8/5/12 Use the Truth You Have

A recurring theme for this blog has been the search for the real truth . . . that compete one which is objective and immutable. It is very elusive. Until we find it, we are forced to use such truth as we have in our possession, which may be partial, relative, and the one provided to us by filtration. You remember that one? It is the truth others would provide to us for their own purposes, the one that has been picked apart, dissected, with only those elements supporting a particular world, political, or religious view being regurgitated back to persuade us to share the same view. Who wants predigested truth? It seems as appetizing as predigested food.

Even people who have the real truth seldom share it with us completely because they understand that the real truth is something that one has to acquire for one’s self; it can not be imparted by the giver, being apprehended only by the discernment of the seeker. The real truth never needs embellishment. The real truth never needs editing. The real truth never needs bending. If the real truth gets handled carelessly, it soon stops being the real truth.

What we think we know about things and what we actually know are hardly ever the same, for the former is the relative truth and the latter is the real truth, provided that the we actually know enough to get at the real truth. Since the things we think we know far outweigh the things we actually know, the real truth remains elusive. If we live long enough and are wise enough, we eventually learn to stop insisting that others accept the real truth that we have managed to acquire, and merely point them in the right direction.

It’s sort of like having guests at a dinner banquet who arrived a bit late. The banquet has been laid out and all the other guests are already eating, enjoying that which has been prepared for them. If I am a good host, I will see to it that the latecomers are received in good form. Receiving them in good form does not particularly mean that I must prepare each and every one of them a plate of food, proportion the plate just as I think would be best, and serve it to them at their assigned seats. After a welcome to the late arrivals, it is safe for me to make some assumptions about them.

Assumptions! I always laugh when someone jumps on the old joke about assumptions.

“You know what happens when you assume!” folks love to say, “You make an ass of you and me!”

I always love to say back, “That’s certainly possible, but life offers no hope of success or profit without assuming some things are true and then ACTING on them.” Assuming something is true and acting on it has a specific name. It is called FAITH, which is one of the most powerful things in human experience.

Now, back to my guests.

  • I assume they wanted to come, because there they are.

  • I assume they are hungry, because, after all, they came to a dinner banquet expecting to eat.

  • I assume it would be impolite to assume that they are comfortable with their own late-arrival and assume it would be a good thing to get up and give them an extra special welcome to put them at ease.

  • I assume that if I point out the banquet table to them, and the end where the plates and silverware are located, they can fill their own plates as they desire.

  • I assume it is not necessary for me to fill their plates for them, since I just pointed them to a long table filled with food.

  • I assume they will be able to manage from there.

  • I may have assumed correctly.

  • I most likely have assumed correctly.

It is also possible that I have made an erroneous assumption somewhere in that assumptive process.

After returning to my own seat, I glance back towards the late arrivals. They all seem to be making it fine, all of them working their way back to a seats where they can enjoy their food. All but one, that is.

She looks lost, obviously searching for something she cannot find. She peers intently up one end and down the other of the long banquet table. Since she continues to look for whatever it is, lingering, lingering, I decide I need to see if I can help her. I get up and meander through the crowd to her side.

“May I help you find something?” I ask her.

“I can’t find the gravy,” she said.

The others in her party had found it, right next to the dressing, which was the logical place for it. She had managed to miss it several times.

“Here it is,” I say.

As she turns towards it, I am already there. I grab the ladle from the gravy boat, fill it to capacity, and hold it out towards her offering to put it on her dressing. She peers at it for a moment as if confused, and after an initial movement of her plate towards the spoon, she pulls it back, saying, “No, thank you. I don’t like that kind of gravy.” She then gives me a big smile and hustles off to her seat to join her friends.

I stand there with the gravy ladle in my hands, a bit puzzled, but satisfied I have been a good host. I assumed she wanted some gravy. She, however, seemed satisfied by simply knowing it was there. Some folks don’t like giblet gravy on their dressing. I assumed everyone did.

I laughed at myself as I returned to my seat, noting as I did that she seemed to be really enjoying her full plate and the company of her friends. I assume she was having a good time, even without the gravy. Then, I laughed again and turned to my other guests, making sure that everyone knew that there was plenty at the table, that they could have their fill. I assume no one went away hungry, but I can’t be certain. I can just be certain that the table was filled and that everyone was made, by the most diligent human effort,  to feel welcome at it.

After the dinner was over, several people remarked that the giblet gravy was particularly tasty. They looked at me funny as I laughed out loud at their suggestion.

“It was pretty good, wasn’t it?” I said, adding with a shrug of my shoulders, “But, you know, some folks don’t like giblet gravy. I assumed everyone did.”

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