The meaning of truthful, being truthful, post-truth and much more
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth” – Buddha
Valued and revered, the trait of truthfulness holds a special place in the universal system of values. Honored and respected throughout time, being truthful is a prerequisite in any law system. It is common that leaders in the society are expected to be honest and truthful while deceitful leaders have usually met violent ends in the history of time.
A truthful person is committed to speaking and acknowledging the truth, and acting with integrity. While it takes courage to speak the truth without the fear of any consequence, it is by being truthful that we earn respect and love. Satya refers to the meaning of truthfulness in Hindi, where one strives only to speak the truth and nothing else.
Every student is aware of the messy nature of lying. Sooner or later a liar is bound to forget his lies or keep their tails straight. It’s easy to lie but impossible to keep track of them. One can easily create this fantasy world but in an ever-changing universe, lies are short-lived. Truth always has a way of coming up to the surface and hence, no matter how intricately the lies have been woven, there’s only one outcome. The bubble bursts.
Yet, lies replacing truthfulness have become more or less the norm in modern society. Lies have become so blatant that there are fairness creams that claim to make a dark-skinned person into a fair and handsome bloke. However, the irony lies here; the advertisement for the fairness cream markets a white man to be attractive while an astonishing fact is that the most perfect human face belongs to Denzel Washington who incidentally is a black man. What is then the meaning of being truthful?
However, as students, we must all acknowledge that we have all lied at some point. It is always easier to give the excuse of a traffic jam than to admit that you got up late. However, doing this will neither enhance the lives of students or force us to make amends. Although we have lied to another person, we essentially have lied to ourselves. Being truthful is a quality innate, springing up from the core of one’s conscience. The meaning of being truthful lies in a pure indulgence in truthfulness irrespective of the consequences.
It is amusing that somehow being truthful stresses us out as compared to indulging in telling a lie. Students may lie to cover their tracks, get away with something, or just to feel more comfortable. But in reality, nothing can be trickier and tiring than telling a lie. It is simply exhausting to tell lies and keep track of them. Mark Twain observed, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” And that is the beauty of being truthful; the peace of mind that truth offers cannot be equated with anything else in the world.
A fair and just society is based on the foundations of truth. Besides, all witnesses in court must swear to tell the truth – “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” It is mandatory because the pathway of truth is the only way justice can be delivered. Additionally, sincere students are fully aware of their skills and shortcomings and realize who they are. Thereby, truthful people indulge in an honest portrayal of themselves to the world. They do not have different faces for the public and private realm unlike the others who lie. They ascertain that they fulfill their promises or commitments and give a precise description of themselves and others. They never try to mislead anyone.
Truthfulness as a social characteristic, acts as a binding force to keep the community grounded and rooted. Introduce lies and hypocrisy and it won’t take long for hell to break loose. The quality of being truthful allows for ample self-introspection and one always has a moral conscience that helps learn from mistakes and differentiate right from wrong.
Fundamentally, truth can be divided into two types – being true to yourself, and being true to others. Though closely linked, the two mustn’t be mistaken to be the same. As William Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, that thou canst not then be false to any man”. Being truthful to oneself allows one to extend it to others as well.
“If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people — including me — would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism”- Hunter S. Thompson
Students should be aware that it is impossible to always tell the truth. Truthfulness in rare circumstances can equate to an act of absolute stupidity. Hence, it is not well-advised to tell everything to everyone for that matter. Excessive sharing of personal information is not welcome, even if it is the truth.
Also, never divulge secrets. It is absolutely important to remain silent if someone has confided in you and asked you not to share the information further. Under such circumstances, you are duty-bound to keep mum and not advocate being truthful.
Truthfulness is important, but so is not hurting others. Hence, truthfulness and tact must go hand in hand, otherwise, the truth may be unacceptable to those who hear it.