You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?
I remember my initial reflections when I read this Word Press prompt the first time around:
If a person is agreeable to you giving them truth serum, that means they’re willing to tell you the truth. If they’re willing to tell you the truth in the first place, you don’t need to give them truth serum.
If for some reason they wish to conceal the truth — which is definitely when you need the truth serum — they aren’t going to take it willingly. You’ll have to sit on them and inject it before you start asking questions.
Thus if I want to learn the truth from someone I’ll ask them. If they want to tell me they will. If they don’t they won’t. And I can’t think of anyone who knows something I need to know so badly that I’d resort to forcing truth serum into them.
I could stop there but — philosopher that I am — I’ll carry on with some general thoughts about Truth and share a personal experience, a rather painful revelation of the truth about myself. We all have them from time to time, right?
WHAT IS TRUTH?
The other side of this Truth issue is that we often don’t really know the truth ourselves. Ask anyone in law enforcement; witnesses don’t agree. We know our version of it. Maybe we haven’t even allowed ourselves to know the truth. So then, how are we capable of telling someone else?
“She broke up with me,” he mumbled over the phone.
“Why?” I asked.
“I don’t know. She never said.”
Having heard a little of her side, I don’t think “she never said.” I think he just didn’t hear. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, there amidst the fog of feelings and fudging, accusations, explanations, and excuses.
Pilate asked Jesus that famous question: “What is truth?” Not because he really wanted an answer. His subsequent actions prove that he did indeed see the truth clearly; he just didn’t want to let it hit him that hard. And he knew it would if he acknowledged it.
Before we can really know the truth we have to love it. Love truth even if it knocks us right out of orbit. Embrace it even when it reveals that I’m wrong, my actions are unfair, my motives selfish. Love the truth and refuse to bury it under a heap of self-justification.
If I really want to know the truth I won’t deceive my conscience by saying, “Sure I said that to her and it probably did hurt her, but just think what she said to me in the first place.” I won’t try to justify what I did with “What he did was just as bad — or even worse!”
It’s hard to love the truth that much. It hurts to let the truth reveal that my words were deceptive, my actions spiteful. And then to come out and admit it to the ones I’ve wronged. Big time OUCH! I’ll admit that I haven’t always loved the truth that much.
My mind goes back to one Sunday evening after our church service when I was moaning to a dear Christian friend about my back pain. I’d had chemotherapy for breast cancer in the spring, sank into a depression in the summer, and now in late fall I’d injured my back. I was definitely frustrated!
She listened, then commented, “And maybe there’s a little self-pity in there too?”
It wasn’t given as a criticism or accusation; she left it as a suggestion. But how it stung!
On the way home, turning her remark over in my mind — and the unfairness of it — I was fuming for awhile. Look what all I’d been through! Then the question came to me: “What if it’s true? What if you really are dipping into the well of self-pity? Wouldn’t you want to know it?”
So I silently prayed, “Lord, Is this true? If I really am feeling sorry for myself here, let me see it.”
And I did see it. It wasn’t nice. I didn’t like it. But I knew it was the truth.
The next morning my friend phoned up and told me how sorry she was she’d let that comment slip out. I told her, Martha, DON’T apologize. That was exactly what I needed to hear.”
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
Jesus words were true then and now. Self-deception wants to lock us up in a prison of “Everybody’s against me. Nobody understands me.” Truth can open that cell door, but the first glimpse of light may be awfully painful.