Truth: “A thousand dogs”

Truth has always been important to me. Post-modernity scrapped the modern concept that there is absolute Truth “out there” which we must find and conform to. It’s popular instead to choose or concoct our own belief system. But I have never bought into that baloney.

In college, seeking truth, I resonated most with socialism and humanism. The propositions of Christianity, by contrast–god becoming man and dying for us–were so counterintuitive and fanciful I couldn’t imagine anyone actually believing them.

I preferred to believe that any belief system would do as long as one was sincere and didn’t hurt anybody else. In fact, as a 16-year old freshperson (is that what they call them now?) at Maunaolu Junior College on Paia, Maui, I won an essay contest and $100 for “students of colleges in Hawaii” with an entry, “The Spiritual Basis for World Brotherhood.” Comparing the Golden Rule with quotes from Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Taoism, Sikhism, Islam, Shakespeare, Hugo, and Dostoyevsky, I claimed all religions are “equal means to the same relative goal,” that we all really just want “to be friends and live harmoniously.”

Its most memorable quote (speaking of evil being more sensational¬† than goodness): “This does not mean that we can be great only by doing evil; on the contrary, a man is ten times greater if he has helped a friend than if he has kicked a thousand dogs.”

But somehow, even if this claim was true, it wasn’t enough for me. It was all very well to agree to a universal moral code, but how was one to live by it? I broke my own standard of righteousness every single day. I wanted to start over, with a clean slate. I wanted, though of course I couldn’t have expressed it that way at the time, a reset button and by the time I was 19, I had botched up my life so royally, I was suicidal.


About Jessica Renshaw
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