tete

I have been going on about truth and knowledge recently. That brought me to think about how I personally “know” things. Which is very much a mixture of trial and error, trust and experience, tete for short.
The importance and impact of each of the above components shifted over the years. Trust was big as a kid, obviously. I just believed, what grown-ups, my parents, foremost, but also teachers taught me to believe and do, like most everybody else. I was a teenager, maybe fourteen years old, when I found out, that almost everything I learned at home was not “true” to me, any more. Because I experienced things to be different from what I was told, in reality. This one cognisance was maybe the single most important incident in my entire life. Why I will elaborate a little on it. I can’t explain the entire believe system here, I was brought up in, just so much: it is a rather strict, christian sect, called Jehovas Witnesses, which my father was the head of, locally. Thus, we kids were kept among fellow believers as much as possible, as everybody else was considered bad company. Of course, one had to go to school, but we weren’t allowed to befriend non-believers at all. Which we were fine with, there were plenty of kids in the church to be friends with. However, my mom fell seriously ill for a long while, and as the oldest, I was left to look after my two siblings and the household and garden for a long stretch of time. Which was hard, I thought. I missed much time at school that year, as in the mornings I had to get the little ones ready for their schools first and had to be home in time again to have lunch ready for them and my father earlier than my school scedule allowed. Turned out, that my classmates (and their parents) noticed and offered practical help, sending pots of food for me to take home, so I could stay longer. Some even offering to come to our house to help with other chores, like washing or ironing or cleaning. Which of course was not allowed by my father. As none of the people in our church even bothered to offer some help, it occured to me for the first time, that what we were taught in our faith – namely, that Jehovas Witnesses are the “good” ones as opposed to the “wordly men”, who were the ones to stay away from, was simply wrong. Of course I turned to my father to explain and solve this conflict. He tried to give me a muddled, theological explanation, somehow mingling in the fallibility of individuals and how not to question what was written in the scripts. This was the first time, I could and would not agree with him. I just “knew” to be right. Problem was, if he was wrong there, he could be wrong in everything. All of a sudden, my cast-iron view of the world was crumbling away. Of course, how they handled my subsequent teenage rebellion – citating me to private and public committees of elders, trying to force me to change back and repent, public reprimandings in front of the entire congregation, worst of all taking away every office from my father to make me yield, and in the end expelling me from the church, so nobody apart from close family was allowed to speak, let alone have further contact with me, didn’t help their case at all. I thought this to be barbaric. And it was, recalling how I felt, when my “best friend” changed the side of the road when she saw me.
Many other things I believed in became obvious as obnoxious nonsense, but the wired in beliefs of my childhood were steadfast, causing inner conflicts for many years to come. So I was left to trial and error. Having to find a complete new circle of friends, new ways to trust. And a new life. Elsewhere. A process taking me one and a half decades, minimum. And it also took me many an error. However, at least they were my mistakes and I can now say, that I have experience in being wrong, having tried, failed, learned a little and tried again. On hindsight, I have to say, that I am a talent in finding the right friends, without whom I wouldn’t be whole. Maybe not so good in finding the right partner. There the error bits come in (of course only up until I found my sweetheart 🙂 ). Which brings me to today, where I start to rely on the benefits of experience more and more. Which is very comfortable. However, being as self-doubting as I was forced to become, I sometimes fear to neglect the trial bit too much, just to not err again.

9 thoughts on “tete

  1. Wow. This is really moving. Even if I did know quite a bit of it already. You will see that it inspired a long blog entry on my part . . . Simple comments were not enough.

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  2. 🙂 good read, I ‘d never guessed it. Hooray for braving this early phase of your life. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    (I tried to roll an “r” at the word barbaric, but somebody musthave fancied it too much, dragging it off unseen…. draging it by it’s hair!!!! ^^)

    The cogs in the machine are turning, daring me to recall an eqwually fundamental realisation. Guess it was dragged out and cushiony for me – that lying parents bit – since they are and were sarcastic on occasion and say outrageous things ^^ atheists both, as per usual.

