But how do we know what the truth is and what it is not?
In the contemporary world with so many different historical accounts, information outlets, disinformation outlets, conflicting views and narratives, it's hard to know who or what to trust or believe. And it's tempting to withdraw into a safe cocoon, stick to what we already are familiar with, and refuse to venture out and expose ourselves to the world and its vast array of ideas.
Sadly, this leads to ignorance and opens us up to exploitation and even further isolation from the world and this is the exact opposite of becoming free. It also leads us away from believing in or trusting our most important asset- which is our own minds.
A good first step in overcoming this problem and multiplying our ability to accumulate knowledge is adopting the practice of sorting and sifting out the truth for ourselves, wherever we venture, no matter the source. This article is suggesting the basic practice of 'Open Minded Scrutiny' (OMS).
Open Minded Scrutiny: OMS
1. Open your mind (to any idea, information or possibility you encounter.)
2. While examining the information, try to dispense with any of your biases, pre-conceived notions and assumptions.
4. Gather proofs, evidence and reliable information from all sides.
5. Analyze the information rationally, honestly and with a clear mind.
6. Consider where the preponderance of the evidence leads.
7. Draw rational conclusions; identify and isolate any open questions that need to be explored.
8. With those open questions restart the process from step #1.
For black people, this process has deep historical roots. Consider the Ancient Egyptian concept of Tahuti or Thoth. Tahuti is related to the recording of facts or data. Tahuti's energy is said to break through mental barriers; allowing information to become known and secrets or lost ideas to be revealed. He is the patron of scholars and scribes. In fact, the Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, spirituality, philosophy and the hidden mysteries.
Tahuti is often represented as an Ibis bird. The long beak of the Ibis is relative to the discerning perceptiveness of knowledge and wisdom being able to pick out the relevant and useful, in the same way the Ibis detected and plucked its food from the muddy, murky bed of the Nile.
The key is developing the ability to sift and sort information for ourselves. This is the essence of wisdom. In ancient Hebrew, the word wisdom 'hakham' (or hikma in Arabic) derived from the root word meaning 'curds' and refers to the process of making cheese (curds) from milk by separating out the water (called whey). This represented the ability to separate out or distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' (or functional and dysfunctional) - the very essence of wisdom.
So in the end, this is not about believing or accepting everything out there on face value, or based on how we feel. It's also not about being close-minded and skeptical or cynical about everything. This is about balance. Balancing facts and information, but also balancing our emotions when in the pursuit of truth. Because ultimately, truth is 'the clarity with which we perceive reality.' Ultimately, this will instill within us a stance of ready engagement with the world.
If we could all adopt OMS as an integral part of modern black culture, imagine how far along our children will be in future generations; and consider how free...
"Truth is different from falsehood in the same way that light is different from darkness. Truth is nothing new or additional, it is just reality minus the obstacles that occlude vision."