Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just the Facts

I've always been a big X-Files fan.  A few years ago, I did a post called "The Truth Is Out There" (you can read it here).  But I've been thinking a lot about truth again.  I guess it's not the worst thing in the world to continue to come back to in spite of all the lies that surround us daily.

I've been hearing a lot of things that are untrue recently.  It's actually been that way for a little while and I wonder how to combat these things with truth.  The thing is, finding the truth is not always dependent on me, but rather on the one who is seeking it, if they are seeking it at all.  Sometimes, to be honest, it's just easier to fill in the blanks ourselves without even trying to find the truth.

The truth takes time to uncover.  It's a commitment when you search for truth.  Sometimes you might discover things that you didn't want to discover.  You might be faced with information that's uncomfortable and hard.  Seeking truth is not something to be embarked upon without seriousness and humility.

What often happens is that not only do people not seek truth, but they spread the information that they have as truth, regardless of the fact that it's not true.  Sure, there are times that people might pass on information that they thought was true that turns out to be false, but I wonder what the percentage of circumstances in which this happens.  I don't imagine that it's very high.

Passing on information that is untrue is gossip at best, lying at worst.  That's why it's important to get the facts.  But, like I said, it takes time.

The Book of Proverbs gives us wisdom for our journey.  It's peppered with verses about truth and lies.

Proverbs 12:17 "An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies."
Proverbs 12:19 "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment."
Proverbs 14:25 "A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful."

I know that there have been times that I have operated under assumptions or false information.  I didn't take the time to seek out truth and I reaped the consequences of that.  I got lazy, I chose the easy path rather than the difficult one of seeking truth.  All of us are prone to do the very same thing if we're not careful.

Here are a few practices that I have found helpful in seeking out truth:

1) Firsthand information is the best.  Too often, we readily accept information from second, third, or fourth hand voices rather than hearing information firsthand.  Remember the old game "Telephone?"  The further away from the original voice we get, the more potential for distortion of the original message.  If you get information that comes from anyone other than the original source, do your best to get back to the original source and find out what the truth is.

2) Don't assume everything you hear is true.  We all have our biases and we all have people whom we trust without batting an eye.  We need to be careful to not always assume that everything we hear is true.  Many jokes have flown around about how if you found it on the internet, it must be true, and we all know the danger of that.  Make sure you verify what you hear.

3) Finding truth comes in speaking truth.  One of the easiest ways for us to be truth seekers is by being truth speakers.  In other words, we need to speak the truth.  How reliable are our words?  Do people trust us and the things that we say?  Do they rely on our words to be truthful?  One of the greatest ways to combat against untruth is by telling the truth ourselves.

None of this stuff is easy, if it were, the world would be a much different place.  But change starts small and it starts with us.  Can we be ones who seek out truth, who seek out "just the facts" or will we be guilty of spreading information that's wrong?

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