Bob Van Oosterhout

Excerpt from book "What is True"
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What is True?   
Bob Van Oosterhout, MA, LLP, LMSW

One of the greatest enemy of truth is certainty.  Anyone who claims to be absolutely certain of anything is more likely to be profoundly ignorant.  Certainty stops learning.  Life is a process of learning and adapting.  Certainty brings a premature death to our natural curiosity and desire to understand our world and each other.  

Fake news, lies, and political manipulation are all presented with a high degree of certainty.  Their purpose is to stop us from understanding what is really going on.

We have been taught to be uncomfortable with uncertainty.  In order to pass the First Grade and every other grade after that, we had to know THE ANSWERS.  Teachers ask questions to help us remember THE ANSWERS and to test whether or not we have them RIGHT OR WRONG.

An answer is “a thing said, written, or done” - past tense, history.  We see answers as a fixed response - THE answer is either right or wrong, true or false.  We’ve been taught to think of “right” and “true.” as correct responses to narrow questions with only one right answer.

The problem is that most of the questions we face in real life are not narrow.  Most of our problems don’t have one RIGHT answer.  There are layers of interconnected issues and concerns that affect not only what is happening but how we see and interpret it.  Our response can have far-reaching implications based on things we do not know or understand at the moment. 
 
We spend billions of dollars cleaning up the effects of actions that seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.  Some of these mistakes have cost a lot of people to lose their lives and countless others to lose any hope of maintaining their health or reaching their potential.  

The solution to this problem may actually be quite simple.  Ask questions.  Learn to ask questions that help us see the larger picture and relevant details more clearly.  Ask questions that expose what we don’t know.

This requires some humility.  Humility requires balance and letting go of Fear-Based Thinking.

We don’t ask questions when we are in a hurry or under pressure.  We don’t think about the larger picture when we are exhausted, burned out or stressed out.  There is no room for questions when tension is building and deadlines are looming.  

We don’t ask questions when our focus is fixed on threats, real or imagined.  Everything not essential for survival shuts down when we are in the grips of fear as all our energy is shifted to feed some version of fight/flight or freeze.  No room for questions there.

Questions that lead to effective, lasting solutions require a body that is relatively relaxed, a mind that is relatively open, and emotions that are relatively clear.  We are more likely to think of the best questions when we are more relaxed, open, and clear.  These questions lead us to see things in a new way, to understand more deeply and to realize there is much left to learn.

A glance at the title of this book may have given you the impression that I was going to tell you what is true.  If that’s the case, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  The title is a question for you. 
 
I’m writing this to provide a framework for you to ask questions that lead to an ongoing exploration of what is true, meaningful and relevant to your life and in the world we share.  My plan is to regularly update it and revisions will be made available on the website www.bringtruthtofear.org.