Paraphrase of “Of Truth”
What is truth?” asked Pilate, jokingly, and he didn’t wait for an answer. Some people enjoy being fickle and find it difficult to commit to any belief, valuing their freedom to think and act as they please. Although the old schools of philosophical thought have disappeared, there are still thinkers with similar inclinations, though not as profound as those of the past. But the difficulty and effort in discovering the truth, and the burden it places on people’s minds, isn’t the only reason why lies find favor. There seems to be a natural yet corrupted fondness for lies themselves. Some have wondered why people love lies when they don’t bring pleasure like poetry or profit like in business. Maybe the allure of a lie lies in the mixture of truth and fiction, as it adds pleasure.
If people were rid of vain opinions, false hopes, wrong valuations, and unrealistic imaginations, their minds might become melancholic and unhappy. Poetry, though it fires the imagination with shadows of lies, doesn’t cause harm. What matters is not the lie that passes through the mind but the one that takes root and settles in, leading to harm, as discussed earlier. Despite people’s flawed judgments and emotions, truth, which only judges itself, teaches us that seeking truth, knowing it, and believing in it bring the greatest good to human nature.
Moving from spiritual and philosophical truth to truth in worldly matters, it is widely accepted, even by those who don’t practice it, that honesty and straightforwardness are honorable traits. Mixing falsehoods is like debasing valuable coins. Deceitful ways are like the movements of a lowly serpent, crawling on its belly instead of standing on its feet. No vice brings as much shame as being found false and untrustworthy. Montaigne cleverly observed that calling someone a liar is akin to accusing them of being brave before God but cowardly before people. Lying defies God but fears the judgment of people. The wickedness of falsehood and betrayal of trust cannot be expressed enough, as it brings God’s judgment upon generations, and it is foretold that faith will be scarce when Christ returns to earth.