„Human identity is complex. Nothing is ever given simply or immediately. Even the simplest act of perception has many layers. Often at night a dream can take up a gesture or glimpses barely registered during the day and create a whole drama. Time and memory often reveal things later that were staring us in the eye, but we never noticed then.
The quest for the truth of things is never ending. To be human is to be ambivalent. Every experience is open to countless readings and interpretations. We never see a thing completely. In sure anticipation, our eyes have always already altered what awaits our gaze.
The search for truth is difficult and uncomfortable. Because the mystery is too much for us, we opt to settle for the surface of things. Comfort becomes more important than true presence. This is precisely why we need to hear the discerning voice.
Somewhere in every heart there is a discerning voice. This voice distrusts the status quo. It sounds out the falsity in things and encourages dissent from the images things tend to assume. It underlines the secret crevices where the surface has become strained. It advises distance and opens up a new perspective through which the concealed meaning of a situation might emerge. The inner voice makes any complicity uneasy. Its intention is to keep the heart clean and clear.
This voice is an inner whisper not obvious or known to others outside. It receives little attention and is not usually highlighted among a person’s qualities. Yet so much depends on that small voice. The truth of its whisper marks the line between honour and egoism, kindness and chaos. In extreme situations, which have been emptied of all shelter and tenderness, that small voice whispers from somewhere beyond and encourages the heart to hold out for dignity, respect, beauty and love. That whisper brings forgotten nobility into an arena where violence has traduced everything. This faithful voice can illuminate the dark lands of despair. It becomes both the sign and presence of a transcendence that no force or horror can extinguish. Each day in the world, in the prisons, hospitals and killing fields, against all the odds, this still, small voice continues to echo the beauty of the human being. In haunted places this voice carries the light of beauty like a magical lantern to transform desolation, to remind us that regardless of what may be wrenched from us, there is a dignity and hope that we do not have to lose. This voice brings us directly into contact with the inalienable presence of beauty in the soul.
The lone, discerning voice has an effect utterly disproportionate to its singularity. Tempered with the tungsten edge of truth, it can cut through the densest morass of falsity. Asked at the right time, a searching question can make a fortress collapse. Despite all the illusion, deception and cover-up, something at the heart of the world still wishes to remain faithful, and hidden deep in everything is a presence that cannot resist truth. As Plato, Plotinus and Aquinas insisted, the Good and the True are sisters of the Beautiful.
The discerning voice can also show a darker side and turn in on itself to become a voice of self-criticism and make your heart into a place of torment. Harsh and unrelenting, it finds fault with everything. Even when unexpected acknowledgement or recognition comes your way, this voice will claw at you and make you feel you are unworthy. Nothing can ever be good enough. In some people’s lives this self-critical voice is highly developed and has managed to install itself permanently as the primary internal choreographer. This voice can assume complete control in determining how you see yourself and the world. It can make you blind to the beauty in you. “
Shakespeare captures this perfectly in Sonnet 1 (where ‘self-substantial’ means ‘self-consuming’):
„But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.”
„But on the condition that we liberate ourselves from our own interior despots, we are the most poetic beings, the newest, the most virgin in the world.”
– Hélène Cixous