Oh say, what is truth?

Such an unlikely source as the challenger to Christianity, Friedrich Nietzsche, voiced a true principle when he said “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” In our dealings with others, trust is a priority. We live in an age where some consider that if you tell a lie often enough, others will believe it to be true. What nonsense! A lie, is a lie, is a lie, no matter how often repeated, and it will eventually be exposed as such. Generally, the greatest victim of a man’s lying is the liar himself, for in time he begins to believe the lie. Self deception is fraud of the worst kind, for any man who lives a lie and comes to believe it, can never bring himself to recant, for what’s the point? His ladder will, without fail, ever be lodged on the wrong wall, and the end of his days will find him climbing in the wrong direction.  I have said that “generally” the greatest victim of self deception is the liar himself. We may shudder at exceptions, such as in the case of a national leader whose lies take in the fate of three hundred millions of people. Thus, we may with good reason cringe, when we hear another of this nation’s leaders resort to answering questions in the following manner: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner of saying no.” A simpler way of putting it would have been for him to confess, “I lied.”  We read of Pilate questioning the Christ,  ”Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” To this Pilate responded with another question, ”What is truth?” (John 18: 33-37) Jesus had earlier counseled, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) In another place, we are told that, “truth” is the “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” (D & C 93:24) Now, more than ever, we should be fervent seekers of the truth. We should do so with a humility which will find us given to repentance where needed, for indeed, the truth will make us free, which freedom clears our minds for a greater work. We are living in an age where deception comes from the highest sources. With Pilate we ought inquire of Christ, “what is truth?”  We turn then to the poet:

“Oh say, what is truth? ’Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

Yes, say, what is truth? ’Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
’Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.” (John Jaques, 1827–1900)