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011 Letter 9

Know that I am Renent, and I write to you on behalf of my brothers and sisters at Kireca. We send greetings, for we understand that you wish to know more of us. We are always excited to introduce ourselves to others, for we humbly believe that we have a truth—a light that will brighten the lives of everyone. We urge you to consider our teaching.
Our belief is analogous to this: a horse once galloped through a town so quickly that the townspeople never got a good look at it, but many thought that they saw it out of the corner of their eye. Some said unequivocally, “the horse was brown.” Others said just as firmly, “the horse was black.” Still others, without hesitation, stated “the horse was tan.” They all then went home, telling their children, “the horse was such and such.” The children accepted their parents' teaching and believed that the horse was brown or black or tan as they were taught. Over time, the children gathered together and argued among themselves. Some said, “we honor our parents' instruction: it was brown.” Others said, “our parents do not lie: it was black.” The others said, “our families are good, noble, and true: it was tan.” They became divided among themselves, and ceasing to speak to each other, they separated and became even more confident of their own view. One day, a child among them gathered them again and said, “we must resolve this. The horse went through quickly. Did I see it? No, so I shall not be partial to any side. Many people of equal reputation saw it and saw differently. Therefore, let us say that we do not know, and if one group among us was right, we all should accept that but equally accept that we cannot determine which one it was.” Hearing this, the children reconciled. They never learned what color—brown, black, tan, or something else—the horse was, but they learned to live without knowing.
All of life is like this. When one of us travels to a town, we see its inhabitants participating in one set of beliefs fully and unquestioningly, and when asked about their belief, they respond, “how fortunate that you have visited us! Our beliefs are pure and wise and true. They will serve you well. As proof, look at how good our society is.” Even the drunkard lying in the street at night believes in that city’s religion. Perhaps he does not take its teachings to heart or has a juvenile understanding of them, but he surely does not affirm a different belief. (After all, to ignore something is not to disbelieve it.) Everyone trusts these beliefs and assumes their truth as if no other religion had ever even been suggested between the horizons of the sunrise and sunset. Only among the immigrant families is another view known, but they equally presume the beliefs of their home and ignore everything around them. Likewise, the natives of the city pay no heed to the immigrants except to chastise them for their error.
Then, when we depart the town, we walk to another, and life is exactly the same: everyone is unified in belief, excited to share it with a visitor, and grateful that those beliefs have created such peace and success. As before, even their drunkards affirm their beliefs by cursing them. The only difference is this: their beliefs are very dissimilar from the last town. They worship different gods and different numbers of gods. Their rituals differ, and so do their views of the afterlife. They recognize different prophets and supernatural beings, and they use different scripture or divine poetry.
We who live at Kireca are weary of this. Humanity is the story of people who have known their own village but ignored everything else, leaving them blind and dedicated to error, for we take it as the most simple of truths that opposites cannot be real. Only one of these many communities can believe the truth, and given how many there are, we know that most people live in blind error. Certainly we respect the sincerity of them all, and we do not doubt their success at flourishing their communities. Indeed, many peoples, despite their error, have risen to great success and power. Nevertheless, we disown each of their beliefs equally. While we neither have nor seek power, we insist on being true, for truth is of remarkable value.
All across Naithan, prayers and worshipful songs rise up in a din of conflicting noise, and from this we refrain without hesitation. We know that any particular melody—one single strand within the grotesquely-knotted tangle—can be tempting, for the people of any one village do indeed think themselves quite divinely blessed. However, by refraining from this delusion ourselves, we do what is right and lack nothing for doing so. If pursuit of truth is itself a melody, then we find it beautiful. If defense of truth is itself a strand, then we find it strong and pure. If love of truth is itself a color of the rainbow, then we find that color most wonderful. We are not deprived of religion’s awe and wonder, for we too are committed to a great truth. However, for us, that truth is truth itself. What, then, makes our testimony more reliable to you than everyone else’s? Simply this: while others believe in certain things and purport them to be true, we believe in nothing divine and therefore are true. Thus we urge you to believe in no god and awake from the plethora of falsehood around us.
Now many say to us, “but you admit that one belief might be true. You are most fortunate, for ours is that one.” Know that we are wearier of this statement than almost anything else in life. What is the likelihood that the one true community is the one addressing us? Very slim, we think. Surely no person has ever come to us and said, “as you review all belief, pass over us quickly, for we are wrong.” Instead, many a person has come to us and said, “I am true,” and we have said, “but your belief is one of so very many.” In response, we hear, “yes, but I am true.” To this we can say nothing except, “nevertheless, your belief is one of so very many.” No one seems to answer us, for although conviction runs deep, rationale does not.
Now, could a true religion exist somewhere? Could a people under this sun know the real truth? Perhaps. Nevertheless, we accept that we may never identify these people. What tools have we to do so? One people say to us, “long ago, such and such a deity appeared to our forefathers.” Another will cite similar authority. How can we differentiate the two? We are, at least to the best of our knowledge, unable to do so. Unless a true god becomes obvious in some way—and we do not deny this possibility—we accept that ours is a knowledge of non-knowledge. We, after all, believe ourselves to be a humble people. Everywhere, we hear, “we know what is far up in the heavens” or “we know what is below the earth” or “we know what is in a different existence entirely.” However, we say the opposite, believing in two things and two things alone: our own experience and the testimony of those in whom we gain faith through vigorous scrutiny. However, from these, we have never derived great knowledge of the divine. This, nevertheless, is not surprising, for we do not soar through the heavens but are mere humans. We see no shame in acknowledging this and urge you to do the same since it earns great reward.
As you strive for truth, know that we do too. We wish you the best in all things and offer you any wisdom or guidance in our possession. You deserve it just as much as we do.
Beraca, Shrakor, Onouon, Telakaf, and Emelog all send greetings. They constantly yearn for your good fortune, and they love their relatives.
I send greetings to Ulvear, for he was once known to me. His devotion to Qualiae certainly does not make me regard him less.
All of Kireca stands with you.