By Ian C.
There are two common sayings in reference to the truth, often taken as truths unto themselves:
The first of these is that the truth will set you free.
The other being that the truth hurts.
Considering that these two are contradictory slogans, then it stands to reason that one of these two must be false – or at least not completely true – for the other to be correct. Otherwise both sayings must be entirely false. So let us look at both of these:
“The truth will set you free” seems quite straightforward. The truth in its purest form is often experienced as a liberating and enlightening feeling once discovered, understood and, most importantly, accepted as the truth not simply out of a sense of blind faith, but after a full and thorough examination and comparison with all the facts.
But what about lies, omissions and distortions? If these are the opposite of truth, at least in varying degrees, can they not also set one free under certain circumstances, such as saving a life when under direct threat from an enemy, for example? One can also lie and successfully escape a severe punishment, so does this not mean that one can also lie and be “set free”? It might appear that the first statement is shown to be the false one with these examples, however, it is not the lie nor the truth that is the issue causing the pain or threat of pain in the first place, rather it is the use of force or threat of force to be used against one. When one believes that he cannot use the truth to survive, then he will use lies. When one knows that lies are not enough, only then will he employ force to lies to add fear of questioning the lies. Even if one successfully lies and escapes punishment, there is still a lingering knowledge that one had to lie in order to succeed and must continually recall it and alter his story to match it to seem consistent, which becomes trapping over time. The truth, on the other hand, requires no such thing. Thus, it seems that this statement is true upon initial examination.
But what about the statement “The truth hurts”? It seems to contradict the above statement and yet seems true to many. Yet it does not make sense that the truth would cause hurt to someone if it indeed liberates as already shown. One must then wonder if it is the truth itself that hurts, or if it something else that causes one emotional and mental pain?
After all, the truth is not good, bad, beautiful, ugly, painful or soothing. Those are all value judgments made by an observer, which, while valid opinions, are just that and not measurable facts. Rather, the truth simply IS. And yet the truth is also not self-evident – nothing in the universe is self-evident. Something can only be determined to be a truth upon the comparison and analysis of data of similar magnitudes and types.
Let us go back to the use of lies. A lie can be extremely hurtful and damaging, particularly to one’s reputation; successful cases prosecuting libel and slander have even shown these actions have a negative financial impact. Yet lies can also be used to soothe, such as with “a little white lie” told to prevent hurting someone’s feelings which seemingly has little impact overall. And it is here that we find a clue to the puzzle.
Considering that the truth is not good, bad, beautiful, ugly, painful or soothing, then naturally its opposite in lies, omissions and distortions cannot be anymore so. Yet how is it that truth, which seems honest and righteous on the face of it, can seem hurtful whereas lies, which seem dishonest and manipulative, can seem soothing given the right set of circumstances?
The answer is that it is the receiver of the truth or the lie that makes it painful. After all, words are just words inherently without meaning. But because we equate lies with “wrong” and “false” and “bad” and “dangerous” we resist them even if they cause pain as they can destroy our reputation, businesses, finances, careers, families, relationships, esteem and so on. It is also because we equate truths with “right” and “correct” and “good” and “safe” we accept them because they help us to succeed in those same areas. In fact if we didn’t do so more often then not, we might not survive very long as a person nor a species. Yet there are times when we believe that a truth is a lie because we do not want to hear it or accept it, and so we resist it and get ourselves into trouble as we have substituted something wrong in its place.
What this saying should state in full is that “RESISTANCE TO THE TRUTH HURTS!” That is the omitted information here. Our resistance to the truth is the cause of our pains and sufferings.
It is we who have changed what actually is by using all means of denying, changing, fighting, avoiding, ignoring, altering, distorting, misrepresenting and hiding what IS. Why? We seek to shield ourselves from the responsibility of consequences resulting from an action or inaction taken while simultaneously trying to control others— who themselves are also doing this exact same thing to themselves and others! It then becomes quite difficult to tell what IS, as we have lied to ourselves and others so often about a multitude of subjects, even if unintentionally and unwittingly, that we often remain blind to truth.
The good news is that despite attacks and cover ups on truth, it never permanently disappears.
Unfortunately sayings like “The truth hurts” often turn people away from seeking it out. Who wouldn’t? It sounds painful! So it stands to reason that whomever created this saying was either extremely ignorant, or much worse was trying to mislead and manipulate others into submission. After all, there is some truth in the saying, and as a partial truth will resonate somewhat, it gives one a flavor of liberty and enlightenment when in fact there is something being kept a secret and so liberation is never actually achieved.
Truth never needs to be kept secret. If anything, truth invites (and one might even argue demands) questioning and analysis to make it stand the test of time. Each successful and satisfying answer about its universality will only reinforce it even under the most demanding of questions. Lies and liars, on the other hand, fear questions because their falsehoods will eventually be exposed. The truths about life, ourselves and the universe already exist; it is merely up to us to uncover, discover and recover them for all to know and use, should they actually desire its full potential.
