Why Pursuing the Truth is Hard But We Should Anyway

Abraham Lincoln said, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” But wow, some people sure do try. They lie on resumes. They lie about what really happened. And then, when situations are too hard to face, sometimes they'll lie to themselves. In fact, they lie to themselves so long that they can even create false memories.

False Memories Are Real

An article in Psychologist World about false memories says,

even once information has been committed to memory, it can be altered. Our recollection of memories can be manipulated and even entire sets of events can be confabulated (Coan, 1997).1

This is scary but I've seen it in action myself. Many years ago when I was in business, I had to fire a person for doing something wrong. By the time the person got home and talked to their spouse, everything changed.

Once, I had a wreck where a woman ran a red light. She admitted it. Two people saw it. I also said she ran the red light before she hit me. She signed off on the ticket for running the red light. However, three days later, she claimed I was the one who ran the red light and her story changed completely. Again, she got home and started talking to her family and the story changed.

Do We Really Want The Truth?

It is easy to say we should all tell the truth.

But what happens when you witness a crime and you know that telling the truth will mean that you have to spend time involved in a matter which will be hotly contested and you have no part?

Do you tell the truth?

Or, how about when your Mom has dementia and she keeps forgetting her own mother is dead? And when you tell her that her mother is dead, she relives it like it just happened that very moment?

Do you tell the truth?

Trustworthy People

There are trustworthy people out there. You can shop with her because she'll tell you when the dress makes you look fat.

He will speak out about a crime as a witness to the truth.

She will gently change the subject for her Mom with dementia instead of lying and saying her mother is at the store.

Trustworthy people can be trusted to the tell the truth. He'll disagree with you but respect you as a person. She'll speak the truth even when you don't like it very much.

Truth tellers scare people. That is because it has become so “acceptable” to lie that the truth shows up like a candle in the dark.

However, I don't think liars can be excellent – not for long anyway.

I think that people who are excellent not only work hard to tell others the truth but work hard to tell themselves the truth.

For example, one of the hardest things I do every year is to get feedback from my students. I know that anonymous feedback sometimes will carry immature responses to being held accountable. And yet, there's enough truth there that I need it. I need to get better.

It is also hard when someone tells you the truth about their disappointment in you. The hard part about this type of conversation is that just because they are telling you the truth about how they feel, they can be very wrong about your motivations or what has happened. Nevertheless, you know how they truly feel and that is important.

Have you ever seen someone eaten up with fury over an issue? However, that person has never told anyone about that problem who can actually do something about it.

Proverbs 17:15 says it is not good to acquit the guilty nor condemn the innocent.

The Race of Life and Truth

We start the race by pursuing the truth about ourselves. Yesterday, someone I know sent me an email. An offhand comment just really cut me to the core — that was my fault. I was guilty of that wrong thing. I had to spend time praying and even now am considering what I'm going to do not to be wrong in that area again. I didn't really want to admit that was a problem for me, however, in order to become a better person, I have to tell myself the truth about myself. This is a secret to growth and becoming a better person.

We continue the race by telling the truth to others. We do this in love and are considerate. Today, I had to tell some hard news to a student. However, I needed to share it gently and with love. When you care about someone, you deliver the truth in a caring, loving way respectful of that love.

We finish the race by pursuing truth about the world. For example, my belief about gravity is irrelevant. I can believe gravity isn't real as I climb up on the roof of my school. Right before I jump, I can yell that gravity isn't real. However, when I jump, my belief won't make me float or fall — the reality of the truth is what causes me to fall because gravity is REAL.

Truth is True Whether We Believe It Or Not

Too many people think that truth is what they believe it to be. When we should care more about finding the truth. The truth about life. The truth about death. The truth about how to live. The truth about how the world works. There are great truths for the finding and we should pursue them.

Consider the truth about yourself today. Are you telling the truth to others? Are you pursuing the truth about the world around you?

For truth-seeking truth-tellers stand out for their remarkable integrity in a world that tells itself the greatest lie of all: that the truth doesn't matter.

This post is day 56 of 80 days of excellence. I've created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Marjorie Latall March 6, 2018 - 11:16 pm

Vicki, Thanks for addressing an issue that truly matters in shaping our true identity. I believe telling the truth is certainly the best policy and one we must model daily, no matter the circumstances. Personally, I am thankful for the Christian upbringing my parents in stilled in me and hope to pass that on to others.

Vicki Davis March 8, 2018 - 11:58 am

Truth telling is so important and often not taught anymore.


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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere