Sunday, April 25, 2010

Which is more difficult – truth or false?

Before anyone reads this article, I would like to clarify that I am writing this article not to undermine the importance of truth in any manner whatsoever, but to argue the commonly held belief that ‘the path of truth is not easy’. I would here like to present my alternate views on being truthful.
There were times when people used to have various notions; notions which were considered facts and which perhaps also spelt the common order of the day. Certainly, breaking away those poorly conceived notions needed time and efforts so that people could change their established viewpoints and adjust their lives to something new. It seems many of the problems were of implementing a change, eventually making the path of truth a tough and sacrificing one.
But now, having seen how being truthful helps, I am left to wonder why people believe that it is a harder thing to do. It is the easiest response in any situation. You don’t have to think and do much to speak whatever is true – you don’t have to manipulate your mind, words and body expressions to add conviction to whatever you say.
On the other hand, the alternate, and the devious path of false requires many efforts. It is like a heavy risk and reward game. The more risk one can take, the better he could earn, but while putting a lot more on stake. Of course, if there were no higher (expected) rewards, then why would people go against the tide to practice false? It requires tremendous efforts to justify false claims, especially if the claims are to be upheld for longer. Perhaps, the professions wherein people are sometimes required to twist the facts bestow higher rewards on their incumbents.
To keep things in perspective, the point I have made from the above discussion is that path of truth is rather an easier one. But what I really find interesting is that people who speak truth aren’t necessarily the ones who want to speak truth, but are likely to be the ones who couldn’t speak otherwise. They simply don’t have the guts to put their hands into the dirt and complexities of false and counter the repercussions. Actually majority of the people are still the holy cows, better at understanding things in a simpler way; they prefer truth, simply because they aren’t good at false. Therefore, despite the high rewards that falseness can bring in short run or long run, it is just not in high demand.
I understand many of us would argue that there are plenty of situations wherein being true is difficult and painful, and is thus an act of courage. But which are those situations? I believe such situations mostly arise either when people have screwed up something and they are uneasy to admit their faults or when they are already living in screwed up circumstances, wherein mere upholding the fact would only aggravate the pain and after-effects of one’s circumstances and may even cause a backlash. Out of these two situations, the first one shouldn’t be considered an act of courage; it is just squaring off. However, the second one could be a courageous act, if only it is in the larger benefit of all. So, if a husband acknowledges to his wife that she is not beautiful, then he might be a stupid – not a hero – for hurting his marriage, even though he wanted to have a happy marriage; therefore, to deny the truth in the better interest of both the partners, he might be doing a bit more, and is therefore acting courageously.
Before I conclude, I must make it clear that I don’t propagate that truth is subject to a situation, anticipated benefits and / or tolerance of its audience. I just want to say that truth is rather an easier way, and false could be equally or perhaps more demanding. Also, those who speak truth are not necessarily courageous; they may be simply acting of out of their own limitations, within their capabilities.


achin said...

Let me get this straight. This one time I told my employer that I hardly spent 30 mins on a presentation and she said "I admire your honesty; we will work on this together." The reason I chose not to lie or lead her to a false context means that I don't have guts? What happened to ethics and being true to yourself?

TB Writes said...

I appreciate your point Achin.. Ethics are a good reason for sticking to truth... but then, try misleading your boss once with a lie, and see how difficult you would find it to sustain if it was of a repetitive nature... and that's the point i am also making. you may have chosen truth out of ethical reasons, but it is also an equally convenient choice to not speak a lie.

purva said...

Hmm..Interesting! However, I make one point - being true to ourselves is not always easy. How many of us always portray our true selves 100% of the time- aren't we afraid at times to express our opinions, speak our mind when we really need to, etc. out of fear of judgement.I think its far too easy to put up a front which is not us. Aren't we always in the race to show others that we are this, we are that?? Given that falsehood is rather easy and I say damaging too for we lose our true self! Living a life which is true to ourselves damages courage!

Kapoor.Raksh said...

By the end of your article you almost proved your discussion invalid by saying that in order to survive in the marriage, a man has to lie “deny truth” that his wife is beautiful instead of taking course path and admitting the truth (very subjective in this case)that she isn’t beautiful. Hence, he chose a simpler path (call him hero or stupid) of lie to make his life simpler and convenient.

It is much easier to conceal the reality, failures, past and the errors you've done in life, than to show and flaunt them to the world. A lie is an instant way to avoid an immediate trouble. Though coming clean may avoid lot of future troubles, it’s not necessarily the easiest and silky path to walk on.

Also, just think and answer: what does the child do when he is scared after breaking a vase. He lies saying he didn’t do it. It’s like a reflex or self defense. The moment you feel encroached or in danger the first reaction of mind is to run away, it takes much more courage to stand and face what’s coming your way as result of truth. But yet again it depends on you and how extreme you are willing to go with the entire truth thing as it “might” hurt you and jeopardize quite a few things in making.

Last note: Had lie been so tough we wouldn't have series like "moment of truth" which actually demands some guts to say truth in front of the world. Interesting thought process though 

TB Writes said...

Rakshita: I appreciate your viewpoint, perhaps very well rounded arguments. Please don't mind as i am just going to argue a bit and present my own opinions.

I would like to say that the example I gave to speak truth in a marriage was an exception, where truth requires more courage than does false; so I understand that at times, truth is really demanding, but not always.

Secondly, (I am taking your example here) if a child breaks a vase, he refutes it out of defensive mechanism, which is quite true of human nature and is more instinctive than necessarily rational. However, truth is not easy. Ask him few more questions, and he breaks aways towards truth. However, to sustain the false situation, the kid will have to put lot of efforts to continue to substantiate his position. But that's not easy.

Lastly, the moment of truth goes back to the last para of my article. Either you screw up something or you are living in screwed up circumstances, acceptance of truth is always difficult... People loose in moment of truth, because they couldn't sustain their false positions. They didn't go to games to reveal truth and show their courage because they could have done it in a much sensible manner at home / office / etc. They rather went to games with other intentions (money, fame, fun, etc. etc.), though knowing the possibility of jeopardizing their relationships.

What say you, is false really not difficult?

Kapoor.Raksh said...

Tarun, well put across. I agree its hard to continue lying if anyone is after your life seeking truth( for which no one has either time or patience). But on the other hand its equally tough to get truth out of someone :) Overall, lying is not tough, it's the easiest way out.And I rest my case here. Peace!!!