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.