Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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Inspirational Tuesday: The Danger of Misinformation

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

“O you who are over the old one who came forth from Imau, I have not made terror.” -translation by R.O. Faulkner

I chose the passage I did about terror when the topic is about misinformation for a couple of reasons. I feel anyone who lives long enough will know of the common ways to inflict terror: intimidation, threats, several forms of violence just to name a few. Violence, however, isn’t the only way to terrorize people. The only thing people need to feel terrorized is a threatening situation. This situation can come in by playing off one’s fears in any way, including propaganda.

This type of fear is where misinformation comes in. A case in point is a recent news article where someone (I won’t even use the word “scholar”) claims he has evidence that Jesus was a composite figure created by Roman aristocrats. While there is a theory Jesus was a composite figure, that isn’t what bothered me. It’s the fact there seems to be a documentary behind it. My personal experience with such sensationalist hypotheses is when someone presents one there’s usually misinformation or something to sell, sometimes both. This is one of the cases where misinformation abounds, and at least one person is tired of it. So why is this misinformation harmful? This article was brought to my attention by Pagans and Kemeticists, who believed the article wholesale and used it as an example to delegitimize Christianity. I wish I made screenshots of all the “See? I knew Jesus wasn’t real” and “Proof at last,” comments. It didn’t take much for me to find out the alleged discovery was bunk. The sad part is I found a link to that review on the r/Atheism subreddit. Yes, atheist Redditors are more willing to put aside their bias than Pagans and Kemeticists to find the truth of a matter. Perhaps it’s more concerning for me because it comes off as an attempt to bash Christians on the part of Pagans and Kemeticists.

Using misinformation to prove someone’s religion isn’t real is harmful because it is usually what perpetuates stereotypes. One study, while not focused on religion, found misinformation led to stereotyping in children. The same scenario easily applies to spouting misinformation about Christianity. When we say “Jesus was really created by Roman aristocrats” we’re implying the poor scholarship is not only true, but Christians are gullible, nebbishy people if they disagree with it. If you don’t believe me I suggest reading this blog post. I wish it could be dismissed as just the case of one forum. Like I said before, though, the comments I saw belittling Christianity on my facebook feed. I’ve even seen groups that continuously assert how Christianity borrows from the Maxims of Amenope while ignoring all the times the Ancient Egyptians borrowed from other religions. The aim of the person who does such things is to insinuate Christianity isn’t a real religion by asserting combining various beliefs and practices isn’t a legitimate form of belief structure.

I’m sure at this point many readers are asking what any of this has to do with causing terror. All too often I’ve found fear mongering and hate mongering are bedfellows. One doesn’t have to look up even the Holocaust to find how mass murder was fueled by perpetuating stereotypes and misinformation, which in turn fueled bigotry and hated. Practitioners of Falun Dafa are systematically persecuted in China with the Chinese government spreading misinformation about the practice in order to fuel animosity towards it and justify horrific acts towards the practitioners. Where there is misinformation, bigotry and hatred are nearby. If nothing else a bias against something is easy to spot. The misinformation is meant to scare people into believing a targeted group is a threat. When someone feels like a group is a threat horrific actions seem justifiable in order to remove it.

If one extrapolates a fearful message from misinformation renders the individual responsible for their actions of instilling terror or harm, even if it’s only the individual in question. If several people attempt to spread misinformation with the intent of causing fear or harm that group is responsible for their actions. Before sharing something that could cause fear or harm to a group, consider the following:

What are your current biases? Consider both positive and negative biases, meaning things you are more inclined to believe because you favor and disfavor them. In the case of misinformation that Christian bashes people I found people will find any information that confirms the bias without digging further into the information. A big clue that a bias is occurring is if someone utters the phrase, “I knew Christianity was bunk,” or something similar.

Does it come in a sensationalist package? It helps to learn to recognize sensationalist media tactics for this one. While mostly made for Canadian media, I believe this site is a great place to learn how to identify media sensationalism.

