05 October 2001

Freedom symbol

Katherine Phelps

Truth can and does involve accuracy of facts. However, often when we are speaking of truth, we speak of it in relation to the moral and spiritual. Sadly the word "Truth" is often applied to deeply held, but not closely examined personal beliefs in order to give them authority.

Truth is at times seen as something out there and larger than any individual, and that is what gives it its authority. I believe that truth can be larger than any individual, but it must also include each individual. If it does not, then I still have not completely found truth yet. Larger truths are often made of many smaller truths, which need to remain in balance with one another in order to remain true. Truth can be so large that no one of us in a single lifetime could ever comprehend it, and yet there are everyday truths that each of us can uniquely cherish.

Truth, I find, is a process. I discover a truth, then must remain flexible enough to encompass a further, larger truth, that I may not have seen until I took this first step. This requires much humility. Many people find it difficult to allow themselves that moment of feeling foolish, when they discover maybe they were wrong. I have been in this position many times, and have learned the benefits outweigh the discomfort. Of course it may not seem so, if standing up for the truth puts the person in physical or legal danger.

Sometimes standing up for a claimed truth is seen as a rite of passage, and then as proof of its authority. "Look, this person was willing to go to jail, even die, for this truth. It must be real." Learning to distinguish between truth and self-righteousness is important. Self-righteousness is not the same as truth. Self-righteousness does not have the flexibility to grow, nor the compassion to embrace the whole situation. For truth great sacrifices will not be demanded, each person must look within and decide for themselves if a truth is worth standing for, and what sacrifices they are willing to make. Sometimes immediate action is needed for truth, and sometimes truth can be a step by step journey through many lifetimes, often both. Truth is everyone's responsibility, not just one individual's.

Truth involves recognising, but not allowing to assume control, feelings such as fear, hatred, anger, then using love, wisdom, and compassion to take the best measure of things. Truth respects the value of every rock, plant, animal, and individual human being. And as individual human beings, we must learn to recognise and respect our own truth and the truth of others. Truth does not require manipulative or emotional appeals, selective facts, or special authority, but can stand in the strength of its own beauty.

I deeply believe in following the path of truth. Sometimes that has called me to stand alone; but in that moment I have always discovered I am not alone. The truth is, I am part of a glorious interconnected whole. When I stand for truth, I am supporting and being supported by all the rest of humanity, who are following a path of truth to the best of their ability. We all simply need the compassion to recognise one another.