help but color our experiences with them. When there are witnesses, the story evolves further with many more possibilities. Then, as it is passed along, the story evolves further and further from the truth, a ‘whisper down the lane…’
Ask any police officer who has ever had to canvass an area for witnesses, they will tell you if there are twenty witnesses to a crime, you can bet there will be twenty versions of the story. We see what we expect to see or what we want to see. When we do see or discover what’s real, we rarely make the decision to accept it as truth. It’s simply easier not to. It’s easier to go with the flow. It’s easier to ignore what doesn’t fit. It’s easier to explain it away. It’s easier to be blind.
“People are stupid. They will believe anything either because they want it to be true, or because they are afraid it might be.” – Zed, The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind
Those of us actually trying to see and understand truth in our world are bombarded by others’ views, by naysayers, by the accepted norm. We struggle with doubt even when we do know truth – the voices of others drown out our own inner voice, overwhelm that gut feeling. It’s hard to stand alone or to walk upstream, in the midst of insistent ignorance flowing ever onward, ever downward. We struggle to have our voice heard in the crowd. We struggle just to survive the onslaught.
I think I would rather struggle upstream alone than to give away all that I value for an illusion of safety with the “norm.”