I don’t know exactly how I got to this place. I used to hate disagreements, especially disagreements with my closest friends. So I’d avoid them, or push out argument after argument to get on the same page.
Who is this new person? This person that says stuff like, “So we disagree on this, and that’s ok. We can just be in this space.”
Why is this ok? I do believe in the Truth, I believe that some things are right and wrong. How could I share a space with someone who I think is just wrong? How can we be here together? Does this not threaten my commitment to truth?
For one thing, I think that the Truth is resilient. It endures, whether or not I agree with it (or anyone else does). Whatever I say or think or do, the Truth remains. The Truth withstands my misrepresentation and dissent, and anyone else’s.
Another thing: I want my relationship with the Truth to be about my relationship with the Truth. Not someone else’s relationship to my relationship to the truth. Not my relationship to someone else’s relationship to the truth. My love of the Truth shouldn’t be dependent on someone else’s approval of that relationship. I shouldn’t feel insecure because someone thinks my vision is faulty. I should be happy, and grateful, that I see at all and that I see what I see, however dimly.
There’s no single pathway to the Truth, and not even to each truth. What I have needed to see what I see is not necessarily what someone else needs. I can’t claim to really know what they need. All I can do is share what others are willing to receive.
The Truth is good for all the things I can’t predict. Devotion to the Truth results primarily in unintended and unpredictable effects. I have all the things I intend in sharing the Truth, but in the end, the Truth has its own effects. And sharing the Truth can’t really be about pursuing the effects I want. It should be about sharing the Truth. And then things will just happen.
Then there’s the question of whether I want to be a friend of Truth, or a repository of truth. That is, do I want to relate to the Truth as an other, a distinct person? Or do I want to relate to truth as a possess-able and mechanical summation of parts? If the former, then I should be aware that I can invite the Truth into a situation, but that he may have his own aims and ideas, and that to exercise excessive control over these aims is to essentially delude myself into believing that I can be the dictator of the Other. If the latter, then the truth will never be more than I, and I’m not interested in that sort of god.
Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops.
This is a very interesting reflection, Chris. I have been struggling with the relation to Truth for many years. I am convinced it is out there, but the millions of tiny truths that make it up and how they make patterns that are useful in understanding are in constant question. I am sad that we have less and less time and patience to work through the rational pathways to come to agreement. I can’t give up on trying to get on the same page. Or at least, I am very reluctant to give it up. You have given me some ways to think about it.