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    1. thanks for the “r”, missed that one out completely.
      I just wonder, how it is with atheist parents. Ever looked for something to believe in?

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      1. My mom does this stereotypicall female thing of trying fads as they present themselves or are even an option – moreso since the kids graduated and left their former home, I am uncertain as to how far this is being undertaken as a serious venture or more so – for shits and giggles. At the end of the day – if a placebo helps ease your life in any way – I say go with it. ^^ mineral deposits, dream catchers, homeopathy, astrology, psychology – all are equal in impact and measured degree of efficiency, that a strong zero in my book – as long however as it is not forced on me I try not to belittle it. My father is a practical man, studied physics – his whole world is built on what he learned about the world, can predict and show in verification to be true, so none of that pseudoscience. ^^ They both share an appreciatiion of storytelling, humour – maybe something at times considered devious, dare I say British? Faith was never subject to be taught, instilled, defended or uphold – we had comparable religion classes in school that were given w/o earning a grade on our school report. At times we would talk about it, do you recall your parents derisivly talking about an obvious lie – be they about politics or ppl in focus of attention, an agenda, an entity or way/school of thought? Rolling eyes are very powerful – kids pick up on that stuff.

        She didn’t care much for Gysi, something I always remember whenever posting a clip that may contain some of his speeches to the Bundestag. ^^
        Never looked nor felt an urge to switch off so entirely. My sister befriended a daughter of an evangelist in her early teens, they gave guitar lessons, I doubt she was convinced. ^^

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      2. thanks for this insight into a different world. I like the humorous side of your parents, who otherwise seem to uphold very different views (science vs etheral “sciences”). And raised eyebrows to events and people doubted. On comparison, I think, in my childhood humour was missing all together. Maybe this is the reason, I like the British humour so much (as I know from your blog, we both do), although it is going way over the top often.
        So if I understand you right, religious beliefs were never part of your wiring, then.

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      3. Never part of it, never fundamentally meaningful, never important or in fact valued in any way. There was however an understanding of sorts. Should you care for it or want to explore – have at it. We drove our sister to her guitar lessons without making a fuzz, heard her reports about this other world, had the girl she befriended over many a times when the two of ’em were hanging out or went to and planned to go to the movies.
        At the same time I felt a sense of pity towards all flavours of believers, religions, faiths, it presented itself like a clipped wing, be it to hinder use of airspace, mind, attention, understanding, thinking. I understand that this sentiment sometimes is being held by believers towards nonbelievers… that pity part for their likely end in hell or equivalent thereof. ^^

        Our neighbour was raising geese and ducks, you will have an idea what he did to prevent their escape – when migratory birds were flying overhead one could see their grounded cousins run along for a bit trying, never being able to support their own weigth w/ clipped wings for more than 2 steps. As I grew older I came to learn to what degree people the world over were influenced by it even today. A very disheartening realisation. An infatuation w/ a girl from Bavaria was cured rather unceremoniously when that side of her got a ray of light shown on. I also for the life of it could not bridge the gap encountered by the way of life as presented by her parents, an authoritarian academic who nonetheless was a Catholic, and a demure, submissive housewife who shared the same affliction. 😦

        I think we earlier both put in words our appreciation of this particular stretch of land and its people, that may hold all religion present and accounted but for the most part does not give a flying fuck about it altogether, in as far as, everyone is welcome to their own Chinese fingertrap of choice ^^ – man – having French hugenots over from a while back, granting asylum, sure paid off and I just realised, the name of my secondary school German teacher is of French origin as well. A woman who had an immensly positive impact on my life. 🙂

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      4. this is, what I appreciate about atheists or agnostics most: tolerance. Both groups seem to be very knowledgeable about the topic, yet tolerant toward those not agreeing with their views. Something, religious peolpe mainly aren’t (and how could they, given the inherent structure of religion – monotheistic ones at least).
        And about the Bavarians and Prussians, you’re spot on..

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