Maybe the better question is: “What ISN’T?”
What isn’t TRUE?
Every single one of us faces that question multiple times every single day. We base the success of a day on how well we navigate that question. “What should I wear today? The weather forecast said rain but they’re wrong so often…?” In our home lives and our business lives, we need to feel as connected as possible to what we think is so — the concrete of existence: what “is”. That leaves our “spiritual lives”. How do we approach the question of “is” in this less certain realm?
Some of us go for all the information we can handle. I’m a string theory guy myself — at least I think I am; I may not grasp its mathematical nuances and complexities but there’s something satisfying about its core logic — as I understand it. It’s not necessarily a given that the Universe works in a way we can easily comprehend. I guess that “mystery” becomes “God” in other peoples’ minds.
And that cuts right to the chase: how do you explain the nuts & bolts of the universe? Do you choose astrophysics or faith? Do you trust math or do you trust wonder?
Even the astrophysicist will get to a place where her equation doesn’t quite balance. Something is missing. Dark matter perhaps? The astrophysicist will suggest one or two theories based on what she does know and then, if she’s any good as an astrophysicist, she’ll say: “I don’t know. Yet.” It’s the “yet” that really matters. As an answer to a question, it’s a blank space.
The other path — faith — couldn’t care less about science. It’s got its own story to tell. A story that looks a lot like reality but isn’t bound by it. To explain the “I don’t know yet’s” it doesn’t worry about proof or evidence, it’s perfectly happy to accept MAGIC as an explanation: “Let there be light”.
The biggest mystery that faith tries to answer — it’s the draw, really, for most people: what happens after we die? Aside from physical rot, science offers nothing; not a jot of hope. Faith offers nothing but HOPE. Faith offers an “Afterlife” where you get to live a better version of your current life, surrounded by all your loved ones in a lovely place that you’ll get to be in forever! Sounds awesome! Sounds phony, too.
Faith can’t offer postcard views of this after life. The can’t point to all the great ratings on Yelp. No one, as yet, has sent back any sort of verifiable communications from The Undiscovered Country. It’s a head-scratcher, isn’t it? But, in fairness, it’s the biggest “I don’t know” we have. Well, it’s the one with the most emotional baggage. It’s the one where the answer — the REAL answer — we’re not going to like it. So we invent a better one — one that assuages the terror of knowing that the very fact of “being” is all any of us has. When that’s taken from us — the fact of our “being” — we’re done.
Our terror is justified. But the part where we make up a kinder, gentler story to make us feel better — that’s bullshit. We’re making it up. Doesn’t matter why. We’re MAKING IT UP.
Let’s zoom in a little closer to quotidian life. Set aside, for a moment, what’s true and what isn’t. We humans live in complex, stratified societies built on a myriad of rules, laws and habits. Some things we’ve done a certain way for so long that we assume it’s as permanent a thing as a mountain. A weekend, for instance.
We all look forward to our weekends, right? We need them. Without them, we’d go bonkers. We’d work ourselves to death. Good thing we invented weekends to solve that problem. Weekends are a human fiction. They don’t exist in time. They’re an invention — that we made up to frame time off from work.
Work, too, is something we made up. We do it, most of us, to afford living. We work to get the money we need to pay rent or mortgage and all our other financial obligations (it’s complicated and expensive living in a complex society). We need more money! Money, of course, is a made-up thing. Humans invented money because bartering in a complex society is hard. How many unstopped toilets should the plumber charge to get a pound of ground meat?
Humans invented Democracy as a way for people to govern themselves (in theory) — without a king or ruler. American humans invented a Constitution to guide that self-governance. They made it all up. Before they did — it “wasn’t”. Ever since this country’s founders did invent Democracy though — it’s fallen on those who’ve followed to maintain this invention — making it better (by amending it) as needed.
Law, too, is a fiction. It’s a vital fiction — but it’s a fiction we all agree to go along with.
At least, that’s the theory — that we’ll all go along with the same fiction — follow the same rules — and agree to be constrained by the same laws. Constrained from doing harm to other people, that is. Experience continues to teach and re-teach us: a certain percentage of human beings are outright rat bastards. They can’t be trusted to maintain the fiction. They think or act like the fiction doesn’t apply to them.
Right now, as we stand here today, the United States of America is in the hands of criminals. For real. Criminals have seized control of our Ship Of State. But not just criminals — traitors. The very worst kind of criminal. Donald Trump and the Republican Party have placed themselves squarely outside the rules (made-up as they are) that the rest of us live by.
That has to stop.
But how? How do you stop someone operating outside the rules while you’re constrained by them?
The quickest way — We admit to ourselves that we’re living inside made-up rules. We agree that we want to continue living under these rules. If that’s so then we agree to reconsider the rules in the context of criminal behavior bent on destroying those rules. We don’t have to be led to our own political slaughter just cos the rules we invented say we have to.
That is utter bullshit. And all we have to do is “confess”: we’re making it all up as we go along.