"For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth." -Jesus of Nazareth
It is Good Friday and an excellent time to reflect on truth, the allegiance to authenticity, factuality, honesty and reliability. No matter what faith tradition we practice-or whether we are agnostic or atheist–truth is a central principle of civil society.
A Visionmaker strives to uphold truth telling in all his or her relations, but especially in facing personal truth. He or she chooses to see things as they are, not as one hopes them to be. By remaining loyal to truth, a Visionmaker ensures that vision is not sacrificed to self-deception.
Truth seems like a value in decline, associated with an earlier, simpler time when character was a matter of honor and what you said and did was a matter of self-respect.
Daniel Boorstin, the American professor and writer, warns us of the consequences of the decline of truth in modern society: “’Truth’ has been displaced by ‘believability’ as the test of the statements which dominate our lives.”
More recently, the American comedian, Stephen Colbert coined the satirical term “truthiness”– the conscious avoidance of facts, logic, evidence and rational analysis – to describe the same condition.
“What is truth,” asked Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus? It is easy to imagine a combination of skepticism, mockery, resignation, and weariness in Pilate’s tone as he asks one of the most famous questions in history. Washing his hands of the pursuit of truth and his responsibility to uphold it, Pilate becomes the archetype of the weak, closed and doubting-hearted politician. His profession has yet to recover.
Jean-Paul Sartre sees a distinction that every Visionmaker would do well to remember in wisdom work: “Like all dreamers, I confused disenchantment with truth.”
Like Pilate, many of us struggle to recognize and acknowledge the truth even when it stares us in the face. Seeing what is true can be disheartening. Sometimes it may seem easier not to see at all. But to avoid looking at what is true is cowardice and comes back to wreak havoc.
Those who prefer fantasy or the posture of an ostrich, head firmly planted in the sand, rather than looking at people and circumstances for what they are, participate in their own betrayal. One has no one to blame but oneself.
There can be no wisdom without truth – and any betrayal of truth is a betrayal of the heart. But how does a Visionmaker recognize truth?
There are four qualities, known as the Landmarks of Truth, which assist the Visionmaker with seeing what is in alignment with the heart, and discerning truth from falsehood. The Landmarks of Truth include authenticity, factuality, honesty and reliability.
In upcoming posts, I will address each distinction.
Happy Easter and Passover. Thank you for visiting Visions.
© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.