Larsen Cuthrall believes that any information about themself/herself/himself will change how to reader views the writing. Age, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Country of Origin, SES, and Preference for Smooth/Crunchy Peanut Butter all color how we understand and value each other. This is Larsen’s first published work.
Truism: A practical religion for the modern age
Why do we need a new religion?
There are many religions in the world and most people follow one or another because they were indoctrinated from a young age by their family and the tentacles of community and culture and country and other C words to believe a great many things which have no basis in reality. These falsehoods are taken to be unshakable truths about the world and distorted to justify unthinkable acts of violence, oppression, and prejudice. Whenever any organization gets big enough it will include people who don’t understand the point of the organization, and then misconstrue its beliefs or misinterpret its texts, thus tainting the purity of the organization. Look no further than the constitution of any nation.
Furthermore, membership in existing religions is decreasing, the space being filled with the implications of non-religious systems, such as capitalism. While as much an opiate of the masses as religion, people can no more eat a dream of one day improbably becoming rich as they can sustain themselves off belief in an omniscient and non-existent being. Both systems seem to have a powerful persuasive ability to make people believe that they are better than others, are more deserving of the fruits of life and afterlife. These rising non-religious influences do not bring out the good in human beings, and instead nudge people to look out for themselves, coalesce into warring tribes, and be greedy, only to find themselves empty when they die, and blind to their own emptiness.
Why not atheism, you say? There is no God and are no Gods and Science is the best approximation of truth that we have. Fair points. Yet atheism has set itself up as anti-religious, and has also been tainted by the amoral actions and beliefs of its leaders. Furthermore, there is a hollowness to movements that set themselves up as contrary to some other idea. Just like children, people need to be taught more than what they should not do. People need to know what they should do instead.
Thus far in history, organized religion has been about as helpful to humanity as parking meters. There has been some good, some bad, emanating from each religion, but all have been coerced for evil, at one time or another. Murder, genital mutilation, genocide, child molestation, suicide – you name it. With so many years and unchanging principles, this fact is as inevitable as death. Religions that seek to have its followers adhere to a way of life grounded in a particular time period inevitably lose relevance over the centuries, as people try to hold mutually exclusive ways of being.
Finally, the teaching of morals and guidance about how to live your life through stories leaves much space for misinterpretation. The idea that one should make all of their life decisions by reading a book and trying to divine what some men (only men!) from hundreds and thousands of years ago thought was right is ridiculous on its own. But to lay out stories, and ones that are not supposed to be taken literally, as the basis of all that is right, and expect that a good lifestyle could be employed with any consistency. Blind faith. So, rest assured, Truism will be explicit, and this book won’t tell you to sacrifice your son or kill your brother to make a point.
Truism, as a word, has an existing meaning, which is “obvious truths”. Truism, as a religion, will also exist as a list of obvious truths. These are the things which all children know but have forgotten as adults, and need reminding of in order to not kill each other or at the very least, not make each other miserable.
In a fitting irony, this seminal text of Truism will also contain falsehoods, putting it on par with all existing religions which are full of contradictions, created by flawed people, for flawed people. That we do not know all the truths of the world is itself a truism. To the extent possible, contractions will be noted so that critics will have less work to do. Life is too complex to fit all of the pieces together of how to live a good life without inconsistencies. It is hard to know the right thing to do all the time. You will make mistakes and it is ok.
Truism, as it strives to be truthful, has no space for a God or Gods. Deities do not exist. Some will say that this makes Truism not a religion. On the contrary, Truism believes that the creation of a world where people treat each other as equals, where suffering is limited to an extent unimaginable today, where people are connected and care for each other, and so on, is possible. This, Truism contends, requires more Faith then believing in God, especially the longer one lives and the more one is actually exposed to the realities of the world.
Similarly, there is no afterlife. When you die, you are gone forever, never to return. You must make the most of the time you have here.
In the end, we have no idea how we got here or why we are alive at all. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Or, maybe, they are trying to make you more comfortable with the uncomfortable reality that we are born, live, and die, with no greater purpose.
