Truth in these times may seem to be in short supply. Given the sometimes-overwhelming amount of individual and societal stress that we encounter, it’s difficult to process so much information with consistent integrity. Our brains’ reactions to stress—fighting, fleeing, freezing—might include reliance on falsehood as a way of diminishing anxiety. Our widespread choice to be prevaricators doesn’t bode well for our nation, or for us as individuals.
We can also choose to be truth-tellers. Perhaps especially in these later years, we might have a place in restoring truthfulness to the wider society. Perhaps older adults who choose to be honest can help this and future generations recognize and repudiate the barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, fabrications, deceptions and bald-faced lies that burden our culture right now.
If deeply consistent trustworthiness is a value we hold dear, we can help drain dishonesty-swamps wherever we find them: We can challenge liars in their tracks. We can insist that our own discourse be grounded in genuine reality. In our dealings with caregivers, family members and peers, we can exemplify a spirit of truthfulness in all things. Our intellectual and emotional honesty can be examples for those trying to find their own. Our stories of successes and failures can be grounded in facts. We can be ready to confess what’s not so good about us, and slow to claim credit for what’s admirable. We can remain humble—a worthy accompaniment to honesty.
This gift of truth-telling might be one of the gifts we can offer others. It could take shape in our writing, our story-telling, our kind counsel to those younger than us, our insistent questions in places where lying has grown unchecked.
And we can constantly seek the encouragement of Scripture—Jesus, especially—in remaining steadfast about truth-telling in all circumstances.
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