Discovering, let alone accepting, truth is a difficult task. More difficult than we acknowledge. It is a slog, a lifelong endeavor, full of ups and downs, surprises, forgiveness, and repentance. And, in many ways, deep joy.
We are meant to be creatures of learning. There is always more truth to discover. Each person has a light to shed on truth. Ultimate truths about what matters, what makes people happy, and how to operate in community. As well as “smaller” truths like how to perceive a particular circumstance or issues.
Although we don’t often think about this way, at least I don’t, truth always comes with an element of risk.
When we are trying to learn, choose, and/or accept a truth, the exercise itself is an act of vulnerability. There are a few reasons for this. First, the world is a kaleidoscope of competing truths. So, leaning into one claim on truth (even the right one) exposes us to criticism from other avenues making the same claim. It is a risk to say, even to think, that something is right. True.
We have tried to wiggle out of this tension by allowing truth to be relative. Our culture often claims “my truth” as if we are all equally entitled to define the parameters of the claim ourselves. Which, of course, is swathed in hypocrisy. We want to proclaim “my truth” and a right to it, but are suddenly much less open when someone else’s “truth” seems to violate ours. Said another way: someone claiming “my truth” in order to proclaim they are not defined by the abuse they have endured is going to get a very different reaction than a neo-Nazi’s claim on “my truth”.
All this to say that seeking truth is a risk. The competing truths will have something to say.
Even more risky, committing to a truth is an act of character. An act of trust. It puts us on a pun
ath. It becomes, in a very real sense, part of who we are. And that is quite a risk. If we get it wrong; if we call truth a lie and a lie truth, it can derail our entire character. The risk is that we choose the wrong path.
Out of Control
This leads to an even deeper risk. As we pursue truth and learning, we cannot control where it leads. We cannot manipulate what truth dictates.
We sure do try though. In order to make it easier, cleaner, less confusing, we turn our exploration from a search for truth to a search for what we already think is truth. A subtle yet striking difference. We become an echo chamber within ourselves. When we are seeking to reinforce our conclusions, we are no longer genuinely seeking to find truth but to control it.
On the other hand, seeking truth in humble honesty means finding out how wrong we are, adjusting our perspective, and exposing ourselves to a question we do not know the answer to. Uncertainty is the gateway to truth, although we often act as though the opposite were true.
At The Crossroad, we often say “truth is an acquired taste”. It is a risk to continue along the path to acquire that taste. But, after all, it is a risk to stabilize on shaky ground. All we do is a risk, a choice. We have to do our best, with courage and discernment. The pursuit of truth is worthy of the trouble, the uncertainty, and the vulnerability. It is the key to everything we do in life.