I originally posted this on Nov. 22 2011. I was looking through older posts today and it seemed pretty useful for where I'm at. I hope that it is for you as well.
What a strange concept.
I have always found it interesting when a word seems to be primarily intended to differentiate.
light and dark
warm or cold
right-side-up or upside-down
So back to real. The idea of real presupposes that there exists something that is not real. Something that is in-fact the opposite of real.
Is "real" then interchangeable with the concept of truth? Notice I said that a thing that is not real is fiction, but I didn't say that it was a lie. There are certainly different types of things that are not real, but also not lies. A great work of fiction isn't likely intended to decieve, but perhaps to entertain, educate or edify. There is an important distinction however. It is not a true story.
I won't pretend to be a philisopher. My lack of correct terminology would give that away quickly. What I will say is that it seems that people operate under a certain set of common principles that assume some sort of truth that is real. Naturally, there would also be "rules" that would be extensions of these
Here are a few examples-and while many of us might break these on a regular basis, we'll reserve judgement on that for now.
People are special and life is valuable.
People should care for those that are vulnerable.
People should keep their word.
People should tell the truth.
People should not view themselves as more important than others.
When someone acts in a way that is contrary to these basic ideas, it is generally understood that they are doing something that is not considered "good". In fact, you could say that they are doing something that is wrong.
I've heard a lot of arguments that this isn't the case, that truth is subjective, but I've never seen convincing evidence to back it up. In fact, an individual who isn't following the above guidelines is likely doing so to the detriment of someone else. The argument falls apart for most people around the time they become the "someone else".
I have 3 children ages 8, 6 and 3. Right about now, the idea of selflessness is tough to come by. I have to constantly remind them that people are the one thing that matters most. Not toys, not tv, not food, and not stuff.
People are reality. Hearts, souls, spirits, feelings. I don't doubt that these things are real though I don't have proof that they exist, and by inference, that they matter.
What a weird thing to wrestle with. The one thing that seems to universally make sense to humans (at least the ones I know) is that we should be kind and respectful towards each other, but these qualities only matter if the intangible parts of people I listed above are "real".
Therein lies the idea that I've been handling and trying to conceptualize.
What if the intangible part, the emotions, soul or spirit, are the part that is Real?
What if all of the day-to-day objects and physical life are less Real than the spiritual/emotional things that we each experience?
I want to explore this more because I think it has the potential to really affect what we do with our lives. Logically, it makes most sense to spend our resources- time and energy, on the things that are most important. Giving our best away to a facade, or to clever distractions is tragic.