Some years ago I attended a lecture by a Buddhist writer named Stephen Batchelor who spoke on the critical difference between upper case ‘Truth’ and lower case ‘truth’. My brutal summary of his elegant talk is that the lower case truth is the stuff of work, wisdom and discovery while the uppercase Truth trends toward the stuff of static history, conflict and war. We are currently living in a time where we have two sides of a nation firmly convinced they each live in the rapturous shade of uppercase Truth. The complacency afforded through such certainty is sadly contradicted by the current immediacy of civll violence. When we humans resort to violence, thinking errors are in charge and both sides need to deal with those errors. I see no other way out of the nation’s current impasse than self examination and readjustment. The errors in our thinking and responding lie deeper than the factual content of today’s issues.
Facts matter, but they alone in isolation do not constitute a truth. Neither the atmosphere or the ocean temperature can separately express the truth of a particular storm because in isolation they are simply static information. However in relationship they can become dynamic and through that dynamic, the hurricane emerges. The atmospheric energy and the ocean’s temperature form a relationship that delivers the destructive storm. In the course of the storm we can name the hurricane and that name freezes the facts of that hurricane into an uppercase Truth telling a fact based story about a singular relationship of pressure and temperature. What complicates matters is the relationship of these two forces will never exactly occur twice in the same way. Naming and freezing the name with its facts in the upper case Truth allows you to record and describe the storm in detail. From that record you can possibly prepare against the damage of the next emergent weather generated truth. But naming can never completely or with finality capture emerging truth.
Our public policy divide has created its own storm system of conflicting forces that are gaining in strength. In our two party political system your upper case political ideologies can only point to what might happen. The question after this election day is; “What can both parties learn from this election cycle’s declaration about the next emergent lowercase truth of American democracy?” My advice is if you find yourself feeling defeated and frustrated, then truly and courageously witness the consequences of the election outcome, name those consequences and learn from your errors. I am thinking in order to thrive, our response to life and public politics needs to be a direct response to the fluid emergent lowercase truth. The dynamics of todays political events need to be blended with acknowledgment of, rather than rigid compliance with the traditions of the uppercase Truths of yesterday. Remember everything in this universe that is named has a shelf-life and the uppercase can’t protect the name’s content from entropy. The shelf life on some of the strategies, theories, and beliefs that brought us to this point may be up. Let’s find the error in our ways and move on dealing with the emergent truth of this moment in history.