Open Future NZ Waldo Pressman Salt

"To search for TRUTH
you must first have lost it!"

printPrintable Pageprint

Searching for Truth

The process of childhood development has one key purpose, to make us members of our family and community. It's inevitable that there is a good deal of indoctrination in this process. It's critical to your parents that you become familiar with the ideals and attitudes of your cultural group, that you speak well, that you understand the rules that apply in your family. Your early indoctrination is carefully planned if you live in a normal family.

This process of indoctrination is important for you too. We all need to become members, of the family, of the community, of our school, church group, sports team, and place of work. I do believe that nothing is more important to a human being than learning and reinforcing that membership. Our interaction with other people confirms who we are, that we are accepted as members. We are square pegs designed for square holes, and we've learned to play that part.

Ivan Illich calls this process "schooling", and he argues forcefully that much of our schooling is dysfunctional and that we have a desperate need to be "deschooled". Being schooled, helps you to fit in as a young person, helps you to be productive, to be easily accepted as a member, is the key to your early success. But being schooled contains some fish hooks, that are easily exposed in a rapidly changing global society. Some of what we believe is likely to be highly dysfunctional. For instance for most of us some sort of religious conviction is strongly held. That tradition almost always claims to be exclusive and best and ideal. To function in this world one must be at least tolerant of the traditions of other peoples, perhaps even knowledgeable about their cultural and religious traditions.

Values, Truth, Morality - Facts?

Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. He is the co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.

Sam Harris, is an outspoken proponent of skepticism and science, his two books -- The End of Faith and its follow-up Letter to a Christian Nation -- have become best-sellers.

The same rule applies to languages. Willingness to acknowledge the importance of other languages and to learn yourself to speak some of those languages is an essential skill for modern people who hope to understand what the world is really like and to function easily in a global world.

At some stage for most of us, often at some time in mid-life one realizes that like the Father Christmas story, much of what we have been taught and we've willingly believed since childhood is simply false. Then you have a choice. To re-examine your indoctrination, or to pretend that it didn't happen. The process of re-evaluating who you are and what you know isn't easy. This is what Waldo Salt calls "Searching for Truth" and it can only begin as he says, "after you know you've lost it." Once you begin to question your own knowledge base, it becomes much harder to make decisions or to be a leader or to do anything that demands making a long term plan. It may take 3-5 years to get through the worst to that, and perhaps as long as 10 years to fully regain your confidence in your own knowledge. For Waldo Salt that process began in 1956, when he realized that Communism was not after all a solution to the evils of the world. He was 42. At 53 he was once again writing successfully. He was 55 when "Midnight Cowboy" was released. But for him is crowning glory was "Coming Home", released when he was 64. For "Coming Home" he interviewed 100's of Vietnam vets, and produced over 5000 pages of research before he started on the script. None of this later work would have been possible if Salt hadn't had the courage to reexamine himself and everything he believed in mid-life.

The process of discovering you own truth is critical, not only to yourself but also to those people you know and may influence. The old paradigm isn't working - we need to discover a new one. As you work on yourself parts of the new developing paradigm will become clear to you. At the right time, you'll be ready.

Your comment on this essay is welcomed. Comments (0)

Open_Future_Limited