Practice the “hateful sounding” test. I’m sure there’s an actual term for it, but since it’s something I use to monitor my thinking I gave it the rather uncreative name. What I tend to do is put a marginalized group in place of the group of which I’m speaking. If it sounds like propaganda, it probably is. Here’s how it works: as an example take the phrase, “Christianity isn’t legitimate because it borrows from other religions.” Replace “Christianity” with “Neo-Wicca” and you’ll see what I mean.

Put a bias up to full scrutiny. In other words, research it. Look at why such a bias exists. I have a bias against mega churches due to my views of mega churches and my unpleasant experience with one, as an example. I understand this and try to keep it in check when I see something about a mega church.

Read the counter-arguments to a bias. This is good practice to being a well-rounded person, anyway. It adds perspective and will broaden one’s understanding of a topic. As with any source check for accuracy, reliability, or outdated information. While I dislike mega churches due to how I feel the inherent design of such things deters from the church’s purpose or message, others can eloquently describe how it enhances their experience and helps them feel closer to God through community.

Where possible ask for a clarification of a statement. It’s possible because of a bias something or someone may be purporting misinformation. It’s also possible to give out misinformation which could be fear-inducing for other reasons that aren’t nefarious. Some people simply don’t know they’re putting out misinformation, and some are inarticulate and say something which ends up misconstrued. Asking for clarification of a point made, or asking for a source for that matter (if it’s not given), can clear up things and open dialogue at times.

If called out for a bias or misinformation understand it’s not personal, and vice versa. Don’t poison the well, use bias as an ad hominem, et cetera. Don’t be a jerk if called out, and don’t use a person’s bias or misinformation to vilify a person. When in doubt see the previous tip.

Some of my readers will note this is part of basic critical thinking and manners. I agree wholeheartedly, which is my point. The best way to fight propaganda and misinformation in general is through critically thinking about our views and whatever information we use to support that idea. When we don’t let our emotions guide our thoughts with abandon it also connects to dialogue. If we let emotions get the better of us, those trying to inflict terror will triumph.

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Inspirationial Tuesday: Go Die in a Fire, Namaste!

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

“O Disturber who came forth from Weryt, I have not been hot-tempered.” -translation by R.O. Faulkner

This passage is listed in another document as coming from the sanctuary and with one version saying the confessor hasn’t been heated in his or her words. While I can’t seem to figure out which god is addressed in this confession, this blogger suspects it’s Hatmenhit. I guess all that matters is the idea of the confessor being in control of their emotions. I see it can go to some outrageous ends at times to appear in control. The most often way I see it is through the words used and their real intentions.

All too often I see people who will say the most hateful, vitriolic things to a person followed by some form of well-wi480317_10151292098577371_1483434193_nshing. It’s the strangest concept to me because I don’t understand how a “blessing” will somehow negate the fact one said some hurtful things. When I discussed this with my partner to get some perspective I ended up poking fun at the concept with the phrase, “Go die in a fire, namaste!” It conveys the very idea of some of these behaviors.

We tend to say hurtful things when we’re angry. It’s why it’s important to watch ourselves when we’re angry because we may come to regret it. It may be out of personal remorse either. Sometimes there are social ramifications. You could lose friends, you could lose respect, or you could lose your job or business over it. We’ve all been in that situation where a friendship was ended because of an argument that spiraled out of control over something said in a moment of passion. There are also times when we say something hurtful because we misconstrued the context. I’ve seen all too often on the Internet where discussions turned into hateful shouting matches. I saw one debate generating into a shouting match with a person leaving a forum, and it turned out the person who left was misunderstood due to missing punctuation.

I was taught when I studied Japanese that the Japanese won’t generally say something outright hateful to a person’s face. An example of this is instead of saying someone is “an interesting person” as a euphemism for a derogatory name. I’m not fully certain of the origin of this practice, but I saw it in my experience with working at a Chinese restaurant as well. When I studied Chinese in order to speak with my co-workers the explanation written in the book was it helped the offending party save face. According to the book making someone look bad is a major social faux pas in Chinese culture.