In the beginning, Science tells us, there was nothing but hyperdense objects floating around in a vacuum. We don’t know this to be true either. We’re guessing. We don’t know anything to be true, really. These hyperdense objects had no free will, were governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set off a chain of events over billions of years that led to today. No one wants to believe that we were created by luck, and our life outcomes are determined by luck and physics and chemistry and biology, and have no meaning outside of the one we make for ourselves. It’s a cruel truth that will go on forever, the universe always expanding, entropy always increasing. With more and more uncertainty, less and less will make sense, outpacing our ability to understand ourselves. Living in this uncertainty, bearing it, due to the great gift and great weight of consciousness, is the privilege and burden of humanity.
Many explanations for knowing what is true have been proposed. Common sense seems reasonable, but is too often wrong. It has been common sense at various times to pull out someone’s eye if they harm you, to treat women and Black people as property, and to inhale smoke into our bodies until we die. Opinions often have little basis in fact, and are too easily changed by lies and not easily changed enough by truisms. Logic can be rationalized from opinions, are just opinions wrapped up in fancy language and ramblings.
Science, while not without its flaws, is the closest we can get to knowing if things are true. Science is slow, is constantly being revised (a pre-requisite for good Science), is subject to methodological errors, and is created by people who don’t get laid enough (except Einstein, who was a notorious slut). Slow, inching progress towards more knowledge and understanding is a force against the slow, inching progress of the universe towards more chaos and complexity. The Old Religions have this going for them; It was a simpler time.
Truism has always existed in the minds of humans, so this book represents an organized and replicable version of those thought patterns which have previously not been outlined in text, because people were too focused on not dying. The following sections describe those thoughts, beliefs, in order of importance (at the start, until a hierarchical positioning makes little difference), which are the basis for living a decent life.
Do No Harm
It should be obvious, but the history of humanity is a history of wars, raping, stealing, enslaving, killing, and sticking wet fingers in other people’s ears. It is a sticky evolutionary trait that we are always hoping to get a leg up on our fellow human by putting them down, so that our genetic code may have a slightly better probability of lasting to the next generation, and on and on. Darwin tells us that this is the right way to improve our species, but this is only true if we seek a species of highly successful people who don’t care about their fellow humans. (Contradiction: Truism supports Science but is skeptical about the long-term implications for Darwin’s theories in humans and, eventually, AIs or AI-human hybrids.)
In any case, violence of any kind is unequivocally unjustified among Truists. The ends do not justify the means. The means are the end, and will be rationalized as the means for any end deemed important enough by the aggressor. Truists do not hit, kick, yell, spit on, sexually assault, demean, or kill. They don’t even stick their wet fingers in other people’s ears. Harm in is not limited to the physical. Emotional abuse is similarly unacceptable, though harder to define. Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and exposing children to violence are core evils, as they change children’s brains forever, lead to increased stress, less positive interactions among humans, and earlier death. There is no place in [beautiful non-existent afterlife world here] for those who hurt children, their own or others.
Unlike the other religions of the world, Truism does not seek to spread its teachings if this spread cannot be done peacefully. While we believe the message is important, the ends do not justify the means. This principle may ironically render Truism an ineffective religion, which certainly reflects poorly on the nature of humankind, if goals cannot be achieved without violence and aggression.
This peaceful stance, however, shall not be taken as a pass to be complacent or agreeable in the face of tyranny, hatred, and oppression. Achieving the society that Truists hope one day to exist will require sustained resistance against existing power structures, which serve a small number of people quite well, and a great many people very poorly. It is our contention that these goals, while perhaps more difficult in the short term, can be achieved through non-violent methods, and in fact must be done in the matter. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we have little control over the path our minds and actions take, and much less still over the minds and actions of billions. Without fidelity to non-violence, any achievement of our goals and principles in society would be counterfeit. Let there be no mistake. Truism shall not be used to justify violence of any kind.
There is no God
There is no evidence that a supernatural, omniscient being or assortment of beings, exists. People have changed their behavior for the better and for the worse based on what they thought God wanted them to do, so the idea has had a neutral effect on the lives of humans (if feeling defensive, see Children’s Crusade). People seem to spend much time praying to God, asking him to fix their lives, in lieu of taking actions to fix their lives themselves, and then thanking God profusely when they achieve some success, whether through their own hard work or through, more often, dumb luck.
With no one coming to save you or smite you, it should be clear that life is what you make of it. If you want something to happen, you must figure out how to make it yourself. This is not to say that you must think of achievements in this manner. Truism contends that it is not your fault at all if your life doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. The best solution might be to just accept life as it comes, recognizing that so much of what happens to us is out of our control, is in no one’s control.
