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The three-cornered thorns of the truth

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By Muhammed Sidibeh

In the immortal voice of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and academic sceptic about the truth: ‘If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it. Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people. Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.’

These inspiring and thought-provoking words of wisdom by the great Cicero will guide and serve as a cornerstone to this article.

In this article, I will take you through the three fundamental pillars of truth in my view. This, I believe most of you will agree with me, after meticulously reading this piece.

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Truth, they say, is the property of being in accord with fact or reality. Truth is usually held to be the opposite of falsehood. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in various contexts, including philosophy, art, theology, and science.

Most human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life. Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself.

Various theories and views of truth continue to be debated among scholars, philosophers, and theologians. There are many different questions about the nature of truth which are still the subject of contemporary debates, such as: the question of defining truth. If it is even possible to give an informative definition of truth. Identifying things are truth-bearers and are therefore capable of being true or false.

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To begin with, speaking or telling the truth to others is the first thorn of the truth. In fact, the first thorn of the truth is considered the simplest and easiest among the three thorns. This is so because it is easy to see and talk about the faults or weaknesses of others than within. Some might say we quickly point accusing fingers at others when we have our own skeletons in our cupboard. Yes, that might be right, but one must speak the truth to others even if they would not listen because it is one of the truth thorns that would complement the rest of the thorns as full-fledged ones.

Moving fast forward, the second thorn of the truth is accepting the truth wholeheartedly. This thorn is considered more difficult and more disturbing. This is perhaps because of our pride as human beings. Some of us are really full of ourselves, therefore, unwilling to accept the ultimate truth under ill-fated circumstances, thereby, cherry-picking it. This is ironical though because the very people who enjoy truth-telling to others frown upon it when they are confronted with it. Here, some of us would explore all avenues, especially philosophical and Utilitarian Viewpoints to justify what we do, even though we know it is wrong and not truthful. Sadly, this denial syndrome has had questionable repercussions and unhealthy relationships among us as human beings.

Moving swiftly on, the third thorn of the truth, according to the writer, is to live by it. Obey the precepts of the truth. In other words, our actions should be in consonance with the ultimate truth; guided by what we preach. This is believed to be the most difficult and most demanding thorn of the truth. The reason is, this thorn cannot be faked so as to make it. But rather to comport oneself rightfully and truthfully so as to be the leading light – the torchbearer to many. This thorn of the truth is deep and difficult to comprehensively understand and interpret human actions, since what we say is not what we do. Regrettably, we the human beings most often literally judge base on what we see, hear and know. It is at the ultimate end of things, where and when we recognise pretentiousness, betrayal, jealousy of ill will and other social vices which were hidden to us engineered by perpetrators so as to make us misjudge or misinterpret behaviours of others. Just like the Shakespearean Iago to Othello, ‘I am not what I am.’ So does almost every human being. The true colour or character we possess is most of the time hidden.

Again, the importance of Truth is hugely significant. Truth matters, both to us as individuals and to society as a whole. As individuals, being truthful means that we can grow and mature, learning from our mistakes. For society, truthfulness makes social bonds, and lying and hypocrisy break them.

On the contrary and more importantly, why we don’t accept reality is because of our fear. We think if we accept the situation, it will represent us as fools. Even though we know we’re wrong, our fear doesn’t let us accept it, which is more foolish than accepting reality and looking like fools for some time. Unfortunately, when you refuse to accept reality, you get stuck in negative emotions such as sadness, anger, shame, or bitterness.

Moreover, why is lying not immoral according to Utilitarians? Well, Utilitarians base their reasoning on the claim that actions, including lying, are morally acceptable when the resulting consequences maximize benefit or minimise harm. A lie, therefore, is not always immoral; in fact, when lying is necessary to maximize benefit or minimise harm, it may be immoral not to lie.

Even though one of the intents of this article is to discourage the belief and practice of this theory (Utilitarian Viewpoint), it is still conveniently used in our daily dealings and settings, especially the political arenas. In fact, nowadays, we normalised this Utilitarian Viewpoint and it is really causing us direly.

In conclusion, the author’s ultimate aim here is to broaden the concept of truth-telling or being truthful, its importance and why we should shove some conflicting theories aside against the universally accepted ones. That is, if you want to qualify to be labelled ‘truthful person’, you must imbibe the three mentioned thorns of the truth as the omission of one thorn nullifies the rest of the thorns. That is why it must be demonstrated in character and words.

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