Truth, Cause of the Nation's Woes?

Manila Bulletin, July 16, 2006 | Go to article overview

Truth, Cause of the Nation's Woes?


Byline: MANUEL (LOLONG) M. LAZARO President, PHILCONSA

"TRUTH," Jean Jacques Rousseau said, "is the most precious of all blessings. Without it man is blind; it is the eye of reason." In the same vein, the Greek philosopher Plato remarked: "There is nothing so delightful as the hearing or speaking of truth." Truth is enough to strike fear in the hearts of the decent, the righteous or the God-fearing.

Truth and time

"Every truth," the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, "passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first, it is ridiculed; in the second, it is opposed; in the third, it is regarded as self-evident." Truth is often associated or connected with time. Thus, a proverb states, "truth is the daughter of time." Differently stated, it is only a matter of time for truth to emerge. But before it does so, it goes through a labyrinthine path battling with minotaurs of errors and untruths. "Time tries truth."

For Disraeli, "time is precious, but truth is more precious than time." Albert Schweitzer, however, put it differently: "Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now - always." The Greeks give a word of caution: "A truth spoken before its time is dangerous.''

Truth and governance

It is also a proverbial truism that "truth fears nothing but concealment." Yet, as the German dramatist Friedrich Von Schiller reminded us: "Truth lives on in the midst of deception." Ironically, in the realm of politics or government, truth may at times be portrayed as the culprit or even the scapegoat for the nation's woes. And this is true in the different branches of the government.

The executive government is beset with varied and humongous problems with dimensional aftermaths involving the truth of policies pursued and transactions or decisions implemented. As the truth of its legitimacy still hangs, clouds of doubt, distrust, suspicion and lack of credibility pervade the entire bureaucracy. Often honesty is blurred and integrity is tainted.

The legislative department is equally plagued by a failure or inability to agree on the truth. Both houses of Congress cannot seem to synchronize melodious tones on matters affecting the welfare of the nation and the people. Each has its own priorities. Each has its own version of the truth of matters. The use of congressional investigations is a classic example. Thus, the Senate, bothered by the truth and integrity of the activities of some offices or officials, or the disbursements of government funds, initiated congressional investigations in aid of legislation, to flush out the truth. Each House has its own solutions to offer. This divergence has halted, hampered or stagnated congressional political processes. Very often, congressional actions are paradoxical.

In the judiciary, the continuing quest for truth has met with obstacles and all forms of resistance. Some judicial decisions are enigmatic, while others undermine rather than fortify the people's truth and faith in the wisdom, impartiality, honesty, and integrity of the courts.

The sad spectacle has caused gridlock in the efficient or effective governance to the chagrin of our people who have become wary of government's motives. Instead of coordinating their efforts and cooperating with each other, political leads have become distrustful of each other.

Thus, it has been asked: Is truth the culprit that has brought this nation to its maladies? What is the vital role of truth in the life of a nation and its people?

Government by lies is selfdefeating

In "The Imperial Presidency," Pulitzer-prize winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. incisively wrote that government's "power to withhold and the power to leak [leads] on inexorably to the power to lie. …

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