Several years ago, there was an interesting interview in Fortune magazine with Warren Buffet. He spoke of his philosophy on purchasing stocks. He then spoke of a flaw we human beings have in our makeup. He said that we all seem to have within us a psychological force that causes us to cling to our ideas and beliefs, even in the face of contradictory information.
He then said to the interviewer,
“Now, there was a smart man, who did just about the hardest thing in the world to do. Charles Darwin used to say that whenever he ran into something that contradicts a conclusion he cherished, he was obliged to write on paper the finding within 30 minutes. Otherwise his mind would work to reject the discordant information, much as the body rejects transplants.”
Ultimately, Buffet was saying that in order to live wisely, you have to love and be committed to what is true, the problem however, is that we would rather cling to our old beliefs, even if they are false.
As human beings, we have an unusual relationship with the truth. There is a side of us that wants to pursue the truth wherever it leads, but we seem to balk when it begins to lead us in a direction that we do not want to go.
What we don’t often realize is the truth is our friend. It leads to our well-being. In his bestselling book The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck speaks of the importance of being dedicated to the truth. He then makes this observation:
“That which is false is unreal. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world – the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions – the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.”
Peck is quite clear, we all need the right map in order to navigate our way through life.
Our ambivalent relationship with the truth is most apparent in the realm of spiritual reality. So often, the spiritual truth that we need so desperately is found in a teaching that we do not like and makes us feel uncomfortable. And so many of us turn away from it.
C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
“Failing to seek with all our hearts, we remain on the outside of the door. It is as if we have chosen to avoid persistently knocking for fear that Someone might actually answer. Yet choosing to avoid discomfort we have chosen what we want God to be instead of finding out who He is. Like a scientist shutting down an investigation in fear of the results, we are choosing to believe that our image of God is actually better than the real thing.”
In the book of John, we see where Jesus speaks often of the importance of truth. At one point he tells his disciples that many people will hate Him because he tells them the truth. In John 8:40, having been confronted by the Pharisees, Jesus says to them “…you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth.”
Finally, there is a very powerful and very revealing verse in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. He is speaking of people who are perishing spiritually, and he says they perish “because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”
Each of us should follow the wise dictum of Socrates, “to follow the truth wherever it leads.” One thing is certain, if we do not have a great love of the truth, we most certainly will never find it.