Nothing but the truth

 by Henrylito D. Tacio

THROUGHOUT the years that Dr. Marfe Tagarda-Prado has been teaching medical ethics, one particular case that never fails to awe her is the story of a child who was “born dead.” It goes this way: “During the delivery, the baby was dropped from the hands of the receiving intern and died immediately. Her parents were informed the child was born dead.”

Dr. Tagarda-Prado asked her medical students: “Should the parents have been informed of the circumstances of baby’s death?” According to her, the general consensus of the students “has always been to tell the parents the truth of the circumstances of the baby’s death.”

Yes, to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. “Why would I apologize for telling the truth?” That was what the former Negros Oriental Representative Herminio Teves posed when asked by the powerful body tasked with confirming presidential appointments to high office to issue a public apology.

Truth,” said Epictetus, “is a thing immortal and perpetual, and it gives to us a beauty that fades not away in time, nor does it take away the freedom of speech which proceeds from justice; but it gives to us the knowledge of what is just and lawful, separating from them the unjust and refuting them.”

“Truth is always strong, no matter how weak it looks, and falsehood is always weak, no matter how strong it looks,” Phillips Brooks points out. “Truth is incontrovertible,” Sir Winston Churchill quips. “Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is.”

Robert A. Cook advises never to tell a lie “Always tell the truth,” he suggests. “Then you don’t have to worry about what you said last.” Barry Stevens, paraphrasing the Holy Bible (John 8:32), states, “The truth shall make you free, but first it shall make you miserable.”

The truth hurts, Teves told the press. Why is this so? As Sylvanus and Evelyn Duvall explain, “Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a person is to tell him a truth that will prove very painful. But in so doing, you may have saved him from serious harm or even greater pain. In a word such as ours, people must learn to ‘take it.’ A painless world is not necessarily a good world.”

Truth is stranger than fiction, so they say. Novelist Mark Twain wonders: “Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” Playwright Edward Albee surmises, “A play is fiction and fiction is fact distilled into truth.”

People around the world are always in search for the truth. However, it always takes two persons to speak the truth. “One to speak,” said Henry David Thoreau, “and another to hear.” Georges Braque claims, “Truth exists; only falsehood has to be invented.”

The opposite of truth is lie. “A lie is the refuge of weakness,” said J.C. Macaulay. “The man of courage is not afraid of the truth.” To which American president Abraham Lincoln added: “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” And a Russian proverb said so, “With lies you may go ahead in the world – but you can never go back.”

American president Thomas Jefferson noted: “He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time till at length it becomes habitual.” To which William Shakespeare, the father of English literature, dismissed: “When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies.”

Only liars are afraid of the truth. “Telling the truth,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “is not solely a matter of moral character; it is also a matter of correct appreciation of real situations and of serious reflection upon them.”

A young woman went to work at a church where youth ministry had never gone very well. The woman had no previous experience with young people, but her enthusiasm convinced everyone that she was a good choice. Over the first few months of her employment, the group grew slowly. However, the growth was continuous. The church leader stopped in to see what the young woman was doing that was so successful. He was nothing extraordinary, so he stayed after to talk with the woman.

I’ve been around a long time,” the church leader said. “I’ve seen some good youth leaders, and I’ve seen some bad, but I’ve never seen one who has built up the group like you have. What’s your secret?”

The children know I care,” the young man revealed. “They can trust me. No matter what happens, they know I won’t lie to them or about them. That’s all.”

Oftentimes, disclosing the truth is hard. “Telling the truth isn’t always easy; that’s one of the reasons people lie – it’s easier at that moment than telling the truth,” explained Bill Vossler in his article, Twelve Reasons to Tell the Truth.

What are these twelve reasons? Below are some quoted passages from the article:

1. Truth is right. “Lying is wrong,” he said. “It’s that simple. Always every culture and religious system recognizes and teaches this moral truth.”

2. Lies will come back to haunt you. “You can’t hide from your lies; you can sweep them under the rug for a while, but in an hour, a day, a month, or a year, they will wiggle back out on the floor into daylight for everyone to see.”

3. Lies weigh you down. If you lie to someone, you feel bad. You wonder what he knows and whether he’ll confront you or not. “In a way, you become a fugitive, running from the lie you told.”

4. Lies prevent you from developing as a person. “You might easily spend time, energy, and worry on lies instead of concentrating on friendship, learning, joy and having fun.”

5. Truth enhances your reputation. “If you work hard at telling the truth, other people will notice. They will also respect you for it, because they know how difficult telling the truth can sometimes be.”

6. Truth will make true friends for you. “Friendship is built on shared interests, caring for each other, and honesty, or telling the truth, among other things.”

7. In truth, you will feel better about yourself. “Truth is gentle, healing sponge that keeps your conscience clean and spotless, and you happy.”

8. Truth makes you a better person. “If you choose to tell lies, then you will probably begin to choose other wrong directions in life.”

9. One truth-telling makes the next one easier. “Telling the truth requires practice. Each truth-telling strengthens you for doing the right and truthful thing the next time.”

10. Your truth makes it easier for others to tell the truth. “Your being truthful makes it easier for others to be truthful with you, and it is through knowing these truths that you can make changes to accomplish many of the things you want to accomplish in life.”

11. You’ll be different. “Truth-tellers are few and far between.”

12. You have to live with yourself. “Because of being human, everyone falls short of always telling the truth. But if you try hard, and are gentle and kind and caring when telling the truth, you’ll gain friends, fame, and riches in your personal life that you can’t now imagine.”

Pulitzer-prize winning author Pearl S. Buck pointed out: “The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.” — ###


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