Living Your Truth

The popular catchphrase this past summer was « Live your truth » among camp staff. Our motto acted as a gentle reminder for counselors and campers to respect one another. I don’t know the origin of this phrase, but goodreads.com cites it as a quote from Steve Maraboli’s book, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience. I have provided the excerpt below:

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.”

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower reminded me of the importance of living one’s own truth and celebrating others’ beliefs. After reading Parable of the Sower and reflecting on recent events at colleges around the United States, I’ve become disheartened by our divided campus community. It is evident that institutional and administrative problems existed before I even came January of 2014, but speaking from my own experience it seems racial and class tensions have escalated during my time at Hamilton.
Parable of the Sower reminded me of the children’s book Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Amazon summarizes the children’s Old Turtle and the Broken Truth (click link for full Amazon summary):

Powerhouse team Douglas Wood and Jon J Muth present a sequel to Old Turtle, the award-winning wisdom tale of peace and love for the earth.

In this profoundly moving fable, the earth & all its creatures are suffering, for the people will not share their Truth, which gives them happiness & power, with those who are different from them. Then one brave Little Girl seeks the wisdom of the ancient Old Turtle, who sees that the people’s Truth is not a whole truth, but broken. Old Turtle shows the girl the missing part of the Truth, & the Little Girl returns with it to her people. Then the pieces are brought together, and the broken Truth is made whole at last: YOU ARE LOVED…AND SO ARE THEY. Then the people & the earth are healed.

As you can see, Butler’s story parallels that of Old Turtle, but with a twist. Her science fiction novel of the speculative dystopian genre offers an even more extreme scenario of chaos set in the United States in the near future. Both stories warn humankind against losing trust in one another. And not to mention, they feature strong women protagonists, who lead others in their mission to repair the world. Ultimately, both tales emphasize the importance and power of empathy to restore characters’ faith in humanity and rehabilitate the environment.
I realize that I’m assuming that everyone’s truth is peaceful, making me sound very PollyAnna in this post. I understand the importance of resistance and sometimes violence in enacting change, however I think it’s okay to remind ourselves every once in awhile of the power of love, empathy, and trust in a community. The Parable of the Sower and Old Turtle and the Broken Truth stress these values are just as necessary for propelling movements forward. While we can cling to our own beliefs, others contribute to the validation of our individual truths. I hope that Hamilton’s campus can become a place to students to feel heard and respected. For once students, faculty, and staff listen to each other’s stories and trust others to change and define their social reality for themselves, our truths and our existences will truly be validated and our community healed.
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