Often times, this cruel world wants to push us to be “realists.” Meaning, “it is what it is,” or, “I accept reality at face value,” or, “it’s black and white.” Recently, this term “realism” was used pejoratively against me, meaning, they were saying that “I don’t see reality as it actually is.” They were implying everything from I live in a fantasy world to I don’t confront reality as it actually is due to inherent weakness.
But, as a metaphysician, while I acknowledge that some things in this existence are “fixed” (just think of Bertrand Russell’s “facts”), not everything is so set in stone. So many mediums and avenues provide a nuance and richness to our lives, from subjectivity itself to the flexibility of the world as it appears and as it actually is (noumena versus phenomena, Kantian idealism).
I mention this because, I am not a realist. I am, to be more precise, an “anti-realist,” where I assume that every mode of knowledge we have is simply that: a mode. It doesn’t dictate all that is, or what will be. Even science can never achieve this goal, because science can never be the Archimedean point at which we see all.
So, as a professed anti-realist, what does this mean? It means that when I see suffering, I acknowledge it for what it is, I confront it, I face it … but, with a strain of hope, I seek to improve it, by acknowledging my anti-realist strains, taking into account that reality is fluid, and we can, perhaps by way of existentialist determination, change things. Reality is fluid. We must never take this for granted, for to assume there is only one reality has a name: “naïve realism.”
Indeed, to be an anti-realist, one must acknowledge that the suffering actually exists (you must have some pragmatic bent) and that you may not be able to change the situation, but that you can at least engage with the situation and bring about some fluidity of possibility. As an anti-realist, I am trained to see possibilities, i.e., modality. We must never be sure that we have grasped reality as it is, and I say this not just as a metaphysician, but as a human being. By doing this, it allows us to remain humble to all that exists and all that will be.
I’ve suffered a lot recently. I was just released from the psyche ward and I’ve had difficulties since then adapting and readapting back into society. I’ve experienced some traumatic things lately that, rather than discourage me, have made me stronger (made me new again, like the phoenix). I remain strong and dignified, and determined to push forward.
One way I’ve coped is by eating inexpensive burritos from Taco Villa. Every time I eat those burritos, I think of the burritos I pass out every month with The Legacy Initiative to those experiencing homelessness, humanitarian work that changes lives. It brings comfort to me, because I think about the good we’re accomplishing, I think about the community we’ve forged, I think about the smiles we’ve brought into this gloomy existence, I think about the hunger we’ve curbed, I think about the hope we’ve restored in our lives and in the lives of others, and I think about how reality for me will always be fluid and ultimately unknowable. Indeed, eating those burritos while struggling and suffering has given me hope because it reminds me of the good in the world. I can’t think of a better gift and a better way to inspire a person to keep going.
Sure, much doesn’t go the way we plan, but I will continue to serve others, no matter how hard that is, no matter how much it isn’t appreciated by “realists,” no matter how much I struggle in various domains in my life: I’ve got this. And I’m going to continue to love and to live, and that includes people of all backgrounds.