With the abundance of information flying around each moment, how are we to know what’s true and what information is being bent for someone else’s agenda? Who can we trust when it’s been proven that Exxon and Shell knew about climate change decades ago and engaged in a campaign to cover it up so they could still sell their products?
Did you know that six corporations own 90% of our media in the United States? How can we possibly be provided with fair and balanced news when we’re eliminating independent journalists and replacing them with businesses interested in driving up profits? The news isn’t a business; it cannot be – if we want to know what’s really going on. The “profit at all costs” mentality has us being fed information about hollywood stars, reality television, and other distracting yet sensationalized stories.
With corporations creating “news” and disinformation everywhere, it’s difficult to feel like we know what’s actually going on. Each side has a number of perspectives, which one is the real one? How do we find wisdom in our day to day? How do we stay engaged in seeking truth when this culture seems hell bent on distracting us from the bigger picture?
Here are a few tips:
1) Digest multiple stories from a variety of outlets. If you’re looking for truth, try to find news publications outside of the United States. Al Jazeera, BBC, and The Guardian are news outlets that have been proven trustworthy. Check out an image depicting where news outlets fall on a political and trustworthy scale. Do your news outlets skew one way or another?
Consider checking out who funds the website where you get your information. Who is paying to put content into the world? Do they have an agenda?
Find some documentaries about a subject of interest. Who made the film? Are they seekers – trying to uncover truth with integrity? Are they using propaganda and trying to get you to think a certain way? Do they back up their claims with data?
2) Social Media is not news. Our community on Facebook and Twitter shares news constantly; I share news there. We must remember that social media companies, too, have an agenda. They have algorithms that choose the content you’ll see and bury other things. Do you noticed your feed is catered to your “likes” and “interests”? Maybe step outside social media and search for your news. Watch for independent sources. Realize that as the content you’re being delivered becomes more specific, you can lose sight of the bigger picture. What’s happening elsewhere in the world?
3) Does what you’re hearing and seeing feel true? Can you slow down enough to think critically and let information sink into your body? We in the West pride ourselves on busyness. It’s honorable if you can pull through a 15 hour day. Day after day. Our culture tells us that if we keep ourselves busy, we’re well on our way to success. (After all, time is money, right?)
If we want to find truth, we have to slow down. We have to sit with the stories we’re being told. We have to ask ourselves if the stories feel true. Does our gut agree with what was presented?
Did you see the footage of the children in Syria with blank expressions because every aspect of their world is unsafe? Did you read that we’re sleep walking our way into the 6th Mass Extinction? What does it feel like to sit with these images and thoughts? It hurts to think about these things, if we can sit with them long enough. It hurts to know that not only are we complicit in these problems (being consumers in Western culture), but we often look away because it’s too painful to stay present with difficult truths. It takes effort and commitment to try to take in difficult things. It takes effort and commitment to sit with problems that we don’t know how to fix. If we want to uncover truth, we must be willing to face it. We must invite the truth, along with the uncomfortable feelings that may accompany it, into our body and soul.
What is it like for a Syrian child trying to exist in the day to day? Can you place yourself in her steps? Can you hear the bombs going off and the buildings crumbling? When was the last time she was able to sleep peacefully and safely?
Can you feel the weight of knowing human beings are causing a massive die off of unique species? Can you see the world becoming a little less colorful with each passing species? Can you hear the silence as we extinguish birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles? If someone hasn’t recorded their calls, we’ll never hear them. They are gone. Forever.
4) Read books, articles, poems from people who have wisdom to share. Watch their videos. Check out ancient philosophers: Socrates, Cicero, Aristotle. Folks like Alan Watts, Gandhi, Malcolm X, MLK Jr, Ralph Waldo Emerson have insights to share. Modern day wisdom-seekers are accessible now! Look into Joanna Macy, Charles Eisenstein, Jason Silva, Mary Oliver, or Prince Ea. Wisdom is everywhere – find people asking big questions and look into how they’ve sought to answer them.
Start asking your own questions. Why do we exist on this particular planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy? Why is Earth the only place that has life (that we know of)? How did life come to exist? What is the purpose of life in general? What is the purpose of my life? Who inspires me? What types of questions move me? What brings me meaning? When I’m 85, how do I want to have lived my life? How do I want to be remembered? Am I living a way that is congruent with how I want to be remembered? What changes can I make to live the most meaningful life I can live? What’s keeping me from making the changes I want to make?
5) Discuss big questions (even if they don’t have an answer) with your community. Who in your life is safe to have deep conversations with? Open up to them and engage in real dialogue. Skip the sports chatter or the updates on your favorite TV show. Ask the person sitting next to you what it means to lead a life of meaning? Ask them about the last time they were moved by something. Give the person next to you a hug, and thank them for being a part of your life. Tell your friend something about them that brings you gratitude.
When we break down barriers to open conversations, we stretch closer to the truth. When we’re not listening to answer and instead listening to hear, we foster and grow connections with the ones we love. These connections, these deep conversations open doors to wisdom and truth we didn’t know were possible. Try it. Don’t miss an opportunity to build connections with the people around us. Create the opportunity to learn from someone else – to view the world from her perspective. What is it like to be her? How does it feel? What does she value? What moves her?
If you take some time and try these five suggestions, I guarantee you’ll be closer to wisdom, which uncovers truth. There may be information flying at us from everywhere, but when we’re searching from a place of connection, integrity, and insight, the truth becomes more apparent.
How do you uncover truth, wisdom, and insight?
Where do you get your information from?
How does it feel to sit with difficult truths?
After an open conversation, how do you feel?
When you get to the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered?
Are you living a life of integrity right now?
When was the last time you mindfully hugged someone? How did it feel?