(T)ruth or (t)ruth or (truth)?

Almost two thousand years ago in the Roman Empire, a wandering carpenter was proposing simple ideas, such as mercy, compassion, harmonious living and not judging other people while at the same time constantly reflecting internally to grow spiritually with God through our interactions with others. He reduced his teachings to two rules: to love God and to love those around us as ourselves. However, many powerful people took offense at this when the conclusions of such simple ideas was the almost complete exclusion of the religious institution from the necessity of such simple living. This carpenter exacerbated the annoyance of such ideas to the elite by actually living these ideas out, breaking societal rules to get to the heart of matters and decrying the elites as shiny, empty coffins. After three years of this, Jesus of Nazareth was arrested near Jerusalem and taken through a series of religious and political trials. One of the Roman trials was presided over by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. Pontius eventually gave in to popular pressure and ordered Jesus’ crucifixion, but he asked an interesting question during his interview with Jesus, during which Jesus said he was in this world to proclaim truth, and everyone on the side of truth would listen to him. At this point, Pontius supposedly replies with the question: “what is truth?” and proceeds to say he finds no charges against Jesus.
When I have heard other Christians expound on this passage, they have always decried Pontius as an unbelieving cynic, an ancient relativist with no backbone to support anything, hence his giving in to popular pressure to kill Jesus when he himself saw no reason. Maybe, or maybe he was a shrewd politician who recognized it would cause more riots and problems if he did not execute Jesus, sacrificing one man to save many.
His question is more interesting than his politics, though, because it is a question that will always be relevant, even when it is never asked. What is truth? Is it a particular way of life? Like stoicism or hedonism? Is it a specific set of beliefs? Is it one of the Christian denominations? Or Muslim? Or Hinduism? Or are the Wiccans correct? What is truth? How do we determine truth? Is something true only if it can be proved according to the Scientific Method, or Ockham’s razor? Is truth measured by its ability to be philosophically coherent? What is the formula for truth? Is truth something that determines where we go after we die? Or does truth determine how we now live?
What do we know? What can we know? We can know our experiences, the things that we have seen in our lives, our history. We know this because we have lived it, but how much of that do we know? Do you know absolutely why someone mistreated you? Were they justified? Did they have their own reasons? Can you read their mind? I can’t, and I will assume you can’t, either. Which means we cannot know the truth of the matter. So perhaps you ought to be very careful about judging the person. Have you mistreated someone? Were you justified? Did you act rightly, and it only looked like you mistreated them? Maybe they deserved it. I know I have mistreated people, and I regret that, but it brings to light one of Jesus’ points: be at peace with others, love them and take care of them. If I had done that I would not have mistreated them.
If we always lived by compassion for others, we wouldn’t need countries as they are right now, because if everyone had compassion then there would be practically no violence nor want. We would all work together for the good of everyone. Organizations would probably still exist to manage talent and look at the big picture, but we wouldn’t need soldiers like me. Nor would we need police, because no one would let their selfish rage be taken out on someone else. We would all provide for those in need.
But we don’t have such worldwide compassion. Look at war and poverty and violence all around the world. What a terrible world we live in. Where is truth? How do we live by it?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s