The Truth About Truth
It takes work
“The opposite of truth has a hundred thousand shapes and a limitless field.” — Michel de Montaigne, 1580
“Truth, justice, and the American way.”
It’s a phrase that is irrecovably linked to Superman, and I recall hearing Christopher Reeves use these words to sum up his ethos to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane in Superman: The Movie (1978).
Lane kind of laughed it off and it was my distinct impression that the audience in the theater also laughed. After all, at the height of the disco era, traditional values like that seemed out of fashion — corny, even.
This kind of code seems out of date now, but frankly, we need a well-defined moral stance more than ever. Let’s break it down a bit.
Humans have long sought truth. The truth of the world around us, the truth of who we are and what we stand for. “Know thyself” was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
And yet it seems like truth is in short supply these days. Not because supply is running low, but because there seems to be little demand for it, despite an ironically-named social network.
In the broadest sense, justice is doing the right thing and doing it impartially. Justice is expressed in the natural consequences of an action.
The arc of justice is long, so it can be difficult to see it working in many cases. Which is why schadenfreude accompanies an instance of instant justice.
The American Way
But what of the American way? America of today is a country of diverse background and opinion, a country that seems defined by the very differences that unite us.
I think we can agree that America at its best represents opportunity for all, constantly striving to improve itself.
These corny, old-fashioned virtues are timeless and universally applicable to humanity. We seek the truth, want to do what’s right, and support opportunities for people to improve themselves.
It was very much on the mind of one commencement speaker this year, who channeled Superman and his tripartite virtues, expounding on each. Here’s a bit on truth:
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial