Just before everyone arrived this past Sunday, one of the members and I were discussing an issue that came down to bringing up my favorite question: “Which would you prefer: (a) to continuing believing exactly as you do now, or (b) to know the truth?”
Another member, who was not in that conversation with us, overheard the question and quickly answered, “To know the truth.” The person I had addressed the question to answered as so many others do — “It depends on what you’re calling ‘the truth.’” (There are many variations on that it depends kind of answer, but all of them want to further qualify the question. There are no further qualifications.
It’s a simple “pick one” kind of question with only two choices from which to choose.)
Over the years, when asking that question, I’ve discovered that most people want me to define “truth.” We all know what that is and if we have to have it defined, we’re trying to hedge on the answer. TRUTH IS WHAT IT IS. No one can change it to look like something else if they still want it to be the truth. We’re not talking remaking a harsh truth into something more palatable; we’re not talking making a cruel truth into something more kind; we’re not talking making a simple truth sound more scientific; we’re simply saying that of all things we know or want to know, some of them are true and some of them are not.
Of their own being. Of their own essence. By nature. That kind of truth — although always subject to the manipulation and rewording that a good lawyer brings to the courthouse, or a clever teenager employs to appease his parents — real truth, as it were, does not suffer from close examination. For those who are still not sure what I am saying, I will make it even more clear: If you take something that is just plain true (let’s say that you were visiting your grandmother in Reno, NV from Monday to Thursday, and yet some person or even several persons wanted to place you in Las Vegas on that in-between Wednesday,
no matter how they try to make that true for whatever their reason, the fact that you were in Reno — not only at your grandmother’s and around many people who both saw you there and spoke to you there each and every day, you were with a constant companion everywhere you went, even signing credit card receipts each day you were there — AND you have your plane ticket showing your travel to and from Reno) all the efforts of anyone to FIND EVIDENCE to the contrary will be to no
avail. The truth, that you were indeed in Reno, cannot show up as something else — that you were really in Las Vegas — no matter who examines the evidence under a microscope or how hard they try. Those who still choose to believe you were in Las Vegas and not in Reno are simply those who will always choose (a), to continue believing exactly
as they do now.
Sometimes the “problem” with believing Truth is that people don’t know how to examine it. Truth, under such circumstances, can therefore easily suffer from non-examination, not from its own inherent essence of being what it is. Some people, as we so well know, simply choose to believe what they want to believe and no amount of legitimate evidence to the contrary will ever bother them.
Which makes me wonder: Why would so many people choose to continue believing exactly as they do now? Can’t they see that if one chooses to know the truth — in my question scenario anyway — they would automatically then know if what they were believing all these years, and especially right now, is true or not? They would always be free to continue “believing” the untrue if that is their wish, but they would, of course, know that what they were “believing” was not true — which certainly puts a whole different spin on their actions that follow from that “belief.”
Imagine (which has always been my favorite word, but of late, it is being tossed around rather loosely) if once we choose (b), to know the truth, how much we could put to rest? All our long-time questions would be cleared up in a minute (Who really was Jack the Ripper? Who really killed JFK and why? Who really killed Marilyn Monroe and why?
Who really built the pyramids and why?, etc.), but maybe the more important use of learning the truth would be in that those who currently believe it is God’s will to kill off all those who don’t believe as they do might finally get to see and understand a whole new God that was always there and they just couldn’t see it. Imagine if the Jews and the Romans could really have known who Jesus was, to say nothing of everyone who ever came in contact with him or even heard of him, even to this day! Imagine if all the untruth were removed from politics and religion! Life would not necessarily be easier — since people really do hide behind their lies, their untruths, and even their ignorance — but in major ways life would be substantially improved, since no one would go around thinking they’re better than other people (which allows them to treat others with disdain) or that people are out to get them and they need to “get them” first. No one would have that false sense of superiority which leads to causing
others to suffer at their hand, since knowing the truth would clearly show them where they stand; communication between nations would lose its present sense of distrust; trials would be over in a jiffy; no innocent person would ever languish in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and countless people would save countless dollars that they currently waste on years and years of research to disprove what is true, or to prove what is untrue.
Wow! It’s simply staggering what a little truth can do if let loose in this world! And yet, which would YOU prefer? (a) To go on believing exactly as you do now? Or (b), to know the truth?
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.