Truth has many layers
THERE’S an interesting episode in the gospel that tells us that truth indeed has many layers and we just have to be careful with our assertions especially when done as if we already know everything.
It’s in the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 7. “Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, ‘This is truly the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But others said, ‘The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village were David lived?’”
Somehow, everyone said something truthful, but not everyone was in the truth. This can happen to us in our exchanges and discussions. We can say something truthful in the sense that we can cite certain data and facts, but we need to realize that data and facts do not necessarily say the last word, and they can even be contradicted in the end.
Yes, we need to realize that truth has many layers, levels, dimensions and angles, and we just have to be careful and prudent when making our assertions given this character of truth. At the very least, we have to be cordial and civil with each other especially when we find ourselves in opposite sides in a certain issue or topic. We also need to realize that truth has its ultimate foundation in God who is the Creator of everything, and that every attempt we make to establish a truth should always have a clear reference to and respect for God. Otherwise, we would end up like the devil who is the father of lies and can only dish out lies, citing facts and data.
In fact, in that temptation of Christ in the desert (cfr Mt 4,1-11), the devil cited scriptural passages to supports his assertions. Indeed, the devil said something truthful, but in the end he was actually lying. We may not have the intention to lie or to deceive anyone with our statements, but we just have to see to it that our assertions are not made as if they have the final say about a certain issue, even if we have a plethora of data and facts to support our views. We should be open to the positions of others and continue to probe our views to see to it that we are not missing anything.
We should be open-minded and ready to revise or even change our views the moment we get hold of another piece of data that sheds better light on our position. As much as possible, we should avoid hardening our positions for the sake of protecting our personal views. Such attitude is what actually generates unnecessary contentions and controversies that are very toxic to all of us. In the end, what really matters is that all efforts to get to the truth about anything should start and end with God, and not just with facts and data alone. In fact, all efforts to get to the truth should be done in the context of love for God and for everyone, and for the salvation of mankind. Short of that, we would be playing with fire in our assertions.
We have to disabuse ourselves from developing a disordinate attachment to facts and data that ignores or even is hostile to God’s will and ways, and is detached from the ultimate context and perspective. In our discussions, it pays to have a good grip on our emotions and passions, as well as on our preferences and the many conditionings that we are subjected to—our temperaments, our physical condition, our cultural background, etc.