Anything worth creating is impossible to make without others, so whatever vacuum believers of other religions might expect to exist in Truism with its lack of God, must be found in relationships with other humans. Having relationships with others turns out to be easy, if you treat them with respect and try to understand them and acknowledge that you can’t possibly know what it is like to be them, with their brains and bodies and experiences so different from your own. Having relationships is also hard, because our brains get stuck in our own perspective or focused on our own self-interest so often that we think the world would just be best if everyone acted like us and wasn’t so stupid. You have to do the best you can not to hurt anyone, to make the lives of the people you interact with better, and to not punish yourself (or others) for not being perfect.
Doing all this consistently is harder and more fulfilling than blindly believing in a God.
There is no Afterlife
As there is no God, there is also no afterlife. When you die, you can do whatever you want with your body. Truism suggests that you consider your own wishes along with the people who will outlive you, and the environment, when deciding how to dispose of the unreliable fleshy vessel you have inhabited while alive. Burnt or buried, there is no escaping death and its finality. Whatever you were is gone forever. You might as well be an organ donor.
Many people will think this is horrible. Maybe many of those people find comfort in the thought of being reincarnated, perhaps as a gentler and blissfully ignorant creature than a human, or at least floating forever in some cloudy paradise with all of the other dead people, or at least the ones who followed all the rules. Truists can understand these sentiments, and in fact, acknowledge that it would be nicer to live on forever in a better world after we are dead. However, the fact remains that such a world does not exist, and we maintain that it is best to see things as they are, even if we don’t like what we see.
Seeing that your one life, often shorter, or, if you’re lucky, longer than you want it to be, as all that each of us is granted, it makes sense to make it a good one (keep reading to find out what “good” means).
Promote Radical Equality
It is a central belief or Truism that all humans are exactly equal to one another. Each individual has an inherent value. Each person, regardless of race, gender, wealth, intelligence, sexual orientation, age, beliefs, behavior, height, weight, shoe size, talents, failures, hand eye coordination, cooking ability, health, nationality, connections, social status, political affiliations, reading level, and favorite ice cream flavor, and on and on, is worth the same. The reason for this belief is that every good outcome and every bad outcome that has ever happened, is happening right now, or will happen in the future, is the result of luck. Any success can be traced back to actions out of your control. Any failure, the result of unforeseen forces beyond your power. The leader of a country is only the leader by chance of genetics and family context and education and power and historical events and cultural shifts and because their brain said, “Do this!” and then “Do that!” until they were put in charge. A person in an inpatient psychiatric facility or a prison is only there because of those same forces, out of the person’s control, working their ways; their brain telling them what they should do next and what to think about it and how to feel about it.
When confronted with this idea, people generally react negatively, which is how you know it is something worth considering, since it seems potentially true enough to threaten all that people believe about themselves and the world. People like to believe that they are in control, that they are active agents in shaping their future, that the terrible situation they are in is able to be turned around with some hard work and grit and opportunity, or that the achievements they’ve obtained are the result of their competence, wit, and perseverance. But where do those qualities come from? Do our genes and early childhood experiences not conspire to make us hard working or lazy, without our input? Does luck of our birth families, race, gender, wealth and educational opportunities not largely determine the shape of our life stories? Even the qualities we come to believe about ourselves are not distinct, were given by others, inserted into our brains, which control all of our behavior for our whole lives and which we can’t even begin to understand with any detail.
If you’re reading this book, it is more than likely that you have had an above average quality of life. You’ve learned how to read, which our brains are not designed to do, and you have enough free time or money to learn about a new way to live which you are almost certainly dismissing as unrealistic. As such a person, there is bad news. You will have to give something up in order to reach Truism’s goal of equality. You will have to give up more time, reflecting and learning from others who are different from yourself, what it is like to not have the privileges and luck that you have had. You will have to challenge yourself when your brain tells you to feel angry or disgusted or even condescending pity towards those with worse luck. And you will have to give up your money. How on earth religions thus far have not had a greater influence on the vast economic inequality that its followers seem to be comfortable with in their societies is beyond the followers of Truism. No Gucci bag is worth a thousand meals in hungry children’s mouths, but we tolerate much worse every day. Hell, we let kids die so we can get drunk and forget our meager problems without a thought.
