The baseboard may possibly have been loose because Roger had spent ten minutes kicking it, but for a man like Roger a truth is a truth, regardless of its cause.Anxious People, Fredrik Backman
The truth is, there is a no-peeing sign posted in a public park we hiked to last weekend. More specifically, a FORBIDDEN TO URINATE! IN THIS PLACE sign with a pic of a dude takin’ a leak. But if that’s the only truth we have, it wouldn’t really show the whole picture. And the whole picture is that there must have been enough of a problem of people openly peeing in this particular area to justify the bureaucracy paying for, creating, and posting a sign.
It’s silly to think that people didn’t have at least a little (yellow) influence on the posting of that sign.
It’s silly to think that by kicking and kicking and kicking Roger didn’t cause the baseboard to become loose.
There is action. And then there is reaction. Kicking the baseboard –> loose baseboard. Peeing on the fence –> posted sign on the fence.
It’s silly to think that we can kick and pee without taking any responsibility. Truth is there, but that doesn’t mean that a human didn’t kick or pee it into existence.
So I want to focus on those truths that come about because of human action.
I start thinking about the upcoming US election and the debates and the pandemic and the protests and the fires and the conspiracies. All of those came about from human action.
- The election: constitutional framers trying to create a democracy
- The debates: people realizing that the public would be interested in hearing the candidates talk about controversial topics
- The pandemic: person to person spreading
- The protests: people taking a stand against systemic racism among other things
- The fires: human-influenced climate change (oh, and a gender reveal party that used pyrotechnics — WHOOPS)
- The conspiracies: um . . . people with too much time on their hands? I don’t know on this one.
When we pee all over the place and then refuse to believe that we had anything to with the sign going up, what happens to truth? The truth is the sign. With no context. And that’s confusing.
Before 1950, carbon dioxide had never reached over 300 parts per million. Now it’s at over 400. It’s silly to think that big-truck-driving humans have nothing to do with that number (and neither do the cattle farting it up in the human-designed, human-built factory farms). Right?
What a life of luxury we must have to sit on our leather armchairs waving away all responsibilities of our actions and entertaining all of the conspiracy theories.
But guess what? We don’t have to be like kick-the-baseboard Roger. And we certainly don’t have to pee in public parks.
Because even if we doubt truth or get confused about truth or get swayed to distrust the truth, we can still be good humans.
Good humans take responsibility for their actions.
Better humans take action because of their responsibility.
I get it. The truth seems to be sitting on shifting sands. So we try our best. We don’t waste the precious time we’ve been given on this beautiful earth by retweeting the Babylon Bee actually believing that Twitter has shut down “Entire Network To Slow Spread of Negative Biden News.” As a quick aside, let’s remember that Babylon Bee is a satirical news site.
What is one to do, though, when it seems that all the messages careening towards us are designed to twist and spin and distort and dismay?
Here’s what I do. Maybe you might resonate with these ideas, too:
- Instead of doomsday scrolling, go outside and take a walk in nature. Breathe in fresh air. Look at the expansive sky. Realize how very small we are in the universe. Then look down at your fingerprints and appreciate yourself as a unique being.
- Instead of YouTube rabbit-holing, grab a notebook and write. Grab a book and read. Grab some string and make art from a random wooden frame you have lying around in the apartment, left by the previous tenants. Exercise. Work with your hands.
- Instead of fretting over politics, think about what you can vote for right now with your money. Yesterday at our little local grocery store, Santa Maria, I bought flour packaged in fabric scraps sewn together. For me, avoiding plastic packaging is a huge win. I voted with my money when I purchased my bags of flour. It’s just a small act, but it’s something — and something is certainly better than nothing. It’s also better than doomsday scrolling, YouTube rabbit-holing, and fretting over politics.
(Important qualification: Vote with your money, yes. But please, please also vote in the election.)
- Lastly: LOOK UP. Look up from your screens. Look up from your bias. Look up from your carefully curated construct of life. Look up so that you can see others that may need your help.
I really do believe that when we are face to face with the truth of people who need help, we help. It’s just that it’s so easy to sink deeper into the leather armchair, looking down at our screens, losing sight of reality — bit by iPhone bit.
“Lifting your eyes from the things of this world is an activity that must begin WHERE YOU ARE.”K.P. Yohannan
So look up, get up, and go do something good.
The truth? We can be good humans. Let’s start there.
Here are a few be-good resources:
- International Justice Mission, “a global organization partnering with local justice systems to end violence against people living in poverty.”
- Education Equals Hope, a mission dedicated to providing “for the education of those living in desperate and difficult situations” in Ecuador, Rwanda, Kenya, and Haiti.
- Us! We are mindful to vote with our money, and we vote to support the local people here in Quito whenever and wherever possible.