This is an example of why finding and knowing truth today is so difficult. This is a quote from President Obama this morning. “There has never been a man or a woman more qualified to be President of the United States than Hillary Clinton. That’s the truth.”
Does he truly believe that statement? If he does he is misguided, if he doesn’t he is lying. It is reckless and unprofitable to make a statement of such magnitude. But, in today’s world it is not the truth, it’s about what one chooses to believe is true and how one reacts to truth.
The confusion today begins with a given statement of truth, the reaction to the statement, and the subsequent response to the reaction. When people hold differing positions on the same issue, both cannot be right. Truth by definition is exclusive. The rift, the argument, the isolation all comes when one side or the other dogmatically clings to their idea of truth. In the present world of morality it is getting uglier every day.
Mo believes that the world would be a better place if he could eliminate his next door neighbor Pete. Mo’s belief system says that the truth he holds is superior to all or any other truth and in the system he follows it teaches that Mo for the sake of humanity has the right to eliminate (kill, destroy) Pete for the betterment of the human race. Disagreeing with Mo is not an option for Pete. It’s agree with Mo or death.
Donald believes that sleeping with his new girlfriend and her boyfriend is acceptable. He’s married and has lost count on the number of times he has hooked up with other women and men. Donald believes that it is his right to provide happiness for men and women he is acquainted with that are lonely and desire physical and emotional companionship. It makes him and everyone happier people. He has the right to experience happiness. Disagreeing with Donald’s truth is unacceptable; to do so in Donald’s view means that your truth is obviously out of touch with the “mainstream”.
Fred believes that the non-profit he established to address and impact human sex-trafficking does not need to report all of the contributions made to the charity because the work he is doing is so important and the benefits to the children so necessary that lying to the IRS is acceptable because of the greater cause.
Mo, Donald, or Fred would not understand how or why anyone would question their behavior. They may respond, “What gives you the right to challenge my beliefs?” “Where do you get off questioning my choices?” This is the truth I live by.
Here’s the rub. Each person has the right to choose what to believe. Every person has the right to hold to that belief with uncompromising passion. It is when someone, anyone disagrees with another person’s truth that things get messed up, and watch out when someone chooses to disagree and or criticize unprovoked. Civility, sanity, and common sense go out the window.
How do you respond to a person that is passionate about their beliefs with which you disagree? What is the proper approach and reaction that will allow for civility and calm at the end of the day, whether there is agreement or not?
One day a very rich young man encountered Jesus the Truth. He asked what he would need to do in order to be a follower. The response came in a polite, calm, matter of fact way. Jesus responded, “If you wish to be complete, you must go and sell all of your possessions and give them to the poor…then come and follow me.” The very rich young man was disappointed. This response did not line up with his understanding of the truth he desired for himself. He left that day unwilling to change his thinking.
It’s the response to his decision that intrigues me though. When the rich young man chose not to believe Truth, the man just turned and walked away. Jesus did not berate him, did not run after him to try and convince him of his ignorance. He didn’t gather allies around him to discredit the man. He didn’t try to isolate or ignore him. Jesus just watched him walk away. They parted without incident, quietly.
Another day Jesus was sitting by a well when a woman came by wishing to get some water. There was immediate tension in the meeting as they were from different ethnic groups. Jesus was well aware that the woman was living with a man that wasn’t her husband; in fact she had slept around quite a bit. He shared with her an opportunity to leave her situation and consider a new belief system. They had a pleasant conversation. Jesus did not condemn her behavior, he did not berate her for her choices he simply offered her an alternative to her present thinking and condition. She left pondering all she had heard. It was now her choice to decide what to believe. The truth didn’t change and the two left the conversation thoughtfully and kindly.
After all this time, there is still only one truth. We cannot stop believing because there is disagreement. We cannot stop believing because the word has gone out that the Truth/Jesus is outdated and disproven. We cannot stop confronting lies because it may hurt someone’s feelings. We cannot stop believing truth because our lives are threatened. We cannot stop believing because lies gain strength and numbers.
We can live truth and the power it possesses will strengthen our resolve. We can know truth and live in peace. We can hold onto truth and experience joy. We can embrace truth and it will show in kindness to others. We can listen quietly and attentively to another’s view of the world and if asked we can offer truth as we believe with gentleness and kindness. Truth will be known by how well it loves.