On the consequences of having the truth

A claim to the truth is a claim for obedience. For, after all, if I have the truth, why wouldn’t you give up what you say and obey (or believe or follow, etc.) me. Of course, if you claim to have the truth, then my truth is false; it is not the truth. And I should obey you.

Two of consequences of this are the closure of possibilities for agreement and difficulty in relating to one another. These consequences have ramifications for for much of our human living together. In this political season, let me give one example:

Most all politicians and pundits claim in their speaking that what they say is the truth. We hear it is such phrases as “the truth is…” or “the truth of the matter is…”. Just picture the posturing bellicose heads shouting over each other on television. Nothing for the body politic but bad theater and increasingly bitter partisan discord.

On the other hand, one of the pillars of Barack Obama’s skyrocketing popularity is a missing word and the orientation its absence reveals. In listening to him, you don’t hear him use the word truth. Instead he talks about what he understands from his experience. He grounds his claims in the life he has lived and not in an appeal to the truth of what he says — making him an extraordinarily appealing political figure.

More on the topic of truth in a later post.


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