The audacity of uncertainty

Is Truth Dead?

Brandon Scott once wryly observed that most of what passes for Christianity is actually Neo-Platonism. And like Christianity, Platonic ideals of Truth, Beauty, Good and Evil are sure taking a beating these days. Ideals don’t readily translate into the real world, and when we do encounter a singular moment of beauty or truth, we savor it like a glimpse of the divine.

Rarer still in this world is the ability to separate fact from story. Scientists candidly admit that the conclusions reached by hypothesis, experiment, and control groups are provisional at best, pending discoveries made by future studies. Certainty doesn’t get much of a boost from neuroscience, either. Everything we “know” is mediated by our brains—leading anthropologists to conclude that the only “reality” available to us is the consensus of the community.

Fools are more comfortable than most with the power of story—culture—to shape our consensual realities. We have eyes to see that the foundational myths of our culture—separation, isolation, scarcity, competition with the rest of life in a world of “Other”—are unraveling in parallel with our assumptions, our institutions, and our laws. How to navigate this “space between stories?” A relational world snares us in its interdependent web, ever insistent that we’re never alone; that we belong to each other; that our fates are inseparably entangled.

Even postmodern sensibilities can drift into the demoniacally seductive notion that all stories are equally valid. All stories are not equally valid. While culture defines what is beautiful or true—good or factual—it still comes down to choice. We get to choose which story we want to live out of; which stream of consciousness to inhabit. As our stories of nostalgic greatness, walling ourselves in, and preserving our literal and metaphorical bloodlines collapse under their own weight, new stories stir the imagination. Can you hear your heart whispering to you?

Right now, Fools Mission is walking with a woman who, a little over a year ago, set out at 8:00 AM every day to clean houses, followed by a third shift cleaning industrial buildings. She found her way home by 6:00 AM the next morning. Rinse and repeat. For six months. That was how she raised the necessary deposits on an apartment for herself and her two kids, and escaped the shelter system.

Fools choose to live in a world where no one ever has to live this way again. While we continue to pelt Washington with postcards, we will get up from our computer desks, leave the illusory safety of our homes, and record ICE incursions on our phones. We will set out candles, sing, pray, and declare sacred space. We will season our non-theism with nonviolence and noncooperation. And love will prevail—one hopes, before the only choice we have left is to devour our young.