In the future, or the present, or the past, depending on how long Truism lasts and if this section is kept on future editions (allowed!), humans will discover that animals have much more sophisticated brains than previously thought. As living creatures, all sorts of species will be elevated in value, and the way of treating animals in the past will be viewed abhorrently. Veganism will flourish. While obviously needed, these changes to our relationship with animals must not be prioritized over the oppression, shaming, and dehumanization of any human (it seems) who is not a rich, heterosexual, able-bodied, intelligent, attractive, Christian, White man. Truists, in this line of thinking, find themselves quite ostracized from the world, by not swooning over powerful, successful beings of great fortune and little substance. Truth is a lonely island.
Free Will and Destiny are Both Illusions
Free will, the ability to make choices and meaningfully adjust the course of our lives, is an illusion. There is both sadness and comfort in this. Nothing you’ve achieved has been on account of your personal, individual quality or intelligence or goodness as a human being. None of your failures or mistakes are your fault. We are born with a set of genes, a range of possibilities, which narrow rapidly over time, mostly in our infancy when we are helpless beings reliant on others to survive. Those caregivers, nurturing or neglectful or actively abusive, further shape our brains, solidifying our identity. By the time we are five, still lacking in true agency, we have a reasonable stable temperament, intellect, personality even.
Do not let this bother you too much or you will drive yourself crazy. Do not let yourself feel powerless. The world is always changing, but it never changes from the actions of one person. Even a single person’s actions are influenced and created by the countless others they have interacted with before they developed metacognition. Change happens when many, many people take a bunch of small actions, one after another, over a long period of time. Even then, it takes timing and political will and social contagion and luck. Lots of luck.
Destiny, similarly, is an illusion. There is no set course for your life, despite your limited agency. Outcomes are based on complex probabilities, compounding and interacting with each other over time. Suffer a freak car accident and your life expectancy goes down a tick. Be born White and it goes up. On and on, every event within the cells of your body and the actions your brain makes you take slightly adjusting the chances of uncountable future events.
With these two seemingly conflicting but integrated truths in mind, the solution is to live in the moment. Experience the full range of thoughts, emotions, and sensations in yourself and others. Be open to what life will bring you. It may bring you suffering, which is inevitable, and may hold you in suffering until you die, but always with moments of reprieve. It may bring you happiness, but always sprinkled with moments of despair. There is no way of knowing what will become of you; it is uncertain and there is nothing to be done about that. Reflect. Learn about yourself. Learn about your fellow humans. And live in the present.
Empathy, Genuineness, and Unconditional Positive Regard
In a rare moment of pop culture, this book will describe a historical figure. In the 1960s, a psychologist named Carl Rogers developed three conditions necessary for effective therapy. Therapy is a method of healing other humans of emotional pain while profiting from them. Well-trained therapists are actually quite effective at healing emotional pain with nothing but their own personhood and knowledge, whereas doctors have treated physical pain with stronger and stronger medications with mixed results, but have been tremendously more successful at profiting. Anyway, Carl found these three conditions after having a mental breakdown, where he was given therapy and medication to help himself function again. Through his research, he found the three conditions to be:
Genuineness (or Authenticity)
Unconditional Positive Regard
Truists accept and incorporate science into their principles of beliefs. It is the contention of Truists, as both a matter of science and faith, that the discovery and framing of these three conditions for alleviating human suffering are the greatest scientific achievement of the modern age (to be updated with future advances and definitions of modernity).
Empathy is the practice of doing your best to understand another person’s experience even though you cannot possibly do so.
Authenticity is behaving honestly and openly in your interactions with other people, while couching criticisms or negative actions in empathic understanding of their perspective. Authenticity does not mean saying or doing everything that pops into your head. Authenticity means being yourself (if you know who that is). The more you practice being genuine, the easier it is to find out who you are.
Unconditional Positive Regard means loving all other humans, regardless of how mean or terrible or wrong you think they are. People are good. People are doing the best that they can with the resources at their disposal. If people are not doing well, are hurting themselves or others, it is not because they are bad, it is because they don’t have the skills or the love or the understanding or the money or the experience they need to behave otherwise. We have to remind ourselves of this constantly. Other religions imply that a necessary ingredient in religion, faith, is to believe in something challenging, supernatural. Try honestly believing that everyone you interact with, see in the news, yourself even, is inherently good and should be loved unconditionally, for just one day. Tell us if you think that is easier than believing in God or an afterlife. We don’t have to invent anything extra. Seeing people, all people, as worthwhile, valuable beings deserving of love and understanding is the kind of good challenge around which life can having meaning.
