With the anniversary of the #EndSars movement just recently gone by and the various magnificent and inspiring writers, artists, musicians and activists speaking their truth at the Pa Gya Literary Festival in Accra, it led us to think about what it means to tell the truth. People talk about how we all have to speak our truths. Some may veer off with the postmodernist philosophers and say that truth is relative and everyone has a different perspective on truth, etc. That is one way of looking at things. As the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka said, “There’s your truth, there’s my truth and there’s the truth”.
Truth as a concept in itself is hard to define. Let’s take the road of our day-to-day encounters with truth. There are receptors that monitor truth telling in the human being and those receptors are the sensations that one feels in the heart when one doesn’t speak the truth and the voice in head, the conscience that tells us we are doing something wrong or living an inauthentic existence. You may ask, well those receptors may be rusty for a lot of people, what if they are not getting the signal? Valid point. This could be the reason for many of the inexplicable behaviours that we are seeing in society today. A blatant denial of reality and truth which has disastrous consequences for the world. This lack of individual introspection and internal processing causes severe problems for all those caught in the crossfire. It has been said, “if you don’t heal from what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”
This denial of truth has huge repercussions on our society, but starts at the individual level, so let’s start there. Your conscience tells you when you don’t speak or live the truth. Many people have a crisis of conscience today for that very reason but may not realise its source. The truth helps us to develop a relationship with our conscience. The famous philosopher Nietzsche is known to have said that you can tell a lot about a man’s character by how much truth he can tolerate. It could be said that as a society we are intolerant to truth. What end of the spectrum then is our collective character? What is the verdict?
Is it so easy? Truth takes courage, knowledge. Nothing is easy. It’s also difficult to live an inauthentic life. Its disturbing, unsettling. One is uncomfortable in one’s own skin. It’s as if the clothes don’t fit properly. Truth can be painful. It can trigger sores that are not ready to be triggered but will heal quicker if opened and processed. Its painful. The struggle is collective. Why? Solzhenitsyn said, “The line dividing good and bad cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
So why is this journey for truth worth it? Through truth one finds meaning, peace, integrity, and progress. What we see today is a tendency for people to feel defensive or apologetic about the truth. There is at times a collective and subtle psychological resistance to those telling the truth. As Bob Marley said, “people are being hated when they are real and being loved when they are fake”. One must consciously liberate oneself from this dynamic and dare to be free. Dare to seek peace. Dare to seek a better life for communities. Dare to not be triggered. Dare to communicate with dignity and integrity. Dare to not to be a victim. “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world.” (Solzhenitsyn)
Speak your truth.