And seeking courage.
So, this fellow posts perhaps five or ten times a day, on FaceBook, anonymous memes accusing “them” of outrageous acts, statements, or attributes. And every time I ask him to provide some related facts, he declines. My zeal about this became so intense, that I must look in the mirror and ask myself what’s up with me. How or why am I so enamored of facts?
It came up in a separate discussion, that some folk are “fact-oriented” and others are not. My political posts on FaceBook, as also those of some others of my Friends, consist of links to news articles. Why others post instead as this fellow does may remain a mystery to me. Do they want to live in a world of make-believe? Doesn’t that entail some cost? I may never understand, and may need to accept that I may never understand, and may need to give up seeking to understand; as it’s a matter of seeking certainty and control. Once I’ve got something figured out, well, then, I’m in charge. But I’ll never be in charge of this situation.
What’s at stake for me?
- Certainty vs. confusion;
- Basis for courage.
A FaceBook post from March 8, 2021:
Certainty vs. confusion
Still trying to figure out WHY I’m so hung up on facts.
Discussions with my brothers about why this is so prominent in my family, usually come down to this: dishonesty creates confusion. Life’s a lot simpler if you stick to facts.
We can see this easily in terms of personal relationships with people we meet every day. If so-and-so says things that aren’t so; well, you go through a learning process, until you conclude that you can’t believe anything so-and-so says, and can’t count on him or her for anything.
One office I worked in for 3½ years, a prominent law firm in Baltimore, I wound up calling “a diseased system.” There were half a dozen or more people with severe personality disorders, and they were constantly pulling each others’ strings. One individual stands out, though. Joan constantly engaged in gossip and rumor, saying — Note, these remarks weren’t innocuous. They were nasty. — nasty things about co-workers, that other people believed.
OK, her statements had no factual basis.
This caused a lot of bad feelings, hurt feelings, and confusion and turmoil in the office.
We’re all pretty distant from political figures and the online people who say political things. But note the first words of this blog post: the things this person says about others are, indeed, nasty. And without factual basis. And cause lots of bad feelings and turmoil.
Basis for courage
Facts have been central to my question for courage — an attribute in which I am quite weak. Whereas I have had the lifetime vision of being one who encourages others — per Isaiah 35:3-4, “Strengthen the weak hands,/ and make firm the feeble knees./ Say to those who are of a fearful heart,/ ‘Be strong, do not fear!'” — I have little courage myself. This is an immediate need at this moment, given questions surrounding The William Tell Show: What should its goals be? Will it succeed? Can it succeed?
Taking my courage from facts, those things of which I can be absolutely certain, goes back a long way. From “Paying my dues, singing the blues?” (07/09/14):
In times of crisis, I find confidence in two places, one concrete and external, the other inward and spiritual.
Outwardly, I turn my attention to those things of which I can be absolutely certain: my concrete, material circumstances here and now. For example, at this moment I write with a pen in my right hand, in a notebook on a clipboard in my lap; I sit in a plastic chair, wearing blue jeans and an olive green cotton shirt. This focus frees my mind from emotional and social turmoil. Whether or not I like what is, becomes immaterial. I can deal with it.
The indisputable facts of my immediate situation: I can take enough certainty from these, as to need practically no certainty about anything else.
Moreover, especially these past ten years, I have done tremendous work towards becoming more fact-oriented. William Tell aspires also to be a peacemaker, bringing calm to the rampant, futile strife of our political discussions. Unprovable theories, opinions that have no factual basis, value judgments — these are the things about which there is strife. If we can agree about facts — when people recognize and embrace the mere facts — there is no more dispute.
What happens when the facts can’t be known?
From “The Bogeyman:”
If you stand in a brightly-lit room, and look into a dark room, you won’t be able to see what’s really in there. You will see, instead, whatever you imagine; if you choose to be afraid, you’ll see things to be afraid of. And the more afraid you become of them, or alternatively the more you hate them, the more vivid the images become, the more real they appear — even though they don’t exist at all.
This is the bogeyman, and where the bogeyman lives.
Ironically, this scenario that describes, for many people, the basis for fear; serves also as the scenario whereby I may obtain courage.
The world is an orderly place. The same laws of physics that apply in the bright space, apply in the dark space as well. There is a continuum from here to there, and the facts as they are here, are likely to continue in there. Newton’s Second and Third Laws of Motion: object in motion in a certain direction at a certain speed, will continue in that direction and at that speed, unless there is some active force to change them.
I remember one afternoon walking back to the shelter from my church, thinking about these things. I focused my attention on the pavement beneath my feet. The exact same pavement had been in this place yesterday, and in all likelihood would still be in that same place tomorrow. I can count on that.
So, things as they are provide basis for making and acting on plans. With confidence. With courage.
What about karma?
I used to be in terror, from time to time, that unforeseeable disaster may await me, when at some time in the future certain karma may catch up to me from my past. The answer to this: nothing can happen that will make the world unravel. Karmic matters follow Newton’s Laws of Motion also; and this is, finally, another platform on the basis of which I can plan and act. I will be able to deal positively with whatever comes.
So, my quest for courage is all based on facts.