The common pattern I’ve seen with hateful phrases masked with good intentions stems from the same idea as “winning” a shouting match (I use “winning” loosely because no one really wins a shouting match). It’s about looking like a socially upstanding person. It’s understandable; no one wants to look like that(!) person. Even in the Maxims of Ptahhotep it’s advised to not be that person:

If you find a disputant arguing, one having authority and superiority to you, bend down your

arms and bow your back […] If you find a disputant arguing, your equal who is on your own

level, let your virtue be manifest against him in silence when he is speaking ill […] If you find a

disputant arguing, a humble man who is not your equal, do not be aggressive against him in

proportion as he is humble; let him alone, that he may confute himself.

It’s ill advised to argue with superiors for obvious reason, as is for someone “beneath” (with the implication they may not be on the same standing in various ways as you) or equal to you. In the case of not arguing with someone equal to you, not saying anything is the best defense. Depending on the situation it could prove unfavorable. In the case of spouting vitriol followed by some “loving message” it’s problematic because it’s not actually averting conflict to look good. Whether someone realizes it or not it’s actually ending up making oneself look just as bad to take the approach.

In addition to looking disingenuous and equally childish I have to wonder who is really convinced such behavior is acceptable. Obviously the person engaging in it finds it acceptable. They may even trick themselves into believing this is considered healthy behavior. It isn’t, and it’s a behavior which needs to be addressed. I understand pointing this out is now considered “negative”, but I figured people who use dismissive language as this have their own issues. If it’s an issue an individual wants to address there are way which work for me.

Look at your real intentions with such a statement. Why are you really saying this? Are you trying to look like “the better person”? If so, why bother making this statement at all?

What really needs to be said? Sometimes we say things a certain way just because we can. It goes back to the phrase “die in a fire”. We want to say it because it sounds clever without realizing we’re wishing a painful death on someone.

What are the consequences of saying this? We all mess up this one from time to time; we say something without thinking of the consequences. Sometimes we say something for the sake of puffing up when really we’re publicly deflating ourselves.

Does anything need to be said? Sometimes the only way to have a dignified comment is to not dignify something with a response.

It’s just a start of things to consider, and what you’ll need to consider will change depending on the situation. Thinking about our word choices will influence how we view others as well as how we’re viewed by them. It also plays a role in how we view ourselves. When we start looking at how our words reflect on this we can evolve with it.


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Devotional Tuesday Is Now Inspirational Tuesday

Some of you will know I write about my thoughts on the Negative Confessions.  I was always reluctant to write about devotionals based on them because the Ancient Egyptians didn’t have devotionals.  The reason for this is because they didn’t have religious texts in the same sense as the Bible for Christians.  I was afraid in calling them devotionals I would mislead people wanting to learn and gain insight into Kemetic beliefs.  I wrote it just the same, because I thought maybe my experiences could help someone and maybe bring some insight into the Negative Confessions from a modern perspective.

Calling them devotionals still felt funny to me.  Yes, I supplemented my experiences and personal interpretations with wisdom literature.  I even grabbed scholarly sources where possible.  I used a disclaimer to explain this is just my interpretation and to treat it as such as I’m not an Egyptologist.  It still felt dishonest even with my best endeavors to clarify this isn’t actual religious law and ensure I’m not to be seen as an authority figure on the subject.  It probably contributed to why I wasn’t writing them as often as I hoped.

I meditated over the topic for a bit as to figure out whether or not I should keep writing them.  After all, I would eventually run out of Negative Confessions.  I couldn’t come up with a decision each time I meditated.  One night I grew too tired to focus and went to bed.  As I drifted to sleep I had that moment of inspiration that always seem to come before one falls asleep: call them “inspirational”.  Honestly I felt dumb for not thinking of that in the first place; it’s more appropriate to call them such.  It was my aim to give insight and inspire people.  It also allows for me to move beyond the Negative Confessions and more into my life experiences with my faith when I use language that isn’t so dependent on a religious text.

