Radical Love: Trusting in a Pre-Truth, Post-Trust World

a red balloon against a blue sky, a man stands before it with his back turned in shadow
Image by Hello Turkey Toe / CC BY

“You know what’s wrong with the world right now?” I ask Skyspook.

“What’s that?’

“We’ve connected our hate while keeping our love separate. That’s backward. We’ve siloed and shared the wrong things.”

He frowns. “Maybe. That’s a little overly simplistic though. It’s more than that.”

And in the moment, I’m frustrated with him. I almost have it. Hope. It’s like a helium balloon that keeps trying to fly away, and at the last second, I find the string to pull it back to me.

Pre-Truth/Post-Trust

The big phrase of a few weeks ago was that we’re living in a “post-truth world.” That the facts don’t matter. That we’ve reached a cultural dilution of meaning where one person’s fact is as good as another person’s lie.

But the thing is? We’re not post-truth. The truth is still whatever it is, and we as humans are inching ever closer to it without ever quite reaching it. Becoming a little less wrong every day as our collective knowledge is questioned. Sometimes it holds. Sometimes it’s discarded. But just like children giving away our old toys to make room for bigger and better things, we let go of knowledge that we’ve outgrown.

If we’re doing it right. There may always be some who cling to the past, cowed by uncertainty.

So we’re not post-truth. We are arguably pre-truth, forever approaching but never quite reaching it.

What are we “post” then?

We’re post-trust. We have reached a place of conspiracy chic, doubt chic. Where if the truth is unpleasant or challenges us, we find ways to kick it in. With the Internet at our fingertips, we can always find someone willing to echo our own beliefs.

It’s easy to find someone to validate our fear, to provide a false sense of certainty. Never mind the larger consensus. Or a quest to better ourselves and society. Modern life is about comforts, and perhaps the most dangerous comfort of all? Emotional comfort.

In such an environment, love is a radical act. Especially selfless love. Love that trusts without testing or smothering. Love that lets go of certainty.

Truth Feels Uncertain

I realize later that Skyspook is right. It’s not quite as simple as connecting love and separating hate. There has to be more to it than that.

I’m not getting off that easily. No satisfying echo. No audible click. That is not what the next truth feels like. The new truth feels uncertain.

Hope is supposed to wander. Otherwise, why would we reach?

“I was wrong about the separating love, connecting hate thing,” I say to him. “You were right. It’s too simple.”

“I don’t know about that,” he says, heaping new uncertainty upon old doubt. “And I’m sorry if I discouraged you.”

“It’s okay,” I say. “I think I’m starting to figure things out. Either that, or I’m going crazy.”

“You’re figuring things out,” he says, taking my hand.

Radical Love

I would like to finally be able to “be the bigger person.” Take my nemeses into my arms. Forgive them. Holding fast, even if they squirm like cats forced to cuddle. Scratching. Biting.

It’s an odd waking dream. Too simple by itself, but a place to start.

I’m practicing¬†on those closest to me, lovers and friends. Building up momentum to reach across to those that aren’t as close.

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