Aletheia and Myth

Finally, beloved, whatever is true…and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(St. Paul)

Have you ever had the experience of looking at a total stranger and for what ever reason, without there being any outward signs of difficulty or distress in the person, your heart goes out to him. Maybe it was a look, a mannerism, an almost imperceptible moment of awkwardness. Whatever it was, you experienced a connection with him just beneath consciousness.

And perhaps with it, a memory flooded back about the first time you discovered there were other people in the world besides you. And they were real. Real as you. They had hopes and fears and desires and appetites…just like you. And you really hadn’t noticed how concrete that was before and you were almost overwhelmed by it all. And it made you wonder; and it changed the way you thought about yourself and about your place in the world.

Whatever you do, hang on to those signs of humanity. Trust the truth in them. They are real and ultimately the difference between a full-life and a life of sleep-walking, a compassionate life and a preoccupied life. It’s so easy–as a matter of fact it’s our default position–to live within the myth that our desires are uniquely ours.

Aletheia is the Greek word for truth. It comes from the root letho, which is the verb “to forget”. The prefix a is the negative. So the literal meaning of the Greek word for truth, aletheia, is “to stop forgetting”. Aletheia is the etymological opposite of myth. Something to remember.

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