I will probably change the name of the past posts of inspirationals just to have the name reflect the change.  It will take time and not be instant.  I have more posts to write.


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Devotional Tuesday: Trying to Find the Words

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

 

“O Pale One who came forth Heliopolis, I have not babbled.” -transl. R.O. Faulkner

 

I’ve been pretty quiet this past week. Some of it has to do with getting stuff together for the etsy store I run. This quietness, however, is not necessarily an uneasy one. I just haven’t had the time to write as I wanted due to getting some projects together in addition to the work on the etsy store. I’ve felt compelled to write, and I didn’t know about what. As I read through the negative confessions I found this one.

 

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog regularly knows I have a language disorder called cluttering. One of the biggest problems with this disorder is trying to express myself in a concise manner. This leads to a lot of unnecessary talk. Despite my lack of word economy I seem to convey my point well enough, but I fear that I’m not always successful. That’s when my insecurities arise.

 

There are ways that I can get around this, and sometimes they help. I won’t go entirely into my methods because overall it’s irrelevant to the topic. What is relevant is how sometimes I still babble not because of the disorder but because I’m human. Sometimes we want to fill the silence because of our assumptions, such as silence used to express disapproval. This is where learning body language and situations help me. Sometimes the other person feels I may have said something rhetorical. Sometimes they feel I may not have said everything I need to say and are waiting for me to finish. In that case it’s consistent with a passage from the Maxims of Ptahhotep:

 

If you are a leader, be pleased when you hear the speech of a petitioner; do not rebuff him until

his belly is emptied of what he planned / to tell you; the victim of wrong prefers the venting of

his feelings to the performance of that for which he has come…

 

While I disagree that people would prefer to air their grievances rather than remedy them it does convey the point how sometimes people need to “let it out”. When they’re clearly done and need a response, give it. Honestly, this is another area where I still trip up; I either give a response that’s too cool or inappropriate in some other manner. I know, though, part of the reason this occurs is because I misread a cue or because I misread the person’s intentions. My current remedy for this is to live, learn, and get to know the person a bit better.

 

Apart from getting to know people to curb my need to respond inappropriately this skill also teaches me when to listen. It teaches me to listen to the person’s context as well as content. It taught me when to ignore them because they’re waxing poetics or talking (or writing) without substance. I also learned incessant talk also brings with it gossip, and these days I have little time for rumors. I still stumble in these areas, but since I’m aware of my tendencies I can learn from them. I can avoid people who gossip or prattle on about esoteric things. I can avoid most places where that type of conversation occurs. I don’t need to read tabloids or about the latest celebrity breakup since most of that has no bearing on my life.

 

The relevance of one’s words to another person is probably one of the keys of avoiding babbling. I don’t need to waste my time or another person’s time with something that doesn’t interest them. If they find my company overall to be undesirable I can go where I’m welcome. I don’t need to incessantly speak to someone who will most likely never approve of me. I’ll save my words for the time and company for which it’s appropriate.


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Devotional Tuesday: Just Trying Not to Overreact

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

 

“O bringer of your offering who came forth from Sais, I have not been unduly active.” -transl. R.O. Faulkner

 

This is one of the more interesting translations for me. In one translation of this passage I see that it is translated as “I have not been aggressive” with the emphasis on acting like a warrior. I’ve read that priests didn’t always look favorably upon warriors in Ancient Egypt, and when combined with the associations of Nit to Sais probably influence this confession somewhat if this translation is accurate. There are probably a few reasons for it. Serving in the military, just like today, is tough. With that toughness comes aggression which the Egyptians utilized, which came out even after the battle was over and plundering began. I’m sure some will argue about how “all’s fair in love and war”, but the problem comes not when aggression is used in a fight or war but after aggression is no longer necessary. It’s a problem when the aggression is a way of overreacting.

