Recently I asked this question in my journal, “Does truth depend on my perspective, or does my perspective depend on truth?” Similarly, in his book, Saving Truth, Abdu Murray says, “We don’t look to facts to find out the truth. We look at editorialized facts to support our preferences.” Most of us will more passionately defend our preferences and justify our perspectives than seek out the truth. Whether it’s our views on spirituality, economics, parenting, politics, or the pandemic, most of us would instead remain in an echo chamber than risk honest self-assessment.
My favorite H.S. teacher often quoted Plato
“A life unexamined is not a life worth living.” I cherish friends who have the courage to critique me. It is fascinating how we all come to hold very different viewpoints on significant subject matters. Evolution vs. Creationism. Capitalism vs. Socialism. Christianity vs. Islam. Liberalism vs. Conservatism. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. How to Discipline a Child. And dare I say it—whether to be vaccinated or not. It is easy to look back on my life and identify times when I lacked wisdom or clung to a naive perspective. Fifteen years ago, I was determined to be a real estate guru; I learned a costly lesson.
As Ralph Allen told me once when it comes to a real estate purchase, “It takes only a few minutes to buy, but it can take years or decades to sell.” My deepest convictions are now more firmly rooted in the truth. I thank my mother, who has shared with me that she often asked why instead of what as a parent. It is just as important to understand why we believe as what we believe.
Our upbringing, environment, teachers, authors, media, scientists, philosophers, and feelings can lead us astray or help guide us to the truth. People have biases, blind spots, and agendas. We must be diligent not to simply believe what we want to believe. Rooting your beliefs, ideas, and convictions in the truth is not an easy task. However, like C.S. Lewis, my favorite author, wrote, “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end. But if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”
As you reflect on your convictions, ask yourself honestly how and why you have come to hold them.
We tend to assume the best about ourselves and the worst about others, which is a faulty perspective, to begin with. Most high-profile commentators in the media, Hollywood actors, and politicians are motivated by the wrong things. Many religious leaders, scientists, and professors are also misguided. Truth is stubborn and unbending. It does not conform to our desires, and as much as the phrase “my truth” has become more common, it usually just means “my opinion.”
And everyone in the world agrees about what can be said about those.