There is nothing like filing a car accident report to your insurance company over the phone to show you where you place on the truth-o-meter. The claim-filing exercise is a good one because of its condensed and intensive quality, simulating rigorous fight-or-flight experiments. Self-knowledge that the rest of the world takes a lifetime to grope toward, never arriving, you now apprehend in a 15-minute conversation with the adjuster.
"So, Mrs. Seu, tell us about the accident."
What makes the general enterprise of telling the truth complicated is that there are, of course, righteous causes for maintaining a mind-mouth filter. "That's an ugly dress you're wearing" may be a truthful transcript of your momentary mental landscape, but neither Jesus nor the prophets condoned it; it doesn't meet the demands of kindness, gentleness. …
Dicier is the species of conversation called legal or contractual. In this sphere, it would be considered foolish to act as one's own adversary. A tacit posture is adopted, by all parties, in which the defendant steers from unnecessary self-incrimination. One does not notify the men in blue that yesterday one sailed through a red light.
But as nigh universal as it is, this culturally accepted law of social discourse-of highlighting the positives and not mentioning the negatives-comes with a personal cost that is not much reckoned with. That cost is freedom, not in some corny platitude way, but in the most practical way that makes the difference between peace and a case of nerves.
Mark Twain said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." This weight off the shoulders is only the beginning of what I am getting at. Sticking to one coherent story does have obvious advantages to a memory-challenged person such as myself. But there is more, much more.
I determined beforehand that I would tell the insurance representative and the hospital billing clerk, and whoever else needed to know, nothing but what actually happened last Sunday night when my daughter wrecked the car. And what I discovered as a result, during the phone interrogation, is that my commitment to truth had put my soul in a "zone" (I do not mean something psychological but something spiritual) that is very different from the old zone I have known.
In brief, what I discovered is that when one adopts the life-orientation of being ready to lie or shade or to be "selective" in the facts one tells, one renders oneself (unawares) incapable of finding truth, even for one's personal appreciation. One has entered a region of darkness. One believes he is putting something over on someone else, and does not know that he is in fact also putting something over on himself. It's like the old saying: "Said the fly to the flypaper, 'I'll getcha.' Said the flypaper to the fly, 'Gotcha!'"
God said "Let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no." This refers to a way of life-and a way of being truly alive. It commends Truth as the operational goal, rather than self-protection. It looks to God for security, and not to one's wits. And when we live in Truth, and by it, we walk in a constant stream of light. In that light there is creativity and freedom of exploration and a constant expansion. And nothing hiding in the shadows can jump out and harm us.