I feel it is necessary to preface this with a disclaimer. I am not, nor have I ever been, a scholar. I am not a college graduate. I passed high school by the skin of my teeth. All of my education and knowledge is from reading I have done on my own with no expert guidance of any kind, with the exception of the authors of the books I have read. All of my claims and theories are purely my OPINION. I have changed my mind many times about what I believe and what is real. From my current perspective “truth” is and always will be a lie. There is no truth. I accept the paradox that this statement presents, and understand that many will see it as the fatal flaw in my argument. I request only that you read this with an open mind.
Everything we experience is ours alone. Each moment is filtered through everything that came before it, by every individual, in a very personal way. The present is viewed through a lens crafted by the past. No lens is the same, so no present can possibly be the same. This is the reason for which I have been in an existential crisis my entire life. The question of what is real has always plagued me. Everything is lucid until you start to think about it. There were many conflicting ideas presented in my early years to make me question the nature of reality and how people think. Religion was a primary factor in my confusion. Why was it acceptable for a guy to turn water into wine and come back from the dead, but not for Willow to have acorns that turn people to stone and a stick that turns a ferret into a woman?
The distinction between truth and fiction became blurred for me, but it wasn't the kind of thing you could challenge without causing an uproar. People tend to get pissed off when you compare religion and fantasy. In my innocent mind I didn't see a difference between Jesus and Merlin, and to be honest, I still don't. In the interest of not being burned at the stake as a heretic, I have no problem with religion. My problem is with having countless people try to shove it down my throat. If you want to believe something, go ahead. All I ask is that you have a functioning understanding of what it is you actually believe and the intellect to defend it peacefully.
To fight for an idea, especially one that isn't your own, on blind faith is foolish. I cannot count how many times I have gotten into an argument with someone who doesn't fully understand what they are fighting for. When you question the beliefs of someone who has never questioned them themselves, often you are met with a great amount of anger. This defensiveness and hostility towards thinking independently has frightened me as long as I can remember. How can so many people aggressively defend something they don't understand? Even when you find a way to make the zealots see the flaws and logical contradictions of their faith, they become hostile because you have shaken their fundamental understanding of life. This aggression has become a signpost for me.
We are all under guard when our beliefs are in question, but the insecure and close-minded attack when they feel that those beliefs are threatened. Truly enlightened people accept the views of others and adjust their own where needed. It is possible to have a heated argument without it decaying into a fight. When people become enraged with me, it shows me that they are beginning to question what they believe and the seed of doubt has been planted. Having gone to Catholic schools my entire life, I have met plenty of religious people that fully understand their dogma. We have had peaceful debates and gone our separate ways hoping that the other has been changed by our own views. All the while knowing that nothing has changed, but we have acquired new ideas to challenge in our next encounters. This is the evolution of understanding in practice.
In high school I started to think about the world in a purely logical way. I realized that perception was the key to transcending the debate over what was true and what wasn't. I thought about the way people viewed the world. Not just their point of view, but their beliefs and approach to understanding the universe. The catalyst for what may be the greatest (or worst) thing that ever happened to me philosophically was the ability to perceive color. I wondered if any one observer was in fact seeing the same color as any other observer. I had a very long conversation with a friend, who approached contemplation as logically as I did, about this concept. We came to the conclusion that two people looking at the same “color” could see two different colors, yet they would call it by the same name. Some colors can be described by other adjectives such as “warm” or “cool”, however beyond that, a color can only be described by the things that are of that color.
After considering this, I realized that even categorizing colors by the emotions they evoke was insufficient. Everyone would have learned to associate the perceived color with the same feelings anyone else would have, regardless of the disparity of their points of view. In lay man's terms, if you see red as you do, but I see red as what you would call blue, we would both agree that “red” is warm because the color I see (although it is what you would call blue) is named red and would describe all the same things. For example, you and I see an electric stove's coils heat up, you see red where I see blue, yet we both call it “red”. Both of us associate that color with heat or warmth.
The conflict of something so basic left me to wonder if everything was like this. Could reality be an amalgam of the overlapping perceptions of people in close proximity? The perception of color has already been proven to have regional biases. Could cultural differences be caused by the differences in localized perception? I called this effect a “false reality” because nothing would actually be real, but simply what is agreed to be real. I wanted to understand the difference between what is “true” and what is “real”. From this perspective facts became simply what the majority of people believe to be true. Every conception is still malleable and if enough people changed their perception of the illusion of truth, fact could be overturned.
Reality is an illusion. Every entity in the history of self-awareness has contributed to the current perception of “truth”. How we view our world defines how we interact with it. The people around us see the same world, yet we all see things differently. It is possible for two people who live in the same space to see the world differently yet still coexist. They don't, however, live in the same reality and they pursue a different truth. Truth is the unattainable thing that has haunted humanity forever.
Consciousness evolves as does everything else. The work we do now becomes the scaffold for future generations to build upon. It is necessary for us to have conflicting ideals for our children to challenge the status quo. The true endgame is the proliferation of species and intellect. The amassing of knowledge and the assurance of it's preservation is the singularly most important thing to me. The more points of view there are, the more avenues of thought there will be. When the day comes that we all agree on everything, curiosity dies and so do we. Challenge everything.