“I hope I have the opportunity to speak my truth.”
With that, the former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada turned yet another page in the ongoing saga of the SNC-Lavalin affair which has dominated the news cycle in our country over the past several weeks. We’ll not go into the sordid details here which are widely available through a quick Google search or a review of a recently published summary in one of Canada’s news sources, The National Post. However, something about this quote and others like it causes a strong revulsion at a very deep level. What does the phrase “my truth” say about our culture and where we find ourselves today?
You don’t have to be on your favourite social media platform very long to realize everybody has an opinion these days and there are many platforms from which to express it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, private websites like this one or media platforms of all kinds. There are more options than have ever existed in human history for a message to be proclaimed, directly to the hearer or viewer, in public or in private. However, the question to ask is “To what end?”. Is the intent to seek out and find the objective truth of the matter or simply to express one’s viewpoint or opinion or “My truth”. How we answer this key question has significant consequences.
Whether we realize it or not, our entire society rests on the establishing of truth. Objective truth. Were you speeding or not? Did you pay your bills or not? Did your employer, customer, business partner pay you with real and legitimate currency or not? Is your heart beating or not? Telling a police officer that “my truth is that I was going under the speed limit” will not get you very far if his radar gun says otherwise. Regardless of the situation, our entire court and governmental system rests on establishing the objective truth of the matter. People are harmed, suffer or die if the wrong decision is made.
The concept of “my truth” runs entirely counter to this foundational concept and pretends to establish a world that different perceptions of a situation can co-exist for any length of time without consequences. This is rampant at this time in history and has significant implications for us and future generations. How often have you heard phrases like:
“That may be true for you but not for me.”
“I am happy you are living your truth. I am also living mine but it is different than yours.”
“That is just your perspective. We can’t really know for sure that it is true.”
While there is some grain of reality to all of these statements, at their core they are patently absurd. Unless the objective truth is found in the key issues of life that surrounds us, the existence of multiple “my truth” positions will eventually lead to conflict. Perhaps that is why we are seeing such aggressive and violent speech and behaviour in so many walks of life today? While we spout the platitudes surrounding the “my truth” doctrine, the reality is that we know deep down that there is objective truth to be discovered and often aggressively fight for it. After all, what happens when “my truth” and “your truth” are in opposition and compete for the same resources or attention? In reality, somebody has to suffer or die (literally or metaphorically).
Into this confusion and relativity steps Jesus, the Truth personified. Statements such as “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) are objective truth statements. Jesus made them constantly which is why it was said he spoke with such authority and frankly why he was crucified. After all, nobody gets killed for “my truth” statements.
While space does not allow for a full exploration and deep dive into Jesus’ exchange with Jewish leaders in John 8:31-59, it is worth reading and reflecting upon in light of the issue of truth. Take the time to read and ponder. Some interesting observations about this passage:
- Jesus mentions the word truth 10 times
- The Jews make at least 6 objective truth statements
- We are Abraham’s descendants (v33)
- We have never been slaves to anyone (v33)
- Abraham is our father (v39)
- We are not illegitimate children (v41)
- You are a Samaritan and demon-possessed (v48)
- Abraham died and so did the prophets (v52)
- Jesus makes at least 12 objective truth statements:
- You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (v32)
- Everyone who sins is a slave to sin (v34)
- A slave has no permanent place in the family but a son belongs to it forever (v35)
- I know you are Abraham’s descendants (v37)
- You are ready to kill me (v37)
- I have told you the truth I heard from God, Abraham did not do such things (v40)
- You belong to your father, the devil (v44)
- He is a liar and the father of lies (v44)
- I am not possessed by a demon (v49)
- If anyone keeps my word he will never see death (v51)
- Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day (v56)
If we reflect on the exchange in this passage, the entire dialogue revolves around truth and the establishing of objective truth about Jesus, who He is and why He came. It increases in intensity and implications, concluding in Jesus clear statement of divinity “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (v58) which almost got him killed at that moment and ultimately was the reason he was crucified. Objective truth has a price or cost. My truth does not.
At Back to Eden Group, we have written about the concept of truth from other perspectives (see The Plane Truth). In our opinion (yes, this a case of “my truth”) your search for this elusive concept may be the most important thing you do on this earth. Don’t accept opinion as truth without a thorough investigation. Or worse, don’t fall into the compromise position we see too often today by conceding to the “my truth” and “your truth” philosophy. Truth exists regardless of your opinion. Much more important issues are at stake than what speed you were traveling. The earth orbits around the sun, gravity is a sure thing, God exists, Jesus rose from the dead. Your opinion on these things is irrelevant. They are objective truth or they or not. Deal with these statements and others like them like your life depends on it. In fact it does and that is the truth.