 

Aggression is one which is a big challenge I feel for modern Kemeticists. If one lives in America there’s a massive violent culture. It’s not even about the media with violence, but in everyday interactions. Aggression also doesn’t have to be physically violent, just hostile. I’ve also found when used as a form of overreacting it leads to more problems with even innocuous situations.

 

When I lived in Virgina a simple“excuse me” would result in a glare from the offended party. Asking a fast food establishment about my order (I had waited half an hour and people who ordered after me were served and given their food) resulted in the workers yelling, and one time a worker yelled profanities at me. One woman was even physically threatened for complaining about poor service at a restaurant in the very town where I lived. It honestly bothered me how quick to anger the people seemed to be. What type of life leads to this behavior? Why is this culture so oriented on violence to solve even the smallest issues? I researched some things and came to the conclusion most of what I witnessed stemmed from a culture of honor. The concept revolves around how people take “the law” (it’s not so much actual laws as much as personal codes) into their own hands because the resources aren’t there to enforce laws or law enforcement is unreliable, and people are in survival mode. When factoring in how Prince Edward County was the poorest country in Virginia at the time it explains some of the aggression. Even if it wasn’t trying to gather the most resources the stress from trying to make ends meet is stressful enough.

 

Watching ourselves is important because when we reach that breaking point it can lead to overreaction at mildest. When we overreact more often than not we’re aggressive. With aggression we see the extremes of our behavior and their matching consequences. More often than not I’ve seen people respond to “fight or flight” with the former. Even after the physical wounds heal it leaves an imprint on the mind. People will react to any similar situation sometimes as if the previous incident was happening again. Aggression isn’t just a momentary feeling but cumulative in my experience.

 

The question isn’t why not overreact at this point because the majority of people know the consequences of reaching that breaking point. Self awareness provokes us to find ways to remedy overreacting and aggression. We’re not going to perfect self awareness and not catch certain behaviors. It’s part of being human. That said here are some things which help me from overreacting:

 

Don’t engage. Not every situation requires aggressive action. Not every situation requires a response even. The Maxims of Ptahhotep asserts one shouldn’t argue with superiors nor inferiors. Given the context of why it shouldn’t be done it works out; superiors may have the ability to make one’s life difficult and inferiors were viewed as uneducated during Ptahhotep’s time, so arguing with either looked disfavorable and undermined oneself. I like to look at it with the latter rather than those of lower rank those who are beyond reasoning. Let people acting in an unsavory manner stupefy themselves.

 

Stop and look at the situation. There may be other factors to consider. The other person may have reached their limit and you were in the way. Maybe the people at the fast food places I mentioned were tired and overworked when I asked. Maybe the waitress at the restaurant was on the verge of getting fired and was stressed. That doesn’t make the behavior acceptable, but it does make a situation more approachable. Sometimes when analyzing the situation we’re not as innocent in the dealing of things as well. What seems like gentle teasing may be the last straw for someone.

 

If it’s possible to speak with the person when both you and the other person are calm, do it. However, we also aren’t capable of being reasonable creatures all the time. There’s a solution for that too.

 

Remove yourself from the situation. If possible, just leave the situation. Online this can be a little more complicated because people sometimes like to follow an individual over several sites, threads, et cetera. There are also situations where an individual may follow you, as I’ve seen often in road rage. This is why when people are overreacting and aggressive there are other options.

 

Call the proper authorities. I’ve had to call the police on people who got violent because I knew I couldn’t handle the situation that spiraled out of control. Sometimes calling upon an authority figure isn’t the police but a moderator. Whoever is supposed to be an authority in the situation should be notified if the situation is beyond normal handling.

 

Treat aggression as a last resort. If the person is violent, you can’t get away, and it requires immediate response I feel aggression is reasonable. I’ve used it when I was completely cornered and I was physically harmed. I fought my way out and grabbed a phone to contact authorities. I’ve also used aggression to escape an abduction.

 

When one looks at a situation calmly and not resort to unnecessary knee-jerk reactions some things become clearer and better off. I’ve found walking away from some online communities was better for my peace of mind than constantly bickering with people to “prove a point”. I’ve found some people can’t be bothered with because they let one aspect of their life define them, bet it a positive or negative aspect. I’ve found there’s no helping them, but awareness of these things helped me act accordingly.

