we do not live in a post-truth world

the truth belongs to all of us.  no one entity holds monopoly on reality.  that means no one person, no one religion, no one movement, no one belief-system, gets to dictate the truth.

& if you’ve bought into something that gives the power to define truth over to some false authority– stop— look around — use your phone to find yourself a library or a bookstore.

you’ll find bound volumes there of truth seekers who have pitched in to buy you out.

i am deliberately lifting language here from the work of Saul Williams who i believe is among the greatest living poets.

“what have you bought into/how much will it cost to buy you out?/ what have you bought into/how much will it cost to buy you out?”

i found his work when i was a young teenager & deeply unsatisfied with the educational system.  i was hungry for truth.  & so i used all the tools i had to find it.  i had already been exposed to the muslim mystic poet rumi, & the american queerness of walt whitman’s leaves of grass, so i knew poetry was a good place to look for unfiltered access to eloquent truths.

& fuck, Saul Williams speaks some big truths.

2003.  i had just turned 14.  i bought a copy of ,said the shotgun to the head. read it straight through.  crying.  it was as if i’d been waiting for permission to see what i felt & thought as truth for much longer than just those 14 years.  & that book gave me permission to feel & to think differently.  it shook me.  it shaped me. (i biked to the bookstore & special ordered his book s√he, but was never able to track down a copy of the seventh octave.)

after each re-read i would stare at the photo in the back of the book of the dark  man who wrote those truths in the form of a poem & thank him.

2006.  when the dead emcee scolls was released, i bought it in the first week. i was 16.  always hungry for truth. & Saul delivered.

i return to his published & recorded works again & again, knowing that i only grasp a portion of it’s full meaning. i return to his work to listen, to learn, to be reminded that i am not alone.  truth seekers are part of a bigger tribe.  & i felt myself in the call, the foot stomp, the embrace of outsider status, the return, the desire for a better world.

in my well worn, dog-eared copy of the dead emcee scrolls there is only one page that has my marks added to it.  it’s the portion of coded language where he lists the names.  i love that list.  there are names that i’ve underlined in black pen, those are the names i knew at 16.  but see, i used that list.   i took it to the library.  i searched the internet.  every time i was exposed to a new artist or writer or thinker, i would run their name–mentally–through the list.  check back.  see if they had truth for me.  the names underlined in pencil are the ones i had learned about in the time between 16 and 23.  when i first read James Baldwin’s essay “Letter from a Region in my Mind” a spark went up– aha!  so this was Baldwin, of the list!

we do not live in a post-truth world.

i know this because the precarious stacks of books in my room did not vanish overnight.

if you have ever sought truth from the mouths of those in power (or those wanting power from you) you have been looking for bread at the hardware store & you gotta cut that shit out or you will starve.

the lies are loud.

& they’re constant.

& i’m terrified by the growing roar this wall of lies is building between us, around us, through us.

but, the truth will always be available to those willing to seek it. & know that when you are a seeker on a quest for truth you are part of a larger tribe than your nation or your race or your religion because we are larger than all those human-made categories.

so when you find that truth, be brave.  hold it up to the light so we can all see it’s facets and flaws and filaments.

make that list of names of those who have taught you, those who have inspired you, those who have lifted you up. share them.  say their names.  speak your thanks.

 

let those of us who follow carry their names with us into that future we’re building together.

 

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for gathering our truth & our strength

I woke up this morning & struggled to get out of bed.

So, i made myself a small playlist for gathering (our) truth & (our) strength, and after listening to these four songs through a few times i was able to get up & face another day in this twisted cultural moment.

First– a post-rock wail of hope & grief

“when the world is sick can no one all be well?  but i dreamt we was all beautiful & strong.”

every breath-like movement of this song is so honest & raw & expertly crafted that fear is left very little space when the voices of other strong feelings rise up to join.  it’s a long song, but stick through the movements, because the choral end part is a rare form of human perfection: the merging of hope & grief.

 

next up— a modern r&b declaration of exhaustion

“my joy takes nothing from you”

because her voice is hauntingly beautiful & there’s a deep satisfaction in being able to declare DONE with such eloquence & grace.

next up, an a capella psalm

“we remember”

because we all already have the tools we need to start.  the tools are simple.  the tools are within us.  we have shaped them.  they have shaped us.  we will reshape this fractured world.  we remember.  we weep. we rise like water.

 

& finally, our poet/philosopher & one of our great living teachers

“we won’t be silenced, no”

because the fact that we need a global movement affirming that BLACK LIVES MATTER says so much about  the type of crisis we face collectively.  we wont be silenced, no, the noise came from here.  bare feet– all our most human vulnerabilities— against the harsh streets where authority wrongly stole a young life.  powerful video to a beautiful song.

 

hope this helps you reader, wherever whenever whoever you are.  we’ve got more days ahead of us where it’s going to be tough to get out & face a world that seems hostile to our existence & seems hellbent on crushing our resistence. do you have any songs you’d like to add to the playlist for gathering our truth & our strength?