The words less spoken: why truth matters

This is my third post in my series for M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled.
I’ve been really enjoying writing about his 4 essential steps to process pain from problem-solving!
First we learned about the importance of delaying gratification and accepting responsibility.
Today, we will explore dedication to truth and why it matters!

Our view of reality is like a map
that we continuously build on.
If based on falsehoods, we will be lost.

It’s dangerous to give up on revising our maps.
The world changes along with us. New information and new roles demand changes.
Otherwise, we might defend and believe in outdated views of reality, and try to destroy the new reality. This may explain prejudice against LGBT+ people for example.
Actively clinging to realities developed in childhood that are inappropriate now is called transference by psychiatrists

If a child learned that it cannot trust its parents,
it will build a map of ‘I cannot trust people‘.
They will clash with authority figures and
not trust others unless
they revise their world view.

This next paragraph was too good to summarise into my own words:
Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful.
We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain.
To have such discipline, we must be totally dedicated to truth.

That is to say that we must always hold truth, as best as can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort.
Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth.

As we know the world through our relationship to it,
we must search for truth in the external world
as much as in the observer.
This means a willingness to be personally challenged.

To avoid living in an echo chamber, we must allow other map-makers to critique us.
In order to be fully open for public inspection, we must be totally honest at all times.
Continuous self-monitoring to assure honesty (without shortcuts or white lies!) is not easy.
Believing a lie such as ‘my parents really loved me‘ can have disasterous consequences.
Living in denial skews our internal map and taints our values with other people.

Sometimes we lie to protect our children (they will know anyway!)
or we lie because we think people not strong enough to know the truth
(we are doing them a disservice).
Feelings and opinions will also have to be kept to ourselves at times (the office would quickly get awkward).


So with these exceptions, here are a few rules Peck came up with that make sticking to the truth easier:
– Never speak falsehood
– Withholding the truth is often a lie and requires a significant moral decision
– Withholding the truth should never be based on personal needs (for power, being liked, etc) but always on the needs of the person from whom the truth is being kept
– Assessing another person’s needs requires genuine love for the other
– The primary factor for assessing the other person’s needs is their capacity to utilise the truth for their own spiritual growth
– Generally we underestimate rather than overestimate the capacity of spiritual growth in others

This may sound tiresome, never-ending and complicated
but you will gain security, pride and complete freedom from fear.
The more honest one is, the easier it is to continue being honest,
just as the more lies one has told, the more necessary it is to lie again.

Check out part four in the techniques required for the pain-free discipline of life’s problem-solving by Peck: balance.

7 thoughts on “The words less spoken: why truth matters

    1. I think its often unconscious! I make an active effort not to say even white lies but I feel like sometimes I speak without thinking (may be my ADHD) and then I kick myself. Trying to counter act that by telling people I lied and apologising, hoping I will become more aware of my words as I speak them but they’re all usually exaggerations masking insecurities. Great to hear your progress!

      Liked by 1 person

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