 


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Devotional Tuesday: Owning My Work

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

“O Doubly Evil Who came forth from Andjet, I have not disputed my own property.”-transl. R.O Faulkner

I’m going to confess to something for which I’m usually teased. Praise gives me a huge anxiety attack. I know it seems hilarious given that my readers have been a huge inspiration for me, but when I see how something I’ve written impacts others it frightens me. It’s hard to explain how or why without it deviating from the topic, so I won’t discuss those details until a little later.

What got me to focus on this particular confession was an anxiety attack when I found out my blog received some positive attention. In the vast scheme of things it won’t lead to something extraordinary like a literary prize, but that means little to my anxiety-laden mind. What upset me was I positively impacted one person. When I confided in my partner he retorted in exasperation, “Honey, this is exactly what you wanted to do. You can either have a positive impact or hide in obscurity. You can’t have both”. While I would argue about that point I see what he was trying to say. I can’t work at something and not expect results.

For me it ties into this confession based on whom I suspect this confession is addressed. Andjety is a god Who is much like Wesir (Osiris). He deals with growth and regeneration, which given my situation in life is very fitting. I’ll admit my personal life has seen some pretty bleak moments. In fact, everything I held dear and worked hard to get slipped from my fingers in half the time I worked to get what little I gained. It seems for too long my life laid desolate. I’m in a period of renewal and regrowth. In this time it’s integral I take credit for my work and the fruits therein. It’s not an issue of self placating, but reaping the fruits of my labor.

In that sense I need to look at everything I’ve done these past few years and the progress I’ve made. It hasn’t felt like it at times, but anyone who’s grown a plant from seed knows the work in store. At times it feels like senseless toiling. Other times it feels like we didn’t add enough fertilizer, or enough water, or too much of either. Sometimes we do these things and we end up killing the plant or seedling, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we even buried the seed too deep and needs to be uncovered so the seedling can reach the surface. No matter what it is our work.

What I realized during this contemplation was why I feared attention.  There are multiple reasons, but the relevant one to this topic came from my own expectations.  I was afraid I would end up trying to get more than what was due.  It didn’t matter from whom or in what form (even from myself with standards I couldn’t meet), I worried about getting too greedy, about expecting more than what could be delivered.  I see now that while it’s still possible, I don’t have to be greedy about this.  I can own the work that I’m doing and have completed and for now that’s enough.

When I own my work and the products of my life, for better or for worse, it means I can accept responsibility for it more. I can see why it’s important to invest in my work when I own it. I can take charge of my part of my work in that way. It’s led to some contemplation about my current situation and some of the more uplifting directions it’s going. I decided to take more action with my blog because of it.

One of the things I realized when looking at the person’s blog is they didn’t know who the author was. I realized this may not be very clear, or at least not as clear as I had hoped. My “About” tab now has a small bio about myself and my path. It’s a small step, but a step just the same towards owning my work.


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Devotional Tuesday: Turning Away from the Truth

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

“O Youth Who came forth from a Heliopolitan nome, I have not been deaf to words of truth.”

I started writing this post a few months ago after dealing with folks on Yahoo! news. The gist of it was a biased source was cited, I pointed this out, and I was accused of being some sort of basher. Bear in mind this accusation came with foul and inflammatory language followed by how I needed to “mind my language” when I used no such language myself. I wanted to dismiss the whole thing as a troll, being Yahoo! and all, and possibly shame myself for bothering with Yahoo! That incident kept eating at me, though. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I realized after a few strings of other events that it was my frustration with an ongoing issue: ignoring the facts for the sake of a “truth”.

I understand truth is a very subjective concept. In some philosophies truth is seen as how the person observes and perceives their surroundings. Even what is seen as a current truth may change at a later date. It was considered “truth” the world was flat. It was considered “truth” we lived in a geocentric universe. It was considered “truth” there was a call to destroy Ancient Egyptian ruins until the creators of the hoax revealed the truth and the intentions.

