Although I haven’t read it yet, I laughed when I saw that there is an article in this morning’s Times, with the headline: “Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth.” Many is the time that I have witnessed folks, always smart, using their logic as a weapon, but believing that it was revealing truth to them.
On my job (at Family Focus Adoption Services – damn commercials) we are in the process of changing all our training for new adoptive parents. It is shaping up as a wonderful training and I expect that it will be very helpful to the new parents and very protective for the children that are placed with them. Our focus is on truth as it is experienced by both the multiply rejected children and the novice adopters. But such truth comes out of experience and not out of academia or science. As a matter of fact such truth may even be factually false.
For example, there is no such thing as “sunrise” or “sunset.” Despite the fact that the newscasts and newspapers all give us the times for such every single day, they don’t really exist. And we all know it. In reality, the sun does not rise, nor does it set. But in our experience it does both. And it is our experience – our perspective – that matters in our day-to-day life. The fact that the earth is hurtling through space at incredible speeds is scientific truth, but not experiential truth. None of us are holding on for dear life as the earth races through space.
It is experiential truth that we use to make our regular day to day decisions. And it is experiential truth that will determine whether or not people are willing to commit to these multiply rejected kids and whether or not they keep to those commitments. All the Erik Erikson information on the stages of child development or the Elizabeth Kubler Ross work on the stages of grief and loss – true though they may be – will not help much when one is confronted by a child who lies all the time, and about the stupidest things.
But learning that it is never the behavior, but rather the meaning that we attribute to the behavior, that consistently trips all of us up in our relationships is an experiential truth – whatever its validity scientifically – that gets us looking and thinking. And gives us the hope of getting past our anger and frustration at the lying. Experiential truth ultimately is what motivates us to change.
When we change our perspectives, which is the hope of the new training – and of this blog obviously – we change our experience, actually our recognition, of truth. When our perspective deepens, we deepen that recognition of truth. Reason and logic can be tools towards that end, but no matter what either tells us, in the end experience is what we mostly go by.
When Luis was younger, the new day to him did not begin at midnight, a concept far too abstract for him. Rather, it began when he woke up in the morning. If he woke up in the middle of the night, that was not the new day for him. It wasn’t his waking up that determined his new day, it was the sun being up. Logically wrong. Experientially right. And midnight on New Year’s Eve did not compute for him. He went to bed, instead.
Shakepeare had Hamlet put it: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Our job in the new training is to show our families some of those “more things.” Even if those things would not pass muster in the scientific or academic worlds. Or more likely: within our materialistic and consumer culture.