Without the truth, all may be lost.
Recalling my own past, I embarrassingly reflect upon deliberate and casual lies and deceit. Some for personal gain, some for status, some for reputation management and some because it seemed more convenient than the truth.
Most of us can recall mistruths that caught us out, it is a rare mind that doesn’t recollect, with some degree of vividness, the suffering and shame of consequences.
Those who judge the above sentences too harshly, believing that falsehoods are for others and not for them, that truth is the only thing they could and will ever know; these people I suspect, are caught in the deepest of personal deceptions, and truth is further from their grasp than from the craftiest of hustlers.
Whilst we are born with a desire to find and hold truth, the path to it’s warm bosom isn’t so simple. Its gift is not given, but earned perennially, and never banked. The manipulation of truth is a trait every human must learn to overcome. A child will rigorously test the boundaries of honesty, playing with the truth and its infinite possibilities in the same way they play with a new toy; in every way imaginable, until it finally breaks.
Alas, we cannot exhaust or break deceit, it is not so easily discarded. The possibilities and roads within deception are endless, yet there remains only one way out.
Despite this, the choice to commit to truth is not so obvious. It takes character, courage and deep integrity to hold it paramount. Throughout our lives, it remains temptingly easy to gently manipulate truth to our own advantage, without any obvious consequences.
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put forth in a short but terrifyingly pointed summary. “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
Unlike Aleksandr, I would not be so bold to assume this is true for all, but seek humility enough to admit this is at least true for myself.
I believe none of us to be so benign and one dimensional. We each possess the capacity for good or bad, honesty or dishonesty. We are continually confronted with a choice between these extremes. That we intuitively understand this choice in others, makes truth so valuable and pure action so revered.
This acceptance can make way for a somewhat belligerent showdown with the most challenging question of all?
What of the deceits for which there is no obvious price to pay?
I suspect the impact to be insidious in its infancy, but increasingly and devastatingly malignant as the years pass. The point of origin may grow misty and hard to discover, but the depth of impact will become unavoidably clear. Lies that linger in the soul have no place to go except inwards.
We might carry the covert price of deceit with us for as long as we choose to hide it from view. To think we can escape our own judgement could be the greatest deception of all.
Could it be that we either face down the judgement of our interval values and confront the darkness within, or we allow the scars to be carved into our hearts and thus into every moment of our lives. The least compassionate judge of all is the self. Even the kindest of hearts do not smile on deception.
When our actions and words conflict with our values, we surely suffer profoundly, yet if instead we pretend our truth and values don’t matter, could it be that we have chosen to turn away from who we are?
Once we have taken to lying to ourselves, is this to surrender everything we are? If we are not a reflection of our own truths, we become a baseless creation. Who or what is the being that isn’t true to themselves? It cannot even lay claim as a shadow or reflection, since both of these require authentic forms to cast them.
If we conquer everything, except ourselves, what have we conquered?
Can we have it ‘all’ (success, status, acclaim) and still be lost?
The lies within
Could the most challenging deceptions to confront and discover, be the internal lies we whisper to ourselves? They land, smiling softly, providing neat justification for everything we do. Yet whilst they gently caress our eyes with a temporary and soothing water, they are blinding us to the fire they are setting forth to our being.
These are the lies we use to comfort our very existence. These are not necessarily malicious, unkind or even harmful to others. Instead, they become seemingly beneficial pillars of support in standing up to the destructive assaults of truth we rally against.
Yet the truth we defend against, both conscious and subconsciously, has a purpose beyond the devastating shudders of impact, and the guards of lies we have empowered, imprison us within their shelter. The truth we hide from seeks to build something new, something that could stand up to the pressure of interrogation without the need for temporary and unstable reinforcement.
It endeavors to reinstate the truth. The truth does not need to be justified and needs no fortress.
Confronting internal deceptions will tear holes in the fabric of your being; every siege placed upon our character, that we defended so defiantly, might have been true, at least to some extent. That’s a terrifying thought. Meticulously picking through your own defences is as humbling as it is shattering.
Truth is a cruel teacher, even as I write, I am reminded of this.
Am I penning these words to benefit you, or am I writing them to convince you of something about myself? I want you to succeed, but I also want you to think well of me. This truth influences my words and shapes my intention. That’s hard for my ego to swallow. My pride takes a knee and my status wobbles, but I am freed by the honesty.
By admitting this, I give up nothing for everything. You are almost certainly indifferent to my pride and status, but likely value my honesty. The puncture to ego is mine alone. Pride and status are meaningless creatures in the face of truth.
Finding truth as my guiding light is the most powerful experience of my life, I hope you reflect upon these passages and find benefit – but by sharing my truth, I also further my own hollow need for recognition. That is hard to write, but the truth rests easy, even when it is hard.
I want to be better, but I am not there. Being true opens doors to progress.
A road to selflessness
My life was previously marked by deep depression, but by rigorously aligning actions with values, the truth has brought peace and stability, if not joy. It has helped lighten the load of mortality, creating a vision beyond the axis of self that we spin on freely since the moment of inception. It has brought a botched level of selflessness, as I reflect on the ridiculousness of my own ego and it’s desire to be respected and important. Shedding this, is my grandest ambition.
Botched selflessness is many leagues better than masterful selfishness.
The truth is difficult and confronting – but it holds a value that is unparalleled. Without it, you can never be who you are, only a false creation that may be outwardly successful, but is almost certainly inwardly bankrupt.
The price of confronting lies can be high. Sometimes the truth comes at the cost of pride, status, judgement or shame, but to forego the truth is to sell yourself. To my mind, that cost is everything you are, will be and could be.
The truth sets your character free, unleashing the confidence to find courage in all you do.