So what happens when the truth changes? What happens when we find out we live in a heliocentric system or that something is a hoax? For many the answer is simple: you accept it if there’s strong evidence to support the new view. For that individual his or her truth changes. This applies to religious growth for me. The truth is constantly changing for me as I learn new things. When I learn more about my world I grow into a different person. It’s, for me, a way of becoming something better in the face of truth.

I see a personal reason that this confession is associated with the nome associated with the primordial mound. The act of creation, as I see it, takes action and takes knowledge. This is much like the Wadjet’s alleged purpose to help the pharaoh. When faced with the truth and what isn’t he could discern the best course of action. If one turns away from truth in this matter chaos ensues. What I see on a personal level is one doesn’t grow into a better person.

There’s a case that I encountered with this. There was a man who insisted that women shouldn’t “dress immodestly” if they don’t want to be ogled. I pointed out for large-breasted women this is almost impossible (citing my own experience) and suggested self control as a more viable option. We argued about this where I cited a study supporting my point and pointed out when called upon said violations individuals tend to act aggressively. The conversation degenerated and the man, upon further suggestion he not look at a woman’s breasts, acted aggressively. The irony isn’t lost on me, but that’s not the point. The point is the man took it personally that such violations of social norms are an individual’s responsibility. As a result of not facing one possible truth nothing was gained from either party except resentment. He’s resentful that I implied he lacked self control and I’m resentful that someone scoffed at empirical evidence and personal experience. The incident, however, demonstrates exactly what happens when I see people ignoring a truth.

When we don’t face a truth, when we ignore it for the sake of convenience, I’ve found nothing changes for the better. Instead things stay the same at best or worsen in a more likely scenario. When faced with a new truth it means we have to make a decision, one which changes our beliefs. That’s uncomfortable at times, painful at others, and sometimes the easiest thing to do. Most of it is contingent on the willingness to change and how willing we are to scrutinize new information. I’m not saying one should accept all information wholesale nor without scrutiny. What I am saying is just because the information may be unpleasant or come from an unpleasant source doesn’t negate a strongly supported idea. In the Maxims of Ptahhotep it’s written:

Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge, but

confer with the ignorant man as well as with the learned, for the

limit of skill has not been attained, and there is no crafts-

man who has fully acquired his mastery.

There is no such thing as the penultimate master. There’s always something to learn or at times relearn and from a source to learn it. Sometimes we let bias get in the way of that. Sometimes we believe we have more life experience than others, or our age determines our knowledge, or that our upbringing, or even education, gives us more value in skill or knowledge than others. It’s possible, but that doesn’t grant full expertise. We’re all knowledgeable in some areas and less knowledgeable in others.

If one is to listen to truth, how does one ensure openness to the truth? I don’t have any ultimate answers, but this is what’s worked for me most of the time:

Be aware of personal bias or biases. Tallying personal biases is probably one of the hardest things to do. It means swallowing our pride and admitting to ourselves we aren’t likely as kind or impartial as we hoped. It’s still vital to the learning process, just the same. If we turn a blind eye to our shortcomings we can never grow honestly. Don’t ignore biases which lean in a positive direction either. A bias is still a bias.

Examine why the new information should be rejected or accepted. Is the new information biased? Does it come from a biased source? Is the information dated? Or is the new information coming from a source from which you are biased against or towards? Sometimes we like to hear information which supports our bias or confirm an idea we’ve already formed, regardless if the information is sound.

Consider the changes the new information brings. Sometimes people reject new information not because it’s biased, but because it brings a change. Some people fear change for personal reasons.

Be open to the change the new information brings. If it clears all biases and any reason to reject the change is overcome then accept it and let the change or changes happen.

It’s not an easy task to consider new information and changes. It’s not easy to change based on new information. If one wishes to continuously grow, however, I feel the willingness to accept it needs to happen.