Plain Truth is my 6th Jodi Picoult book, yet the thoroughness of her research (at least seemingly thorough – I’m not an expert on the Plain people by any means) and the realism of her story continue to amaze me, even though I expect them by now from her.
I bought this book almost thirty months ago because it had the name “Jodi Picoult” on it. I started reading this book a couple of days ago because I was interested in the way the Amish lived – without electricity, keeping to themselves, feeding themselves and living in a simple way. It’s like Sarah Fisher said in the book. “Normal” people show up one day at Amish farms, thinking living Plain is the solution to all their problems. I have no clue whether this is true. But sometimes I do, too, long for the simplicity of life. (But there’s no way I’m becoming Amish because I’m secure in being atheist.) I wonder what it will be like to live and work in a farm, sustaining myself without relying on the world’s heavy and tangled web of market economy. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of growing up, of taking my valid place in the society that I wish all choices were taken off my hands. Maybe, if I worked all day and had no time to question and analyze my values and future plans to death. Unfortunately, there are two problems following this thesis: 1. Given how I am, I’d still continue to think and express doubts about what I am doing is correct. 2. I’d still be no closer to the answer than before.
I’m not going through existential crisis this time, because I already did and left it behind me. Now I’m just constantly trying to squelch the fear that I might not succeed. By succeed I don’t mean becoming a top-notch lawyer like Ellie Hathaway in the novel (I’m still appalled that she got rapists and child molesters acquitted in order to become a successful defense lawyer.). I just want to have a healthy job with reasonably pay and secure future. The rest -being happy, spiritually grounded and morally healthy- I can take on or, at least it requires hard work from me but with input there is output. I’m just worried that I think too highly of myself because people praise me based on my grades. In a society where having good grades implies that you are smarter and somehow “better” than your fellow students, I fear of being overcome with Hochmut. Being able to boast knowledge about atomic physics does not give you the right to look down on people who don’t know about what you consider basic knowledge. People -especially the Korean adults (maybe other Asian societies, too)- consider your value as a person heavily based on your academic accomplishments. But some people just aren’t meant to be academics and analyze ancient texts, pore over books and write long papers using fancy words. Their strength lies elsewhere, and who says we have the right to put mental labor above physical one?
Indirectly, the book Plain Truth helped me realize this because the Fisher family and also Samuel Stoltzfus taught me what being humble truly means, and it has nothing to do with denying your accomplishments and everything to do with not placing yourself mentally on a higher level due to the said accomplishments. Wikipedia defines humility as selflessness, as egolessness. I call it equality.