Openness to Experience
Truists believe that many of their beliefs are wrong, that this is an essential part of being human, and that reflecting on one’s inaccurate thoughts through the experience of learning and interacting with others is critical. Openness to Experience means that other people have lived vastly different lives from you, and that you can learn about them and the world by listening and being willing to change your mind. People are wrong much of the time. No one likes being wrong, but the more you get comfortable with the idea, which is true, that you cannot possibly be right all the time, the more comfortable you will be learning from others.
“Being right,” actually, is not as important as being kind and not doing harm and understanding others through empathy, but it is important to have an accurate understanding of yourself and the world. Everyone seems to think it matters more than anything to be right, when usually the things that matter most, like sitting with people who are in unthinkable pain or helping someone die comfortably, are the hardest things to do. In this way, admitting when you are wrong is much harder than being right, and matters more, not least of all because it shows others that it is ok to be wrong, and opens the door for them to admit faults and errors without guilt.
Being open to experience also means that we don’t ever stop being open to change. As time shifts and we grow older, the world changes, and we should adapt to those changes. The future may hold a world in which people of all sorts of differences, sex, gender, race, nationality, politics, thoughts, religions, intelligence, education, money, power, occupation, and so on, are accepted without question as equals, such that to even ask the question would be considered abhorrent. We Truists certainly hope we’ll get there one day, though are skeptical and realistic, considering the history of humanity so far. Again, this is faith, and, we contend, harder and more important than believing in a bearded old White man in the sky. (We also contend that being old, White, or a man confers no wisdom and should confer no status.) In any case, when that world gets here, or at least we move closer to it, Truists will not be the ones clinging to tradition or days past. Truists learn and adapt and in fact, fight for, a better future. This means we must get comfortable with change, demand it, in a direction that improves equality, does no harm, and increases well-being among humanity.
This openness also means that life is what you make of it. There being no afterlife, it is in fact true that #yolo (to be updated with more current vernacular in future editions). There can be no concrete rules by which Truism demands its constituents live their lives. All of the beliefs presented here are aspirational, necessarily so, because they are so hard to achieve. People seem to be want to be told how to behave by religions, even if they can’t live up to those rules. In this regard, Truism is no exception, though practitioners and potential Truists will find the “rules” much less restrictive than other religions, and much harder to follow. We won’t make you come to any specific building on Sundays, but you will have to practice non-violence and empathy and genuineness and unconditional positive regard, every day, in every interaction with your family, friends, lovers, acquaintances, and enemies. This is a big ask.
Adaptation to Modernity
While keeping its core values intact, Truism must necessarily change over time. Religions that are static, seek to a restore an old way of living with rigidity, and fail to acknowledge new truths as they are revealed, are doomed to fail. We contend that it is hard enough to live a life grounded in fact, without hurting others, and interacting with understanding and empathy with our fellow humans. Longing for days gone by and resisting inevitable advances in technology, science, or society is a bridge too far, and leaves us unable to see the world as it really is.
The primary driver of change will be Science. As we learn more and more about how humans function, the world around us and within us, truths that seem unthinkable now will be discovered and deemed obvious facts. We do not know what these truths will be or what changes they will bring.
This book, likewise, must be edited and revised regularly, as we come to new understandings. Sections that no longer apply should be crossed out. Sections that are needed to better foster equality and non-violence and understanding among people will be added. These updates will no doubt be argued among Truists, and a democratic process (to be replaced with more effective and equitable forms of organization, once discovered) is recommended to make changes.
A caveat: Core principles, such as those listed above this section, shall not be changed. We cannot imagine a world in which violence is acceptable, in which free will, God, destiny, or afterlife are realities, or where it would be a bad idea to treat others us equals, to understand them, and to see the best in them. People will be good to each other and society will thrive if the conditions are ripe. These core principles will serve humankind well in any future (Contradiction: Truism must change and Truism must remain the same).
Contradictions are also an inherent part of life. It is a great challenge for people to hold complexity in mind. People can be heroes in one context and villains in another. Comedy can be found in even the most depressing times. Banned books become more popular. (We expect and hope that Truism will be banned, especially given our nefarious plot to corrupt the children.) Events that saturate our daily lives become intolerable to think about. You are perfect just the way that you are, and you can always, should always, strive to be better.
