Truth

Preservation Hall, Welllfleet, Massachusetts
Preservation Hall, Welllfleet, Massachusetts

Truth has neither fear nor doubt, 

Truth has patience to wait.

I have been thinking about truth a lot recently. Actually I guess I have been thinking about the lack of truth, the bending of truth, and the fear of truth lately. Or maybe I am thinking about alternate facts, I’m not entirely sure. Yes that last one comes from the headlines, but it speaks volumes about where we are now and how the truth is seemingly less important than ever. Which should frighten us all.

I remember taking an Economics course in college and the professor saying once that no two economists will ever exactly agree on anything. Having at one stage of my life watched those Sunday morning news programs and seen economists debating, that adage is accurate! But it seems that in some circles now we have allowed the truth to suffer and deteriorate.

We have moved to a place where some no longer believe what were once solid principles. Science and History have increasingly come under attack with revisionism. In that light,  maybe the Cubs didn’t actually win the World Series last year. Maybe Thriller isn’t the top selling album of all time. Maybe the dodo bird isn’t extinct. Of course those are what we might call indisputable truths, but then again, I never thought I would believe some people saying today that the earth doesn’t actually revolve around the sun, or that the Holocaust never happened either. Yet some people believe that.

Which leaves us with the question of how we define truth? Should it be based purely on empirical evidence? Should it come from scholars and historians who piece together the various accounts of a particular time and event in an elaborate and thorough retelling? Or should it come from people who feel so passionate about something they believe their truth to be the only logical one? The lines are blurred now more than ever, and rapidly sent out to the masses worldwide on a wave of digital circuitry.

 I was thinking about this recently as I was listening to a song on a Johnny Cash album I received as a Christmas gift. In the late 1970’s Johnny recorded a number of songs for a Gospel album called A Believer Sings The Truth for a small label-Cachet Records (now available as Bootleg, Volume IV). Johnny of course had long sung Gospel songs throughout his career, but perhaps freed from the constraints of Columbia Records, he felt very proud of this album, and the music reflects that. At a time when his regular albums were spotty and inconsistent with sales declining as a result, his voice and the music shine throughout these sessions. Unfortunately for Johnny, the album did not do well, and most people have never even heard of it. Fewer still are aware of a song he recorded for those sessions simply called ‘Truth’ which inexplicably remained unreleased until Bootleg Volume IV came out just a few years ago.

As recounted by producer Gregg Geller in the liner notes for Bootleg, the poem Truth had been presented to Johnny Cash by Muhammad Ali after the two had met years before. By most accounts, the story goes that even after recording the song, Johnny Cash had believed the poem to be one of Ali’s own. In actual fact, it was written by the early 20th century leader of the Universal Sufi movement, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Having played the album several times now, the song has quickly become one of my favorites Johnny has ever performed, right up there with I Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, and Hurt. The simple piano based arrangement, coupled with the beauty of Khan’s words compel me the same way those other songs do.

I’m not really a religious or spiritual person, but I don’t think you need to be to feel compelled by the words Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote of truth as mentioned above.  Taken away from the spiritual context, his words remind me that in any given situation there is a truth and an untruth. There has to be of course. But it seems to me now that some of us collectively live with an untruth in order to feel happier/safer/richer. I don’t begrudge anyone for working hard and having opinions. Discourse is healthy after all, but after the pundits have all spoken, and we have all turned blue in the face from talking, in the end there is still a truth and an untruth. So do we carry on, covering up and exaggerating the truth to suit our needs, or do we confront the truth head on and work on solutions that make the most sense?

We don’t seem to be there these days sadly. I do not have all the answers and I wrote this as much to ask myself these questions, and come to grips with why this has come to be as I have for others to do the same. One truth I do know is that words that were given to a devoted Christian man by a devoted Muslim man and written almost 100 years ago is a truth that needs to be understood by many people today.  Read the full poem by Hazrat Inayat Khan below and let me know in the comments what you think.

Truth

The face of truth is open,
The eyes of truth are bright,
The lips of truth are ever closed,
The head of truth is upright.

The breast of truth stands forward,
The gaze of truth is straight,
Truth has neither fear nor doubt,
Truth has patience to wait.

The words of truth are touching,
The voice of truth is deep,
The law of truth is simple:
All that you sow you reap.

The soul of truth is flaming,
The heart of truth is warm,
The mind of truth is clear,
And firm through rain or storm.

Facts are but its shadows,
Truth stands above all sin;
Great be the battle in life,
Truth in the end shall win.

The image of truth is Christ,
Wisdom’s message its rod;
Sign of truth is the cross,
Soul of truth is God.

Life of truth is eternal,
Immortal is its past,
Power of truth will endure,
Truth shall hold to the last.

Truth-Written By Hazrat Inayat Khan

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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7 thoughts on “Truth

  1. We’re living in the age of blurred lines. I can completely relate to everything you stated in this article concerning truth and untruth. I’m not a religious person but it does bring a scripture to mind from my religious upbringing and it goes a lil something like this “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” 2 Timothy 4:3 English Standard Version

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh I like that verse you mention. Definitely relates I just feel, without getting into the specifics of what I feel, versus what you feel, versus what someone else feels that in the end there is an answer, and not an answer. I remember once a political issue about a polluted river or lake. The politicians were squaring off against one another about responsibility and how to pay for it, but at least there was a sense of ‘accepting’ the truth or reality of the situation. Nowadays there feels like the actual truth is buried between false accusations, blatant lies, and wrapped in fear. Blurred lines is definitely true. Thank you for the quote and the comment as ever.

      Like

  2. That’s beautiful. I hope that truth finds its way out of the quagmire it’s currently stuck in, there’s just so much nonsense surrounding it that sometimes it’s hard to even see the truth, never mind bring it out into the light for everyone to see.

    Now more than ever we need good people with loud voices to speak the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much. I agree, it can be hard to even find the truth in the haze. I don’t always write about current events, but lets just say I’m beginning to feel I will have to. Really appreciate the comment. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think so much goes wrong in our societies if everybody can bend the truth to their own favor. If there is no truth then there is no consequence for our actions, but there still is.
    I like that you chose to write about truth the way you do. I will return to your post to hear Johnny Cash

    Liked by 1 person

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