Veritas, the latin word for truth, was the official credo of Harvard University. From the moment I stepped foot into Harvard Yard as a freshman, I was both enamored and frantically confused at it's meaning. At first, it seemed as though there were some ultimate truth, as if through four years of liberal arts core curriculum you could somehow become steeped in the vast knowledge of all that was true and just in this world. I have to admit, some of my classes did make my think a good amount about it...
So what then, is truth? It appears to me that we all have our individual truths, morals that we hold near and dear, in order to protect our way of living, guiding our everyday interactions in both our public and private lives. There are public truths, such as laws, that guide our actions strictly when we are in public, and sometimes even in private, for example, when we violate noise ordinances. These truths are fairly easy to come by and to understand.
As a child, like many others, I was born to parents that raised me in the same religion that they had been brought up, and I learned what it was to be moral through bible stories and the corresponding teachings. Most of these lessons were solid, as most bible lessons are-don't kill, steal, rape, etc...
However, as I got older, I began to question where these morals actually came from. It might be hard to argue against "thou shalt not kill", yet in certain circumstances today, like self-defense and the death penalty, it is perfectly acceptable. So where have these truths come from?
When Moses reach Mt. Sinai and delivered the tablets to the Israelites perhaps? I always wondered why God had to be such an exclusive entity. I mean, if he were omni-potent/powerful, why not reveal himself to the whole of humanity and settle all these silly disputes over who is right once and for all? The religious crowd would most likely argue, "It is God's test to see who truly has faith". God has been playing too many games if you ask me. It's like saying god has allowed human atrocities for millennia because he wants to test our resolve?! Really? How about some help there big guy...
I digress-the truths that I held onto throughout my childhood, such as be good to all people, and lend a hand to those less fortunate have been tested during my young adult life. Like a tattered scooner limping from a hurricane I continue to believe that people are inherently good, even though I have witnessed overwhelming evidence of the contrary. As a man who adheres to the scientific process as a grounds for truth, a part of me wants to rethink my hypothesis, perhaps something more to the tune of, "People are good, except when presented with an opportunity to better their financial or social position, which leads to the majority of people assuming the role of asshole."
But this is life, as I have come to learn. People will be assholes, and the ideals and morals that have been installed in me often times will not found in others, and visa versa. I however, will continue what has become my moral inquisition on the whole of humanity. Perhaps I need to find others like me, who think like me, in order to streamline this process. I really don't want to change anyone, and in an ideal world I would escape to some far off mountain range like in Atlas Shrugged, and live a life where I didn't have to question the morals of others. This is of course rather arrogant of me to think that I have a set of values that are worth adhering to, but this is my truth, and I do think they are worth living for.
The search continues :)
8 months ago