Compatibility with Other Religions
Truism, despite its critiques, is compatible with all existing religions. Each religion holds some truth for some people, otherwise it would not exist. The world is full of these varying truths, sometimes intersecting, sometimes conflicting, but largely able to be reconciled with each other. Many people are happy with the religions they have, are buoyed up by the communities they create, find themselves sustained by traditions and rituals. There is no reason to abandon any of these traditions or “convert” to Truism. Simply integrate the core principles of Truism into your life.
If you choose, you can have “dual citizenship”. The only requirement of this dual citizenship status of holding Truism and another belief system as your guiding principles for living is that you not betray to core ideals of Truism. Do not harm. Promote equality. Seek to understand another’s perspective. Hold your fellow humans in high regard, as miraculous and fragile and ordinary and powerful creatures deserving of your attention and love. There is nothing radical about these beliefs. If these simple practices of kindness are contradictory to your religious practice, it is worth considering why.
As should be clear by this point, Truists are not religious scholars. In another contradiction, Truists, who organized this religion, have this to say about organized religion:
Organized religion has been about as helpful to humankind as parking meters.
In not being religious scholars, at least in this first edition, we apologize for our ignorance and misunderstanding of the world’s religions, and hope you will take this apology as sincere. In good faith. In part, this lack of religious scholarship is inherent, since we spend most of our time interacting with our fellow humans, and are not much interested in what happens to us once we die. We just want to have a good time while we’re here, at no expense to others, and to help others have a good time too. This simplicity, again, is harder to maintain than it seems. But you shouldn’t need a doctorate in theology to live a happy life, a good life, and to leave the lives that you touch better off, or at the very least, not worse.
Death is Simple
In contrast to the complexity of life that we try to make simpler and simpler, death, on the other hand, is quite simple. When you die, slowly or suddenly, in youth or old age, your life is over, and you will never exist again.
Life is precious. It is beautiful and painful and full of joy and suffering. Death is a part of life, is the end of it.
People do not like this. It makes people uncomfortable to think of death, to witness it, to fear it, to roll the idea of it around in their heads like marbles in a bag. People invented things like religion because they were afraid of death and wanted to make it feel more palatable. An emotional crutch of sorts. When you die, if you lived well, you’ll go to a universe were things are better.
There is no evidence that such a place exists, much as we’d like it to. It does not matter if you burn the body or bury it or never find it, death is the end of a person. One day, perhaps, we will be able to preserve people’s brains and bodies, rebirth them, conserve their consciousness, their identities, and the meaning of life will change with its lack of clear ending. Finiteness is what makes life so special and valuable. Without death, life is meaningless.
A fact being uncomfortable does not make it a fact. You cannot change the truth by looking away from it, by believing something else, by soothing yourself with distractions or falsehoods. The point of this religion is not, like others, to make you feel better, or to tell you how to live or die. The point of Truism is to see clearly, the facts of life, and death, and suggest that seeing them clearly will serve you well, in spite of the pain it may cause.
12 Rules to Live By (Sponsored by Buzzfeed)
Introduction and Purpose of Rules
We know, we said that we wouldn’t tell you how to live, outside of the core principles, which are aspirational, because so far no one has been able to stay non-violent and empathetic and open to experience throughout their lives. If you feel, as we do, that just living by those core principles is hard enough, a big ask, then we encourage you to stop reading here and do your best and enjoy life. Many people want more guidance than that. If you are seeking religion because you don’t know what to do and the principles outlined so far seem too vague and hard to translate in practice, then this section is for you.
These rules, guidelines, whatever you want to call them, are optional. By being optional, they present the illusion of choice. You can choose to read them or not. If read, you can choose to follow them or not. You have no choice. You may already know if you are the type of person who will read them, the type of person who takes advice from a book or doesn’t. Either way, it’s already been decided whether you will read on or not, and if you will take the words you read and apply them to your life (or not).
If this section seems appealing to you, you must not eat meat on Fridays. If you don’t like the sound of that, eat whatever you want. Again, if you don’t like rules or believe that you might know yourself better than a book or a non-existent omnipotent being, feel free to skip this whole section, which is essentially the rest of the book. You’re done!
“Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days.” – Hannah Montana
It is impossible to go through life, even a day, an hour, without making mistakes. Just as we are too hard on other people, humans are incredibly good at being hard on ourselves. This is an evolutionary trait with a good purpose. It is good to try and improve ourselves. It is also good to recognize that we are inherently flawed and accept ourselves for the things we do right. So, do not worry if you make mistakes. It is difficult to consistently live up to even basic expectations, as you will no doubt find if you try to genuinely embody the core principles of Truism. As you work towards your own well-being and the well-being of others, forgive yourself for the errors you will inevitably make along the way. Likewise, forgive others when they mess up as well.
Eat whatever you want. Seriously. Truism places no hard rules on when to eat fish or not to eat cows or meat or mixing things with cheese or yeast or all the other requirements found in other religions. If you have enough food, be grateful, and give your surplus to someone who doesn’t have enough food. If we weren’t so greedy, there would be no hunger.
Drinking and Drugs
Enjoy brain-altering substances in moderation. Recognize when they become unhealthy and damage your relationships. If someone you love is worried about you, it’s time to consider what you’re doing. Remember: being empathic and non-violent and caring is hard enough with a clear head.
Swearing is allowed.
Have consensual sex with whoever you want as often as possible.
You must take care of yourself. Happiness is the goal and meaning of life. Not just your own, but everyone around you as well, in little concentric circles that start small and extend to every human, alive and to live in the future. The dead ones are dead forever. Remember them and learn from them, but know that you cannot affect their happiness.
What do happy people do differently than unhappy people? Nothing. Nothing! They do the same things. They go to school or work, they hate their jobs some days, they find partners and love them and argue with them, they eat or drink too much, or not enough, their bodies hurt and break down, they feel wretched one day and just ok the next. The only difference between happy people and sad ones is that happy people notice all of the little, small gifts that their life presents and think – wow, look at that!
Look! Terrible things happen to happy people, and they think – This is terrible, but it will get better.
Give your time and money. Accept that suffering exists in your community and others around the world and do your best to alleviate it. Suffering comes in many forms.
Invest in Children
Teach children, yours and others, to understand themselves, to be kind, to seek truth, to be unselfish, to learn from their inevitable mistakes, to abandon hate and to love fiercely. Do this by trying to understand their little worlds and their big ideas. Remember that children, before they are molded into conformists, have original ideas and put them out into the world without fear of judgment. Before you try to instill your beliefs in them, sit beside them and find out what they see. Children have just as much to teach us as we have to teach them.
Unneeded. Every day is as worthwhile as the last. Holy days are a social construction with no meaning. Sitting and listening to someone talk, praying to a non-existent deity together, singing, does not inherently make life better. Plus, the diversity of our lives makes a special day or rituals impractical.
Let your ritual be the quality of your interactions with your fellow humans.
Truists do not join political parties. Political parties change in their policies so often, it is impossible to keep track of their platforms. Truists instead seek to advance specific policies that are aligned with their beliefs, such as non-violence, empathy, and equality.
Political participation is encouraged, in order to support government policies that bring the beliefs of Truism closer to reality.
Anticipated Criticisms and Rebuttals
Not a Religion
Call it whatever you want. We won’t be offended if we aren’t included in your club.
No “Faith” or Belief
Belief in yourself and the future is hard enough. It is an act of faith to believe in the possibility of a kinder, more equitable, and better world, a world that you will not see in your lifetime because the goalposts are always moving. There is always new progress to be made that was invisible to the generations before us. This progress is not certain, but unsteady. It is gradual but fleeting. You should doubt that this better future is coming, it is only reasonable to do so. Working towards something in spite of those doubts is Faith.
Give it time.
No Meetings or Gatherings
In the age of the internet, there is no need for gatherings to spead ideas. Truism has too few ideas to require meetings. These few ideas are simple and hard to get right. Use the time you would spend meeting other Truists with someone you love or don’t understand (or both).
Book is Too Short
Other religious books are too long! Who has time to read all of that over and over again and to live a full life? Humans cannot remember hundreds of pages of text well enough for it to inform our everyday interactions. We can, on average, remember 7 pieces of information. If that’s all we’ve got, even this “book” is too long.
Do no harm. There is no God. There is no afterlife. Everyone is your equal. Be kind. Be honest. Be willing to change.