What is the truth? She says, he says. She accuses him. He protests, calling her a liar. We didn’t see, so have no idea who to believe. How to be just then? Let things cool off, then probe anew. Nope. She is adamant it happened. He is adamant it didn’t. Tell the truth means nothing here.
Out in the real world, we adults are no better. On social media, we forward lies and untruths without a moment’s thought. In our relationships, we take the side of our friend irrespective of the truth. We never recall, “Be just even against yourselves.” Truth is the first casualty of, well, everything. Truth is contingent on belonging: sectarianism, family loyalty, politics.
In childhood and adolescence, perhaps these untruths can be forgiven, for their brains are still developing. The child with chocolate on her face is adamant that she didn’t eat the cake. The teenager seen punching another kid directly in front of us is adamant he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Lies poison everything. Some things you never get to the bottom of. To this day, I still don’t know the truth of events that happened years ago. Friends told me some things, but I have no idea if they were telling the truth or not. I don’t know if they were speaking with knowledge, or just from supposition. In the end you just have to forgive and forget.
I used to take it for granted that people of faith do not lie. Of course I realise now that I was very naive. Faith teaches, “Do not mix truth with falsehood” but believers everywhere are just people, completely unreliable. It turns out that even the apparently pious will tell lies in the service of promulgating their faith, a mission always destined to fail.
It is shameful, really, that even as fully grown adults we continue to lie in service of our own personal interests. How can this have happened? Are our hearts truly that withered and dark that we feel no compunction at all? Are our lives really so hard that we can’t even take ourselves to account?
Who was it who said, “The highest faith is the pursuit of truth, and higher still to live truthfully“?
Actually it was the teacher of that movement for social justice known as sikhi, but I embrace it as though it was a part of my tradition, because it is true. That is indeed what we who follow the path ought to hold fast to. There can be no place for untruths on the path back to the One.
Tell the truth, always, even against yourself. It will make life easier for everyone.