Let us go back to why this saying “The truth hurts” is so damaging and dangerous: By associating truth with hurt and pain then one can deter others from seeking it out in the first place. What’s worse, by circulating it into the common vernacular alongside “The truth will set you free” as a truism, this creates a massive confusion and forms another negative association with freedom. In this way, one can be educated into believing that truth is associated with both freedom AND pain. A natural result of this reasoning is that the pain and hurt is not worth the truth nor freedom, or, at the very least, the it is better that someone else do the suffering for the rest to reap the benefits. (And one hopes that they are not the one who must do the suffering).
It is no wonder that most people believe that in order to achieve any form of freedom they – or someone else – must first suffer for it. Countless religions and politicians have succeeded in using this mechanism for their own manipulative purposes. An obvious and telling example can even be found in the extremely popular statement “freedom isn’t free” which has recently entered the modern vernacular by actually building off the commonly accepted (and one might say indoctrinated) association of freedom and liberty with pain, suffering, death and loss. Thus, war is a necessary if unfortunate byproduct by the extension of this line of logic.
But freedom by its very definition would mean no hindrances nor limits – which pain, suffering, war and death each impose. If someone were trying to control a populace, however, then by convincing them that war brings freedom, death brings freedom, pain brings freedom, and suffering brings freedom, then this only shows that they and the population have become very well versed in Orwellian double-speak – and worse, they actually believe these lies are true.
Freedom means no barriers or limits. The same applies to the truth in that it always is that way – no matter what! A partial truth, a distorted truth, and a hidden truth on the other hand is always limited, for at best it is only true up to a point and is an agreed upon truth, but not universal in that it doesn’t hold up under all circumstances. The pain that occurs as one discovers the truth then is not from the actual truth itself, but from trying to keep in place the self-imposed barriers in the forms of lies, self-deceptions and group agreements each resisting it. Once one sees that these are what is causing the hurt, however, they can much more easily release these barriers and have a much greater degree of freedom than before without the pain involved in that area. This is also why it is easier to deceive ourselves rather than face the truth and see things exactly as they are, because doing so means giving up self-imposed old barriers which denied our responsibility which we created to protect ourselves. When we permanently let go of self-imposed lies, however, we become freed up to a greater degree as we become more responsible for our actions and inactions as opposed to before.
Also, freedom in its truest sense cannot be bought. For in that freedom is not contained but simply IS, it doesn’t have a location. Freedom from and freedom to, on the other hand, can be bought as those have locations. After all, these are a direction either towards or away from a barrier, but the barrier still remains in either case, which still limits some area of mobility. True freedom destroys and dissolves barriers, or perhaps permeates these and does not recognize them as barriers; one only needs to find the truth in the first place in order to see this.
This is not to say that therefore one who lies is necessarily a bad or intentionally a controlling person. In fact, many people tell lies unknowingly yet are thoroughly convinced that they are indeed truths, such as being indoctrinated to believe a lie is indeed truth. But both belief in a lie and ignorance of the truth do not constitute a truth, and are very trapping mechanisms indeed. They would be personal truths, or at best be a group agreement, thus making it a limiting and contextual truth. This is not even in itself necessarily bad, rather it simply is not the truth; after all, truth is neither good nor bad in itself, then why should not-truth be good or bad? It does have a function after all, even if it is limited. No, truth simply IS in that it cannot be changed otherwise it becomes a not-truth.
Now if someone is trying to force a “truth” onto you without allowing proper examination and questioning of its veracity, then you can bet it is based on a lie, for truth is self-explanatory and powerful enough on its own without any force needed to assert itself. If someone is trying to control you with lies coupled with force, then it is the force and control that you are resisting as that brings pain, not necessarily the lies as that can be dispelled upon examination.
It may seem impossible to avoid destroying the person using force or the force itself, which those advocating war to achieve freedom would suggest we use. But freedom does not require this method as it does not recognize barriers in its ultimate sense. It is far better to find, acknowledge and understand the “truth” that this person is operating from and have them examine it for themselves. After all, you cannot force truth onto them, for knowing that it is forced onto them, they will see it as a lie and fight back – even it is not. Far better to remove oneself from the force or threat of force and create some space – the opposite of creating force which is the constricting of space under pressure – than to engage them when they are in a hostile state for no rationality can be had in that situation. Once this threat of force has vanished, it is far better to listen to them, to acknowledge and understand them than to argue with them, for at least they will be heard – which may be all they even wanted in the first place. Only then will they understand that you are willing to listen and respect them, and then they might consider being open to examinations, as truth always invites questions and examinations. After all, if they truly believe that they are operating from the truth, they will even invite questions and examinations themselves in order to prove their point. At this point, they can discover the truth for themselves upon reflection. But if force is used, it will only entrench their beliefs. One also needs to be willing to be wrong as their enemy may even have the truth or truths which were denied on your part.
And one must not try to convince or manipulate in any way when listening with any objective other than to question and examine so as to honestly engage in genuine conversation.
Only then will peace become possible and the truth become accessible to all, and then we as a society can unite to find the truth instead of resisting one another.