“The one certain thing in life is that no one can make the truth untrue simply because it hurts.”
– Admiral Bernard Yanakov, Honor of the Queen, by David Weber
Some quotes are just too good to pass up, ya know? They don’t come much better than this.
This actually comes from the same chapter, and same conversation, as the quote I shared last week. David Weber’s work is apparently full of quotable passages. 🙂
In this scene, two men from very different cultures are becoming friends. Said cultures are clashing and the two men have not been particularly warm with each other. However, they are letting their guards down and looking at each other, and themselves, in a more frank and honest manner. One, the host of the evening, is explaining to the other, his guest, much of the history that has made his people, his nation, and himself the way they are. Based upon that history, the less-than-friendly immediate reactions of his people are understandable, even forgivable, if also no less frustrating.
It’s very complex and intricate, but it boils down to how his guest’s culture innately brings proof that the host’s culture is wrong, and has always been wrong, for centuries, about something very important, and, if they do not change (which is never easy for an individual, much less an entire society), they will continue to be wrong.
But, though it has taken Yanakov (the host) some time, he is able to face the pain of that with maturity, grace, and humility.
He does not rail against it. He does not cry and kick his legs in the air. He does not collapse in a trembling, screaming heap, or bellow in mindless, red-faced outraged.
He has a quiet, civilized conversation, wherein he examines himself and his people. He removes the beam from his own eye, and does not bother with the mote in his neighbor’s eye. He wrestles with the truth, yes, but he also accepts it. The fact that it is inconvenient to his previous world-view is irrelevant. The fact that change is painful does not negate that this change is also necessary.
Where many people try to change the truth into something more convenient for them, he adapts himself instead. He conforms to the truth, even if that truth is painful.
If only everyone did that.
I know, that’s easy to say. Especially since I have not always been successful at doing so myself. But I try. I try real hard, and I have changed my stance on many issues, even if I have done so very slowly. I imagine that will continue for the rest of my life.
It is a fact, we do not know everything. No one is special in that regard. What matters is what we do when we learn that we may be mistaken about something important.
It’s physically impossible for us to always be right, so how do we deal with being wrong?
Truth hurts, but we can’t change it. That way just lies more pain.