Life, as far as you are concerned, is YOUR EXPERIENCE. It’s not SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA.
So, by implication, no matter what anyone THINKS of your life, you are the one who has to LIVE it.
And what is the standard that determines your quality of life?
Your own subjective values and personal preferences.
Pretty obvious, right?
Well, not always. There’s a nagging issue out there called “truth” and there’s a whole lot of people, armed with all sorts of facts and heavy weight debating skills, who wont rest until they can get you to believe in their particular version of it.
One day you’re going to run across someone who considers some of the elements of your worldview to be lacking in “truthfulness.” The chances are decent that they will possess the ability to “prove” you “wrong.” They may even attempt to make you feel bad for having erroneous beliefs by labeling you “unscientific”, “irrational”, or “heretical”. Then they’ll inform you of the “truth” you’re supposed to believe.
When that happens, ask them “Why does the truth matter? Even if my beliefs are false, why is it so important that I adopt true beliefs?”
And don’t let them get away with some vague answer like “It’s good to be scientific, rational, orthodox, etc.” You want to know WHY it’s good, not THAT it’s good.
YES, pointing out facts and whipping out proofs is not enough. The relevance of factual claims needs to be demonstrated if one is expected to offer his time in exchange for a conversation, presentation, argument, pitch, etc.
“So, why does truth matter?”
If they’re good at what they do, they’ll say something like “Because you’ll be better off with true beliefs” or “the truth will set you free.”
Then ask them “When you say ‘better off’ or ‘free’, do you mean these ideas will help ME more effectively create the results that matter to ME?
If they say “no”, then you can say “No thanks. I’m not interested in discussing ideas that don’t help ME create the results that matter most to ME.
If they say “yes”, then you can say, “So, the primary agenda behind this conversation isn’t about me believing in the truth. It’s about you helping ME create the results that matter most to ME. Is that correct?
If they say “no”, then you can say, “I’m sorry. I really don’t have time to discuss ideas that aren’t being offered in an effort to help ME create the results that matter most to ME.
If they say “yes”, then you can say, “I’d love to talk with you about how you can help me achieve my goals” or whatever else you wish to say because, by that point, you will have already established a pivotal truth about truth that is often missed by many purveyors of truth:Truth may be the standard by which one’s beliefs should be measured, but the goals and priorities of the believer are the standards by which the relevance of truth has to be determined.
YOU always set the standards for your own life and no one can take that freedom away from you–not even those who use logic, truth, science, rationality, or any other measuring stick to get you to believe what they think you ought to believe.
Refusing to believe in a certain “truth” may or may not have consequences, but you get to decide if those consequences matter to you and your creative process.
Your assent to a particular truth-claim only matters if it contributes to your practice of what Aristotle called a “flourishing life.”
And it’s up to you–NOT school, mainstream science, alternative research, church, the new age movement, free thought communities, this blog, your therapist, people on Facebook, your parents, the government, or really smart people–to define what that means for you.
That’s my two cents,
P.S. You don’t actually need to have a conversation like the hypothetical one above. It’s neither necessary or important for you to get proselytizers and debaters to agree with the points made here. What IS important, is that you never buy into the assumption that “truth” is something anyone has the right to hold over your head or belittle you with. If the truth is truly good for you, it is good enough to present itself to you in a way that is relevant to your highest goals, respectful to your deepest sensitivities, and resonant with your core vibration.