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Guest Column - Is it the truth?

January 1, 2018

At every Rotary meeting we recite the Four-Way Test. The first question is what? Is it the truth?

How often do you ask yourself this question each day? And what is your answer?

Lying is very acceptable, handy, and it pays off. Is there anyone in our Rotary who could stand up and say, "Everything I have said and done this week is totally truthful?" Could we say, "everything on my tax return is the whole truth?" Everyone is doing it, right? Scary! Truth in our country is an endangered species. Furthermore, lack of truthfulness undermines trust in life together. About 20 years ago I read an article about truth-telling. My mouth fell open when I discovered that 90% of people surveyed admitted that they lied regularly. For months afterward I wondered, "Is there was any sense in talking with other people if we are all lying."

There's another problem with our idea of truth. We confuse "My thinking" with the truth. Truth is almost always more complex than I immediately understand. I need to stop arguing and start listening to others who think differently in order to grasp the whole truth.

Furthermore, memories change. When we repeatedly tell ourselves something we come to believe it. Each time we re-member an event as well as thoughts and feelings about it we create a NEW memory that writes over the old memory! My memories of an event are different from the ones at the moment of the event. Sometimes I tell a story and Cindy chuckles, "That's not what happened!" Then she will recount her memory, and sometimes she is absolutely right. My memory changed, but I thought my current story was the "Truth."

Additionally, there are incentives to lie. I do something that would get me in trouble or embarrass me, and I want to avoid that… so my mind comes up with an "alternate truth." Or is it a lie?

Then we are tempted to another step: calling uncomfortable truths "fake news," or calling others liars. This distracts me and others from MY untruthfulness.

It takes genuine courage to admit real truth to ourselves, as Jesus said, confronting the log in my own eye before I judge others. When was the last time you confessed, "I Lied." Failing to do so undermines the foundation of trust that make a relationship, a nation, a world.

Watch yourself, if you want to become a true Rotarian. We can redevelop sensitivity to truth inside ourselves. Sometime now, I catch myself thinking up a lie to protect myself BEFORE I say it. Sometimes I don't notice until later. Then integrity requires me to confess, or apologize. When I admit my lies, it dissuades me from telling more!

Finally, we come to a place where we can humbly ask others, "It that REALLY the whole truth?" As Rotarians we can rebuild truthfulness and the trust that grows from it! Will you help us reclaim truth?

Author: Marsh Hudson-Knapp
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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