The Paradox of Truth and Survival: Why Truth Needs Collective Liberation

Illustration credit: Mari Shibuya. .

I want to be alive and believe true things. I find these hard to do at the same time.

For me to believe true things, I first have to be alive. And to stay alive, I need to socialize. So here’s where the paradox begins. We are all socialized in order to survive. This is where our beliefs come from, and each of us has lots of them: about the way the planet works, about the way others work, about who is the “other” and why. In the process of staying alive and being socialized, we acquire all kinds of beliefs. And we all have false ones.

All of us.

So the paradox is: in order to believe true things, we need to be alive, but being alive entails falsehoods from socialization. Falsehoods keep us alive. Falsehoods keep us connected. If there’s a dominant idea that’s false, it’s very hard — due to power dynamics — not to believe it. Because that idea is serving people, and it’s to their best interest that that belief is successful in society. Once you adopt a false belief, it’s hard to believe otherwise, because if you don’t, you might not remain connected to the people who support your existence. And that’s a scary thing.

So how do we seek truth then, and still survive? How do we seek truth and socialize?

A great place to start is looking at where your beliefs came from, and understanding them in the context of power. Who has power in this society? Who had power in your childhood? How closely do your beliefs resemble theirs? Then start seeking new sources of information and new sources of socialization. Your perceptions will change and you’ll start to be confused. You’re on the right track.

I have a method of truth-seeking called “diversifying my delusions,” and I do it by practicing free association. Everyone has delusions, so if I diversify the people around me and don’t have a strong power dynamic with any one of them — by freelancing and living alone — then I’m not compelled to believe any particular thing due to power dynamics.

This is why, in pursuit of truth, I stay away from school. The power dynamic between student and institution is too strong. I prefer insights from the struggle to stay alive and the library. This is also why, in pursuit of truth, black power is so important to me (as a non-black person). I don’t want to be compelled to believe a certain way because a dominant group has power. In a world of white power and white media, black power is an opportunity for truth.

All of this matters to me because truth matters to me. I want to be alive and believe true things. In order to do that, all of us need to have power: collective liberation.

I want all people to have power, so we can have access to truth. No one person is 100 percent correct. All of us are partially delusional. I want everyone to have power so our delusions can diversify. So that we can all be wrong together and stay alive. So that we can all help each other get closer and closer to truth. I want this world to flourish with diverse power for rich experiences and access to truth.

I don’t want truth and survival to be a paradox. I want collective liberation, so I can be alive and believe true things.

Vanessa Molano is a systems thinker for social transformation who’s creating , a course that puts forth comprehensive social alternatives.

Vanessa Molano is a philosophical entertainer, putting on shows about strange loops, social structures, and what makes life worth living.

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Vanessa Molano

Vanessa Molano

Vanessa Molano is a philosophical entertainer, putting on shows about strange loops, social structures, and what makes life worth living.

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